Among bowlers, there’s an inherent respect when certain achievements are met. Whether you like a guy or not, if he bowls a good game (even if it’s just a good game “for him”), he’s earned some accolades. The most universal and prominent showering of praise comes when a bowler throws a perfect 300.
Whether it’s a person’s first perfect game or his 90th, it’s a difficult feat and he deserves praise. Even pros, who seem to throw 300s with ease, congratulate each other, as doing it isn’t nearly as easy as they make it look.
Typically, when a league bowler is on the verge of perfection, everyone clears the way (or stands back as to not get up and bowl next to him), letting him have his space. Nobody wants to ruin the opportunity. After knocking down that 12th and final strike, people applaud. High fives are thrown around. Hands may be shaken. If someone is especially exuberant, a hug might find its way in there. For the most part, everyone is congratulatory.
Not in this league, and not on this night. Paul, we’ll call him, bowled a perfect game. Every single person in the league congratulated him except one—his teammate, whom we’ll call Barry.
In all the hoopla surrounding Paul’s well-deserved moment, Barry shouted, “Okay, I got ‘em,” meaning he overcame the odds and successfully marked all the scores on the sheet. His proclamation was the signal the first bowler on the opposing team to press the button and start the next game.
This was the second game of the night, and already we’d seen two great moments. First, Paul’s 300, and then, even more impressive, Barry’s writing down of the scores.
In the third game, Paul didn’t let up (although he did leave the 3-6-7-10 split on his opening shot following a perfect game), and on his final ball in the tenth, needed four pins to shoot 800. While a 300 game is the most widely known great accomplishment in bowling, an 800 series is, by all accounts within the bowling community, a much more impressive and difficult feat.
Paul, as he’d been doing most of the night, struck on his final ball, leaving him with an 806 for the night. Again, accolades were thrown at him from anyone in the vicinity who saw the scores.
Barry, however, had done something even more impressive: among his three games, two of them were 163s. Two games of the same score. Incredible.
Because of Paul’s ability to trump his 300 game with an 800 series, and Barry’s unbelievable efforts in throwing two identical scores (and also writing down not only those scores, but the scores of everyone on his pair of lanes), somehow, on this league night, a 300 game was the fourth-best accomplishment on the lanes.
Paul’s love of attention is just one of the many reasons league bowling is so entertaining. It doesn’t matter what else is happening anywhere in the bowling center—whatever Paul is doing needs to be the focal point. Since most people in the league realize this and ignore Paul’s efforts, his efforts get more desperate, loud and ridiculous.
A 300 game is a great accomplishment. An 800 series is even better. But without people like Paul, we might have to settle for those types of achievements being worth nothing. Thankfully, we know both pale in comparison to an ability to write scores on a sheet of paper and the incredible consistency involved in throwing two games of the same score.
In summary, if you’re ranking at home, here’s the hierarchy of achievements, ranked from most impressive to least impressive:
- Throwing two games of the same score.
- Writing down scores on a sheet of paper.
- Bowling an 800 series.
- Bowling a 300 game.