Jan 14, 2015

Bowling is Getting it All Wrong

I'm not in any way a bowling expert or aficionado but like most people in the western world, I enjoy some bowling now and again.  Not so much any more because my wrists are all screwed up from playing drums, using a computer and skateboarding over the years, but on occasion I like to meet friends at the stinky old bowling alley and pretend that I'm halfway okay at it.  But every time I go I'm always thinking about the scoring system. How once you reach a certain skill level it's all wrong.

If you fight your way down the field and score a touchdown you get 6 whole points.  But if you fail at reaching that goal and kick a field goal you only get 3.  It's incentive to cross the goal line rather than kick it.  If you make a basket closer to the hoop you get 2 points, but if you are farther away and make it they give you an extra point.  Most games are set up this way and too an extent so is bowling but after a while the strike and spare point system stops making sense.  Let me explain.

Say you're a professional or expert bowler. This means that just about every throw you make is going to be a strike.  That's what you're supposed to do, throw strikes for 10 points and so on ending in a perfect game.

perfect game is the highest score possible in a game of bowling, achieved by rolling a strike during every frame.[1] In bowling games that use 10 pins, such as ten-pin bowlingcandlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling, the highest possible score is 300, achieved by bowling 12 strikes in a row in a single game: one strike in each of the first nine frames, and three more in the tenth frame. Because a strike counts as ten pins plus any pinfall in the next two balls, 30 points are possible in a given frame.

The other way to score is with a spare. A spare, no matter how difficult is still only counted by the amount of pins knocked down which is a maximum of 10.

Scores can be greater than the actual number of pins knocked over if strikes or spares are bowled. A "strike" is scored when a player knocks down all pins on the first roll in the frame. Rather than a score of 10 for the frame, the player's score will be 10 plus the total pins knocked down on the next two rolls in the next frame(s). A "spare" is scored when all pins are knocked down using both rolls in the frame. The player's score for that frame will be 10 plus the number of pins knocked down on the first roll in the next frame. A player who rolls a spare or strike in the last frame is given one or two more rolls to score additional points, respectively.

One of the most infamous of splits is the 7–10 split 
And that's basically it. Roll your ball and count the pins essentially.  There are pro's who can curve the ball and make crazy 7-10 splits and do all kind of wizardry with a bowling ball.  The way the game is set up, if you make one of these incredible shots, you'll get high-fives from the team, but there's really no numerical reward for it.  If you are truly skilled you will never leave any pins up. There are plenty of times in professional bowling where pins are left and spares are made but it's seen as a mistake and you ultimately are scored lower for it.  
More about the 7-10 split here. 

I propose a new version of the game. You would use the same 10 pins but you would be scored higher for more difficult split and spare combinations. The challenge would be for the player to intentionally knock down only the middle pins setting up a high scoring opportunity to get the split or single pin left over.  I think you would get points for the set up and the knockdown. For example; you knock down the 8 middle pins, you would get points (I haven't figured out how many points yet).  If you get the split you would get the setup plus a spare bonus (adding the score from the next 2 frames plus points from an incremental point system based on the difficulty of the spare) and the 10 pin points. So there's still incentive to get all ten in two throws but getting a strike would still only be 10 points and you wouldn't get the points added from the next frames. 

This of course isn't discrediting the current way to play. It's perfectly challenging and fun for the average player, but once you get to be a ninja bowler, I would imagine it would get kind of boring to play and especially watch as a spectator.  Maybe I'm crazy, maybe I'm not and this is a good idea and could be implemented in other sports too.  Imagine if you got 4 points for a longer (more difficult) field goal kick?  Tell me I'm not the only one who's thought about this. 

 In conclusion, I just wrote an entire blog post about fucking bowling. 

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