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Dustin Markowitz’s bowling tribute

Dustin Markowitz, at right, with one of his friends.
Dustin Markowitz, at right, with one of his friends.
Courtesy of Dustin Markowitz

Once again, Dustin Markowitz has written something so poignant that it bears spotlighting.

Dustin (shown in photo at right) unquestionably is one of my favorite journalists. And because he writes about bowling, that makes him even worthier. The co-host of Bowling Evolved, Dustin is a bowling analyst, a bowling coach, a bowling crusader and a bowling free-thinker.

Oh, there’s one more thing.

Dustin, who was born in Whittier and lives in Laughlin, Nev., is a top-grade bowler with a handful of perfect games and 800 series.

And he's a mere 28 years old.

His comments and philosophy about bowling have appeared in this column before. Dustin recently provided more insights on his Facebook page.

That post displayed once again Dustin’s passion for the game and eventually turned into a mini-essay.

With Dustin’s permission, I’m repeating his recent post:

“Do you ever watch kids bowl? I know I do. I have a great group of kids, now teens and adults, who have fallen in love with the sport of bowling and have a great time with it. They are friendly, considerate, competitive and willing to help each other grow within the game. I listen to them as they talk about their heroes on the PBA and who inspires them as bowlers. They talk about how great it is to be out there each week. They talk about the fun and the desire to want to be better. I watch them and realize that there is something I’ve been missing as both a competitive bowler and a bowling journalist and that is the answer to the question, ‘What happened to bowling?’

“Three years ago I asked that question as a way to try and make bowlers realize that the key to making our sport better was to change our attitude and inspire the younger generation to shape the sport in a way we desire. Now while I still believe that to be true, I think I now understand why we have allowed ourselves to fall into our current state.

“The fact is we all are the same when it comes to our attitude about bowling. Every person who has grown up in the sport and reading this right now, including the man behind the keyboard, has complained and spit fury at the nature of the sport. Justified or not, we all have been angry and hurt by how bowling has treated us. We complain about how easy the game has become. We complain about how the associations don’t care. We complain about money, awards, equipment, conditions, layouts, technology and most importantly we complain about each other. And why? Why at the end of the day, do bowlers continue to complain? The answer is that we have forgotten what made us fall in love with the sport to begin with.

“For just a second, I want you, the reader, to put yourself back into the ‘you of the past.’ I want you to be that 4-year-old kid with his first bowling ball. The 13-year-old outcast who found a social outlet. The 17-year-old athlete who discovered how enjoyable the sport can be. I want you to put yourself back and remember what made you fall in love with bowling in the first place. Remember not the times when you hated the prize fund in your league but rather what it felt like to bowl on your first team with friends.

“Remember not the grind of having to figure out a new technology but rather the thrill of getting to throw a new bowling ball. Remember not the dread of ‘having to go bowling’ but instead the time when you had the ‘opportunity to go bowling.’ In short, look at bowling through the eyes of a child.

“It’s too easy for us to hate what we see. However, I would venture to bet not a single one of you were malicious in the beginning. Not a single one of you cared about the money or that the shot was too easy. We did not start bowling to argue about sandbaggers or the oil pattern. No, we focused on having fun in a sport we all fell in love with.

“We found ourselves washed in a euphoria of excitement and camaraderie that is not quite found in any other sport in the world. Men, women and children of all ages, races and creeds are able to find a similar stomping ground and enjoy what it is that bowling has to offer. We watched our heroes with a smile, be it the generation of Fazio and Allison, Roth and Holman, Ozio and Aulby or Williams and Weber. Simply stated, we did not hate the game but rather embraced it. We found the good and held onto it until we allowed our emotions and cynicism to dictate our enjoyment.

“I look today at my kids who are bowling and swell with pride at them. I am proud to see them enjoying what our sport has to offer but ultimately sadden because I realize there is something everyone else seems to have lost. Something special, something simple and something I know I am going to try my damnedest to change in me, you and everyone who wants to fall back in love with this game.

“So what happened to bowling? We grew up.”