In an effort to rate the impact of twenty-first century technology on a sport that dates back to ancient Egypt, Geico (the insurance company with the erudite cockney lizard for a mascot) sponsored the first ever U.S. Professional Bowling Association (PBA) ‘Plastic Ball Championship’ earlier this year.

What was the catch? The participating bowlers had to use identical vintage balls.

According to the PBA, the rate at which amateur league bowlers are racking up perfect games has increased twenty-fold since 1980. And the PBA thought that was probably more attributable to advances in bowling ball technology than to overall increases in bowlers’ skill.

Apparently, today’s bowling balls are made from a very different material than those of the 1980s and before, and may have special cores that effect how they veer. About all that’s the same as it was 30 years ago is that the balls are still the same size and still must weigh ten pounds.

The net effect is, the new balls actually grip the alley floor better to roll truer and remain out of the gutter when hooking more drastically.

So, who won the tourney?

Not one of the old school seniors who grew up with the vintage balls, as you might expect. No, Jeff Carter, described by the PBA as a ‘contemporary power player’, took home the (US)$180,000 prize. He told reporters afterwards, “I just put my [usual] game into slow motion and went from there.”

Leave a Reply