Bowling emerging as new winter sports option

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Reporter

In Alabama, the winter months have traditionally been reserved for mourning or celebrating the failures or successes of local football programs. Basketball has been used as the typical winter sports placeholder, providing the sporting fix fans desire until warmer weather comes around and lures them back outside. However, as of this year there is a new winter sport emerging across the state that is beginning to gain traction.

The AHSAA has declared bowling an emerging sport for the 2014-2015 season, and is planning on making the sport fully sanctioned for the 2015-16 campaign. Thompson High School as well as Spain Park High School both have been competing in this inaugural bowling season, which has been unique due to its classification as an emerging sport.

“It’s an emerging sport this year,” said Michael Craycraft, head coach of the Thompson team. “What that means is that there is no set format for our matches, we get to try out different ways of conducting the matches to see what works.”

Per AHSAA.com, there are 12 regular season matches allowed this year under the emerging sport guidelines. The first allowed contest date was Nov. 17, and the season will conclude on Jan. 31. Before the 2015-16 season begins, the AHSAA will decide on specific rules for how all matches will be conducted moving forward.

How the season will be structured is an area of debate, as AHSAA officials and coaches will decide over the summer which formats from this season worked best. The home team for each match has decided the format during this year. Stephen Hobbs, Spain Park’s head coach, explains how the games have been formatted.

“Each team has five bowlers,” Hobbs explained. “One of the most common ways to score a match are to bowl three games under the Baker Format, where one bowler bowls one frame, then the next guys on the team bowls the next and so on. Every bowler bowls two frames under this format. Then after those three games, each player bowls one individual 10 frame game. All the pins from both formats are added up and whoever has the most won.”

“The other, most common way to score a match that we’ve used,” said Hobbs, “is to bowl two Baker Format games and two individual games. This takes longer, but is more advantageous for good bowlers because it allows them to bowl more frames to get their averages up.”

Whatever format the AHSAA decides to use, the future looks bright for this emerging winter sport.