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Time May Fly, But the Truly Timeless Never Dies… Like BJI, for Instance – November 2008 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros

Time May Fly, But the Truly Timeless Never Dies...  Like BJI, for Instance

BOWLERS JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL — the oldest sports magazine in the country — is celebrating its 95th year with this issue. That is much more than a great accomplishment. It is historical. And considering that the magazine continues to flourish when many major industry integers have toppled into ignominy, it is nothing short of heroic.

One of the last bastions of a formidable army that has withered from a force of almost 10 million regulars at its peak to less than 2.5 million over the years, BJI continues to rally the troops with such Thomas Paines of bowling as Mort Luby Jr., Jim Dressel, Bob Johnson, Wally Hall, Lyle Zikes, Mike McGrath, J.R.  Schmidt, Bill Spigner, etc.

Among the many contributions of these writers, none is more relevant and critical to the sport than their combined effort to preserve and remind us of bowling’s glorious past. 

One of the most misguided and alarming expressions I hear in bowling is that smug and cynical expression: "The past is dead." This assertion is often made by neophytes who keep filtering into a struggling industry. 

Unfamiliar with the real nature of the beast and not wanting to display their ignorance of what has transpired in years gone by, they flippantly assert, "What counts is today and tomorrow. The past is dead and over with."

Let me assure you that the past is never dead; it is very much alive, for good or evil.

I would agree that the public-at-large does not have a vivid sense of the past. Most people live in the present and in the future, and are well satisfied in doing so. But for those who would lead with- out a keen sense of the past, the present is blurred and the future is akin to a nightmare.

The concern is not so much that the past tends to repeat itself, but that without knowledge of the past, we are much less able to forecast and prepare for the future.  Indeed, much of what we plan for today and tomorrow is wisely predicated on what we have learned from the models and patterns of the past.  Since recorded history began, many great nations have come and gone, but many of their problems remain; especially the one that great democracies are still attempting to solve — how to realize both freedom and security at the same time. Continuing to study past attempts may help us find a solution.

Likewise, to a large extent, team bowling is dead; but the spirit it generated years ago is not dead, and will never die. Yet, until the leadership in this sports business learns what that spirit means, and how it behaves under varying conditions, we will never be qualified to handle its return. 

Furthermore, the past often seems dead because it is presented in a deadly fashion. The great teachers of bowling are almost as rare as the great teachers of history.  They know more than pendulum swing, step-cadence, pin-inside, angle-of-entry, etc., that bland methodology that can be found in almost any basic instructional manual. More important, exalted tutors know how to motivate and inspire.

To make the past come alive requires passion as well as knowledge. After digesting the rudiments of the game, the bowling instructor ideally should be more of a poet than a scholar. He must grasp the philosophy of the sport, or he has grasped nothing. 

If we continue to lose regulars in this dwindling army of bowlers, it will probably be because we continue to pay too much attention to the immediate, short-term needs of the present, and too little attention to the industry's foundations of the past.

People fade away, objects perish, but the past persists forever.  Lacking this understanding, we succumb to false hopes, pursuits and expectations.

Again, hats off to "the Journal" and all who contributed through the years to make it the promising beacon that it is. 

It was a privilege to have been part of the first 95.

May the next 95 be as eventful.

Republished with permission of Luby Publishing.