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Sticks and Stones...

Author: Chuck Pezzano

There is ever increasing violence in sports, both on and off the field. 

The trend hasn’t gone unnoticed, and more than ever, newspapers and TV networks are taking a closer and more worried look.

For years, people in the United States laughed when they learned about the precautions that had to be taken in South American to protect players and officials during and after soccer games. They were amazed when it was revealed that a soccer game incident was blamed for starting a war in Central America. And they were stunned when moats had to be installed around playing fields to keep players and officials in, and spectators out.

But we have learned quickly. we have constant, questionable violence in the playing of such games as hockey, baseball, football and basketball. The most violent of all sports, boxing, simply because the main intent is violence, often sees better fights outside the ring than inside. And even in the once staid sports such as golf, tennis and bowling, the warning signs are there.

Some sports have managed to escape physical violence. No sport, including bowling, has been able to ward off the rise in abusive and obscene language and gestures.

In its coverage, TV asks for the exposure of what used to be considered offensive language.

When you put a mike in a boxer’s corner to catch a second’s words between rounds or talk to athletes or coaches in the heat of battle, you’re going to get heated words.

Bad language is nothing new in bowling, whether such means darn, dam, hell or any of the no-no words George Carlin refers to so often. But, though bowlers have used every word ever invented, and some of their own variations, they were usually confined to under the breath utterances or aimed towards the pins or areas  where they were seldom overheard by fellow bowlers and those others nearby. No longer. From the junior bowlers to the pros, the words blurt out., and the less done  about it, the more it is  done. Remember that old ditty, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” It could be wrong. Words may not hurt physically, but they can sure rub people the wrong way.

We have grown used to language changes, and teenage high school girls now often do a swearing job that would make any old time army sergeant proud, and maybe make him blush a little too. That doesn’t mean vile language is right or we must accept it. I can’t begin to attempt to determine what is proper language and actions and what isn’t, but some of the stuff that comes flying from bowler’s mouths these days sure won’t make many friends and influence others for the sport.

Bowling is an emotional sport on every level, and there must be releases and escape valves, whether they be words, gestures or physical actions.

But there must be limits because the next step is destroying equipment, followed by destroying other bowlers physically. We can’t build moats in bowling centers, but see through plastic barriers might someday come along if trends continue. 

Let’s talk our sport up, not down.

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.

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