Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Rules of Bowling: The USBC Hates Ambidexterity

This is the first in a series of posts titled "The Rules of Bowling," in which I examine the rules of tenpin bowling as spelled out by the USBC in its publication The 2008-2009 USBS Playing Rules and Commonly Asked Questions. The rules of bowling do not come close to the complexity and detail of the rules of golf, baseball, or even basketball, but there are a few gems in there. For the first post in this series, I discuss the rule concerning the use of both hands in delivery in a tournament.



Does anyone else find this rule strange? In essence, it says that people who can bowl with both hands are not permitted to do so. If I had to guess, the intent of Rule 328 is to eliminate unfair advantages. For example, if I was ambidextrous I might go after the 7 pin righty and the 10 pin lefty. Would this give me an advantage not available to others? Yes, but there are plenty of examples of this in bowling already. There is guy in our league who is about 6'6" and 250 pounds. He can whip a 16 lbs ball 24 mph. I can't do this. Does he have an unfair advantage? He certainly has an advantage that I don't, but I wouldn't call it unfair. I would call it lucky that he was born a beastly sized human, at least from the perspective of bowling, but we do not penalize him for it. Then, why is the use of both hands in a tournament grounds for disqualification? I can think of two reasons. Once upon a time, some rule making bureaucrat got his ass kicked by some dude using both hands. The other possible reason is that the USBC hates ambidexterity.

9 comments:

  1. I belive the intent of the rule is to preserve the accuracy of the handicap. That's why the rule applies to only handicap & classified tournaments and not scratch tournaments.

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  2. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "preserve the accuracy of the handicap". Do you mean that you could sandbag by using your off hand?

    I had a thought that this was about injury. Let's say you're a righty, but you break your hand. Now, you have to bowl lefty. This way, you could establish a new handicap for your left hand and continue to compete. Still, this would punish folks who are ambidextrous. I would advocate allowing you to choose how your handicap is established, whether for both hands or for one hand. This would allow ambidextrous folks to take advantage of being able to use both hands, while letting folks suffering from injury compete too.

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  3. It would also allow a right hander to establish a lower average by using their left hand, and then use that average while bowling right handed in handicap tournaments. Do you want to bowl against a 230 average bowler who gets handicap as if he's a 170? I don't.

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  4. That's what I meant by "sandbag by using your off hand". It seems like this would already be covered by USBC Rule 17.a.3. which defines "establishing an average below the player’s ability to gain an unfair advantage in handicap or classified competition" as an unfair tactic.

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  5. As someone who bowls with both hands, I'm just looking for a tournament for like-skilled individuals. If I were to try bowling in a league with the other hand (Lefty), I would just use an alias and just take that equipment inside. FYI -It is a tremendous advantage to shoot the corner pins with the other hand. You have consistent oil for all of your shots.

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  6. Alright. I thought there might be two handed folks out here who find this rule unfair. I can think of no good reason why the rules of bowling shouldn't be able to accommodate this.

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  7. I find the rule to be strange. I bowl with both hands due to an injured shoulder and get crazy looks when I switch hands.

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  8. the people who cant complain about unfair advantage. they were not complaining when i broke my hand and had to start over from 215avg rt handed to a 58avg lt handed. they shure started to complain when i was at 215 lt handed also. now after six surgerys im bowling about 230 both hands. hell ya i have an advantage. but thats why i have two avgs so i cant cheat. you pick the hand i'll beat you.

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  9. this rule, like many in golf, is NUTS! why can't I bowl left handed to pick up the 7 pin if I so choose? Does it give me an advantage? NOPE! If you don't like it, then learn to do it yourself!. Rule 328? THREE TWENTY EIGHT? Holey Mackeral!!!!! that many rules? I thought bowling was supposed to be fun?

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