Mt. Vernon Register-News

Features

July 15, 2014

Why fewer people go bowling

WASHINGTON — Last week a bizarre political mini-scandal flared up and burned itself out within the span of 90 minutes. On Wednesday, TIME reported that the General Services Administration was soliciting bids to gut and renovate the White House bowling alley. The GSA called the alley's lanes "irreparable," noting that it had been 15 years since any maintenance had been done.

Once word of the request got out, it was time to cue the expected (and let's face it: not wholly unjustified) sniping from the GOP. Within 90 minutes of the initial TIME article's posting, the GSA solicitation disappeared without explanation. Crumbling infrastructure, a dead-on-arrival spending proposal, partisan warfare: just another day in Washington.

The gradual deterioration of the White House lanes mirrors a similar decline in the bowling industry nationwide, as Bloomberg Businessweek reported last week. The number of bowling centers in the U.S. has been trending downward for at least three decades. AMF Bowling, the world's largest bowling alley operator, has filed for bankruptcy twice since the turn of the millennium.

Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves. They're catering to more upscale clientele, adding in-house chefs, and branching out into other activities like laser tag and go-karts. Whether these gambits will pay off is a different question — "upscaling" has been a bowling industry trend since the early 2000s, but the decline the number of bowling centers has held incredibly steady since then — an unflinching downward line.

Geographically speaking, most of the nation's bowling centers are clustered around the Great Lakes and in the upper Midwest. The rust belt geography partially explains the difficulties faced by the industry in recent decades — manufacturing jobs have declined by about a third since 1986, mirroring the the drop in bowling centers over the same period.

Moreover, much of the nation's population growth in recent years has happened in the Sunbelt. But by and large, transplants to the region from northern states haven't taken their bowling league memberships with them. Bowling has always been a heavily seasonal pastime — interest peaks in the winter and ebbs in the summer. In warmer climes, there may simply be less incentive to spend an afternoon indoors on a warm, sunny day. Which raises an interesting question: Why aren't outdoor bowling alleys a thing?

1
Text Only
Features
  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.09.32 PM.png VIDEO: Stars react to Robin Williams' death

    Prior to the premiere of “The Expendables 3” in Los Angeles, several movie stars shared their thoughts on the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • job-fair.jpg Job market tilting toward workers

    The balance of power in the job market is shifting slowly toward employees from employers.

    August 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • ruralpoverty.jpg How rural poverty is changing: Your fate is increasingly tied to your town

    The town of Las Animas takes about five minutes to drive through when the one stoplight is blinking yellow, as usual. It's easy to miss but hard to escape. Just ask Frank Martinez.

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dartmouth.jpg Break the college cartel

    Ask liberals why college is getting so expensive, and they'll probably tell you it's a case of government neglect. Ask conservatives the same question, and they'll tell you the opposite.

    August 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 3.43.11 PM.png Your brain helps you judge a face before you even see it

    In a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers report that the amygdala — a part of the brain associated with decision making, memory and emotion — plays a part in telling us who to trust almost instantly.

    August 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140805-AMX-PORK5.jpg 'Baconholics' undeterred by 30-year high pork prices

    With images of pigs and barbecued meats tattooed on his left calf, Brian Polak is doing what he can to cope with the highest price of bacon in three decades. The 41-year-old self-proclaimed "baconholic" now often cures his own at home to help reduce costs.

    August 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140802-AMX-MARKETING021 (1).jpg Controversial Amway-style sales approach draws greater scrutiny

    Enrique Martinez didn't like chocolate, but he was eating as many as 10 pieces a day, drinking chocolate protein shakes and rubbing a chocolate-based skin cream on his face. The chocolate came from MXI Corp., which uses a controversial business model called multilevel marketing -- companies without a sales force that recruit their customers to sell products, often in bulk to other customers, who might in turn sell to other customers, and so on.

    August 4, 2014 1 Photo

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks