Endangered Sports 

A press release came across my desk a few weeks ago that caught my attention for two reasons. First, it was an actual paper, faxed press release, which is a rarity these days when our e-mail inboxes are usually crammed each morning. Second was the headline, which read: "Fighting the Decline in League Bowling."

Honestly, I never knew league bowling was an at-risk sport. Is there some kind of endangered sports list filled with the likes of croquet, lawn tennis and horseshoes? Do people throw galas and proudly proclaim their allegiance to Save the Shuttlecock?

While the threat of lagging bowling league numbers—down 50 percent over the last 20 years, according to the release—doesn't exactly seem like a national crisis, it did get me thinking about the old-fashioned play of yesteryear. The kind of play before the age of Wii, or Xbox, or even Atari, an age when people actually went outside.

That's right, long ago, there was no need for a national advertising campaign to encourage kids to go out and play. They actually did it on their own, and mothers had to yell at them to come inside.

I was one of those kids, forever flinging myself off a swing, making something out of mud or hanging from a tree only to get that resigned/irritated look from my mother as she wrestled with yet another wad of pitch in my hair.

As more people are forced to take a long, hard look at their finances, suddenly, an expensive game system doesn't seem quite so important. Nor does, gasp, having the biggest flat screen in the neighborhood—the one on which the image is so big, viewers actually go a little cross-eyed trying to take it all in.

Instead, it's the simple things that regain popularity. It's the things we can do at home with friends and family, and better yet, things that range in cost from cheap to free.

Believe it or not, kids, your lives will not end if you don't get the latest PSP game.

There are plenty of ways to entertain yourselves while getting some exercise and maybe even seeing the light of day and allowing your body to produce some vitamin D and stave off rickets.

Last spring, a group of Boise Weekly staffers discovered the joys of bocci ball. We didn't know the rules—we still don't—but we had a blast wandering around and throwing heavy balls at a smaller one. After that experience, several of us bought our own bocci sets.

I've spent countless hours wandering the back yard with my sister, taking advantage of an aging croquet set. After a few decades, the plastic covers on the heads have become cracked and brittle, meaning the covers are more likely than the balls to go shooting across the lawn. That's OK, though. It just makes the game more interesting.

While it's still cold outside, try crashing inside with a board game or a deck of cards. Better yet, head to Boise Parks and Recreation Department's Web site at cityofboise.org/parks and check out the list of adult sports leagues you can join.

You might even consider bowling. It's never been a sport I've been particularly good at (due in part to a strange skipping approach that seems to be ingrained in my DNA), but it's rare that even the most challenged bowlers don't end up having a good time during a bowling alley excursion.

You'll find all sorts of theme nights—disco, cosmic, etc.—and even leagues for those who find themselves entranced by the sport. And who can resist the opportunity to spend a few hours wearing two-toned rented shoes?

Besides, if you're really that bad of a bowler, maybe you can get them to inflate the gutter bumpers.

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