Evidence exists that sports similar to bowling were played in ancient Egypt and among Polynesian people. Hints of bowling can be also found in Homer’s epic Greek poem “Iliad.” Through the Middle Ages, a bowling game developed and became popular among monks. In the 1800s, nine-pin bowling took hold in the U.S. and was attractive to gamblers. In 1841 such betting was illegal, so an additional pin was added to skirt the law – and 10-pin bowling was invented.
Bowling, which has not been contested at an Olympic Games, became a Pan American sport in 1991.
The objective of this popular sport is widely known: bowl a hard ball down an alley and knock over as many pins as possible. Games are divided into 10 frames, with two attempts per frame to topple all the pins. Pins that are knocked over after the first attempt are cleared to give the player a clear path to the pins that are left over for the second throw.
The player’s score is equal to the number of pins knocked over plus extra points, which are obtained by bowling a strike or a spare. A strike knocks down all pins with the first ball. A spare knocks them all down with the second ball. A strike is worth 10 points (the 10 pins knocked over) plus a bonus equal to the score of the next two balls. If the next two balls are also strikes, the player obtains 30 points for the first strike. The extra points for a spare are calculated using the score of the next ball. A perfect game is 300 points, 12 strikes in a row.