A League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Bowling Through The Decades


Bowling Through The Decades: The 2000s

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
A black leatherette half-circle bag, with white handles, features a pink cat with swirled tail
Red Tango bowling bag purse

Barbie, blonde hair tied up in a red scarf, wears a colorful ‘50s bowling shirt and short skirt and carries a matching bowling bag in one hand a black bowling ball in the other
Bowling Champ Barbie

Close-up shot of white and red bowling pins reflecting on a shiny light wood surface

Ex-Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Mike Slade and Rob Glaser buy the PBA for five million dollars and move its headquarters from Akron, Ohio, a city that made tires, to Seattle, Washington, the home of Microsoft.

Clothing designers from Prada to Nine West debut bowling-inspired shoes and bags. Prada’s perforated leather bowling bag costs $1,220, while a pair of Roots red-and-white bowling shoes go for $102.

As part of its nostalgic series, Mattel introduces Bowling Champ Barbie, who, according to promotional materials, “captures the excitement of one of America’s most popular participation sports!”

The famed White House lanes, in the Old Executive Office Building, close after 9/11.

Let's Bowl! premieres on Comedy Central. The show, described as a cross between The People’s Court and Bowling For Dollars, has participants bowl against each other to settle feuds and win nearly worthless prizes. The show airs from 2001 to 2002.

The PBA signs an exclusive three-year deal with a three-year option with ESPN in 2001.

“It's becoming hip to be a bowler,” proclaims the Los Angeles Times in 2001. “The days of beer-bellied, chain-smokin' bowlers are gone,” says the story. “A younger, more upscale crowd is putting the lie to the down-market stereotypes of bowlers past.”

In 2002, Bowlingshirt.com, a St. Louis-based catalog company, sells more than two million dollars worth of embroidered '50s-era-style bowling shirts.

Lucky Strike Lanes opens in Hollywood in 2003. The upscale bowling center boasts gourmet food and a dress code. Bowling leagues and beer pitchers are banned at the lanes, where well-heeled players pay $75 per hour to roll.

In 2003, the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) ceases its tour and operations. In an effort to protect the history and heritage of women's bowling and strengthen the future of the sport for women, the Women's International Bowling Congress acquires the rights and assets of the PWBA in 2004.

PBA membership surpasses its all-time high, reaching more than 3,800 in 2003.

In 2005, 1.6 million households tune in to watch the PBA Dallas Open on ESPN—a record for a live PBA telecast on ESPN.

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