As I was getting a bowling ball drilled a while back, I told the driller I did not want a slug in the thumb hole. He told me that was not a good idea, and I asked, “Why not? I know people who don’t use thumb slugs and they bowl perfectly well.”
“Bowling balls have changed,” he said. “Newer balls are made of resin, and this creates friction when your thumb tries to come out of the ball. Without the slug, your thumb will get torn up every time you bowl.”
I was in a hurry, and I would not have been able to return to the ball driller for several weeks, and so I acquiesced to him and allowed the slug to be put into my thumb hole. I still am curious as to whether what he said about the thumb, ball material, and friction is true, but at least I have a specific thing to test. This, as you’ll see later, is a crucial point to the argument I am about to make.
As the days following that drill session wore on, and I scrolled through my Facebook wall and read the myriad of bowling posts, a thought began to form in my mind. The thought is this: What happens when a person either inquires about or argues for something, and another person responds by saying, “That is the old way of thinking or doing things, but the times have changed and we need to change with it.” And that’s the end of the response.
On the surface, that argument appears to be true. After all, if even only one of the factors in any given equation is changed, it is logical to assume that the end result will be different unless another factor changes to counter-act the changed variable. So while the statement is true, it is not necessarily true with regards to what it is arguing against. Returning to the point I made of my driller giving me a specific reason for his claim that change has impacted this specific aspect of ball drilling, I feel this is of the utmost importance whenever one is having a discussion (not just for bowling, but for everything).
If this is not done, and blanket statements (such as “The game has changed,” “Today’s balls make it too easy to score,” etc.) continue to be used to argue without providing specific reasons, then many bowlers will be confused through misinformation, and will not learn the skills needed to become a great bowler.
At this time, I do not have the answers to any of the important questions, such as “Are thumb slugs really necessary?” “Is a figure 8 swing really superior to a more traditional swing?” “And are all of these new things superior to the things of the past?” It could even possibly be that both work, or one works for an individual but the other doesn’t.
Another thought related to this is: What about fundamentals? Are there fundamental ideas in bowling that won’t change regardless of how much bowling balls or lane conditions change? How does one know what is a fundamental and what isn’t? This would seem to be at odds with the popular axiom, “Everyone has a different style, and they are all okay” (this being a blanket statement.)
I plan on doing a lot of research to find sufficient answers to these types of questions, and I will report back as I find them out! In the meantime, I urge everyone to promote useful discussions using reason and specifics, instead of fostering harmful ones using blanket statements.