Is Bowling a Dying Sport? (The Reality You Should Know)



  • Bowling as a sport is not dying, but it has its own serious problems to overcome.
  • And there are practical solutions to implement so that bowling can grow in popularity once again.


Is bowling really a dying sport?

As the once-popular recreational activity faces stiff competition from alternative leisure options and encounters a decline in participation, many fans wonder what the future holds for this classic game.

Our exploration into the reasons behind bowling’s dwindling popularity and potential solutions to revive interest will provide insight into its prospects in today’s fast-paced world.

So if you’re curious about where bowling is headed, keep reading as we unpack what’s happening within the lanes and discuss possible ways to get back that elusive strike!

Is Bowling Really a Dying Sport?

Yes, to some extent, this assessment is true. According to recent statistics, the Bowling Centers industry’s market size, measured by revenue, is expected to be $3.3 billion in 2023, which is a significant decline of -7.7% (source).

However, the decline in the Bowling industry’s size does not necessarily mean that bowling is dying. In fact, bowling is still a popular sport with millions of people participating worldwide. According to the International Bowling Federation, more than 100 million people in over 90 countries participate in bowling.

Furthermore, the Bowling industry is still evolving, with new technologies and innovations regularly being introduced to enhance the game experience. For example, some bowling centers have introduced augmented reality features, interactive scoring systems, and mobile apps to help bowlers track their scores and progress.

Additionally, Bowling has become a popular social activity, with many casual bowlers enjoying the game as a fun way to spend time with friends and family. This trend has caused an increase in the number of family entertainment centers and bowling alleys that offer other attractions such as arcade games, laser tag, and bowling-themed restaurants.

Understanding The Decline In Bowling’s Popularity

is bowling a dying sport

Bowling’s decline in popularity can be attributed to several factors such as the emergence of alternative leisure activities, the aging of existing bowling centers and demographics, and the costly maintenance of these centers.

The Emergence Of Alternative Leisure Activities

The emergence of alternative leisure activities has played a significant role in the decline of bowling as a popular recreational pastime. In today’s fast-paced world, people have more options than ever before when it comes to how they spend their free time.

Activities such as video gaming, escape rooms, and virtual reality experiences offer unique and immersive entertainment that appeals to both younger audiences and those seeking novelty beyond traditional sports like bowling.

For example, esports has grown exponentially in recent years, attracting millions of players and spectators worldwide. Numerous competitions are organized around digital gaming titles with high cash prizes drawing the attention of those who might have once considered joining a bowling league for fun or friendly competition.

Additionally, the ease of access to streaming services like Netflix enables users to watch countless shows and movies at home without having to worry about making plans or social interactions often associated with visiting a local bowling alley.

With these numerous activities vying for people’s attention and disposable income, it is no surprise that the popularity of an age-old sport like bowling faces challenges in adapting its appeal to suit varying preferences amongst potential customers from diverse backgrounds.

The Aging Of Existing Bowling Centers And Demographics

Bowling has been around for decades, and many of the bowling centers we have today are quite old.

Many of these older bowling alleys are struggling to attract new customers, and their facilities can be outdated or in need of repair. This is made worse by the fact that younger generations aren’t showing as much interest in bowling as their parents or grandparents did.

The demographics of bowlers are also changing, with fewer people participating in league play than ever before. League participation is common among older players but is not as popular among younger players who prefer recreational activity instead.

Unfortunately, without league play, some small towns may struggle to keep their local alleys open due to a lack of revenue generation. Despite these challenges though, many newer high-end bowling alleys have popped up in recent years with better amenities like gourmet food options and luxury seating which cater more towards those looking for entertainment rather than simply sport.

The Cost Of Maintaining Bowling Centers

Maintaining a bowling center can be a costly affair, which is one of the factors contributing to the decline in popularity.

The cost of rent, equipment, utilities, and staff salaries adds up quickly. For example, maintaining and upgrading bowling lanes can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per lane! Bowling alleys also require regular maintenance to ensure that everything runs smoothly for players.

As a result of these costs, many smaller bowling centers have been forced out of business or have had to cut back on the number of lanes they offer. This makes it difficult for bowlers who wish to participate in leagues or tournaments as there are fewer locations available for them to do so. High-end bowling alleys that boast luxurious amenities such as gourmet food and cocktails have emerged as an alternative option but are relatively scarce due to their higher expenses.

Despite these challenges associated with maintaining modern-day bowling centers required by high-end clientele demands, improving profitability could help sustain them while simultaneously promoting sustainable growth within the industry.

Exploring Possible Solutions

Revitalizing Bowling Centers

If you’re a dedicated bowling player, you’ve probably noticed that many bowling centers are aging and in need of an overhaul. Here are some ways to revitalize these centers:

  1. Introduce modern technology like automatic scoring systems and touch-screen interfaces.
  2. Upgrade the decor and amenities to create a more attractive atmosphere for customers.
  3. Offer high-end food and drink options to entice customers to stay longer.
  4. Improve the cleanliness of the center and invest in regular maintenance to keep everything running smoothly.
  5. Create diverse entertainment options like live music or karaoke nights to attract younger crowds.
  6. Host regular tournaments or leagues to build a sense of community among local players.
  7. Provide personalized coaching services or group lessons for people looking to improve their skills on the lanes.

By focusing on these improvements, bowling centers can become exciting destinations for casual bowlers and dedicated players alike, helping boost participation in this timeless sport.

Attracting Younger Customers Through Social Media And Entertainment

As bowling’s popularity declines, it’s essential to reach out to a younger audience.

One way to attract them is through social media and entertainment. Using platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help you connect with potential customers by showcasing the fun aspects of bowling. You can share pictures of your high-end alleys or post videos of people enjoying themselves while playing the game.

To add more excitement to the experience, consider incorporating other forms of entertainment at your alley. You could host themed nights, such as neon parties or sing-alongs. Alternatively, you could offer arcade games or virtual reality experiences alongside traditional bowling activities. By adding these elements to your business strategy, you’re offering more than just bowling; you’re creating an all-encompassing experience that’ll keep players coming back for more.

Finally, think about partnering up with influencers who have significant followings on social media platforms popular among young adults such as TikTok or Snapchat. These collaborations will not only help increase awareness but also bring in new fans and followers who might not otherwise be interested in the sport.

Creating Hybrid Experiences That Combine Bowling With Other Activities

If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to enjoy bowling, consider trying out hybrid experiences that combine it with other activities. For example, there are now bowling alleys that offer glow-in-the-dark bowling or cosmic bowling. These options add an extra level of excitement and fun to the game, making it more attractive to younger customers.

Another idea is to combine bowling with arcade games or billiards.

Many modern bowling alleys have expanded their offerings beyond just traditional lanes and balls, creating an entertainment experience that can appeal to a wider audience. By combining several different types of games, these centers make themselves a one-stop shop for socializing and having fun with friends.

Incorporating Technological Innovations

One way to revive interest in bowling is by incorporating technological innovations into the game. For example, interactive systems like augmented reality and virtual reality can be integrated into the bowling experience to make it more engaging and exciting for younger players.

Bowling centers can also invest in high-tech scoring systems that provide real-time feedback on performance, helping bowlers improve their skills while making the game more competitive.


In conclusion, while it is true that bowling has experienced a decline in popularity over the years, there is still hope for its viability as a sport and recreation option in the future.

By revitalizing existing bowling centers, attracting younger customers through social media and entertainment, creating hybrid experiences that combine bowling with other activities, and incorporating technological innovations, we can revive interest in this beloved pastime.

Additionally, community and socialization remain important aspects of the sport despite technology’s increasing presence. And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll even see bowling included as an Olympic event! So let’s keep rolling those strikes and spares – the future of bowling looks promising indeed.

Last updated on April 10, 2023