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Bowling Has a New Image: Cool

Ten-pin bowling is making a comeback among millions of Americans and people around the world who enjoyed the sport as children. Bowling is no longer just a Saturday afternoon hobby, it has been revived as a professional sport.

During the 1970s, the professional bowlers tour was a staple of weekend television, pulling in high ratings. But during the 1980s and 1990s, bowling's popularity faded. And bowling tournaments were no longer televised.

To help revive bowling, the Professional Bowlers Association hired Steve Miller, a former NIKE executive. His first step: changing the image of bowlers.

"The ‘80s and the ‘90s suffered from that historical perception, ‘I'm big, I am fat, and I bowl’," explained Mr. Miller.

Chris Barnes, a professional bowler, says a new image has helped increase interest in the sport. "Having a personality is a good thing, and it has grabbed a different audience and has increased our fan base."

Now, bowling broadcasts are showing events that highlight competition and tricks. And now, local bowling alleys sponsor midnight bowling, and other theme events.

Teenagers have discovered bowling. Phil Dehann's team in Grand Rapids, Michigan is the state champion. "Everyone is really cool with it now."

While bowling was once mostly for men, women are also getting interested in the game. Earlier this year, Liz Johnson came closer than any woman ever to winning a Professional Bowling Association tournament.