Staten Island Bowling League Celebrates Gutter Balls
TRAVIS — Gutter balls, off-target shots and scores of under 140 — they're what's needed to earn a place in one Staten Island bowling league.
The Mediocre Bowling Association aims to be a league for players who enjoy the sport, but can't keep their ball on the lane.
"People who don't bowl well get the ESPN treatment," said Dan Derwin, 32, co-founder of the league. "They get articles online, awards for not being good."
The league, started by Derwin and Hillary Scott last year, celebrates their players' mediocrity in any way it can — writing news stories after each tournament, providing online stats for the league and profiles for their bowlers.
Once a month on Sundays, the 48 members of the Staten Island chapter take over the Showcase Entertainment Center in Travis for their tournaments.
Trophies range from a large White Russian — in honor of The Dude's favorite drink in "The Big Lebowski" — to a large Colt 45 bottle. They're awarded to the highest scorers, though some also recognize the worst players.
Despite its celebration of mediocrity, the league aims to be professional, Scott said.
"We treat everything as official as possible, but very tongue in cheek," said Scott, 27, a photographer.
Geoff Celis joined the league this year and was playing in last Sunday's tournament, the Great Divide, which pits the sexes against each other.
"It's pretty awesome," Celis said. "You feel like you don't have to be good to be in this league."
Celis said it was a fun way to spend a Sunday night, and even though he's gotten a bit competitive, nobody takes it too seriously.
"Everyone here is silly," he said.
At the end of the season, the top seven bowlers and one wild card compete for the Munson Cup — named after Woody Harrelson's character in the movie "Kingpin."
The winner gets to keep the trophy for the year and the league has a "hanging of the banner" ceremony at a local bar.
But if bowlers are too good, they need to find somewhere else to play. If, at the end of the season, players have an average of more than 140, they have to leave the league.
The association plans to expand beyond Staten Island with chapters across the country.
"We plan on having more chapters everywhere," Derwin said. "It would be the same thing — every month there's an event."
So far the pair is in talks with friends from Buffalo and Lancaster, Pa., who want to start their own chapter.
Membership in the league costs $35 plus the cost of bowling, and sign-up starts in September. People who want to start their own chapter should contact the association website.