Over the last couple years, one thing has become clear. I'm not a league bowler. Operating a pro shop, I naturally have more of an interest in how everyone else is doing. Whether they've just purchased a new ball, are going to purchase a new one, if I think they could really use a certain ball, a surface change, etc., the list goes on and on. I get much more caught up in how everyone else is doing than how I'm doing, which makes it difficult for me to concentrate. Also, the vast majority of leagues aren't very competitive. Either they're ruled by handicap, or the few scratch leagues left are so concerned about retaining members that they spread the prize fund out and remove most of the reasons you bowl a competitive league in the first place. All are usually contested on a house shot, which removes the majority of the challenge. Why so high and mighty you might ask? What may appear as elitism or condescention to others is really just a great desire for challenge. When something fails to be consistently challenging, it loses much of its allure. We as humans are programmed to achieve, and when everything has been achieved in a certain area, we move onto other areas. Achieved everything already? More condescending comments? No, not really. Everyone gets to a point where they have to decide how much something is worth to them. When the cost is perceived to be greater than the reward, it's a simple process of logic to get to the point where someone will say, "I've done what I really want to do, anything more just isn't worth it to me." So it may not be delusions of grandeur, it could simply be achieving the goals they set for themselves. I've achieved what I wish to achieve in league bowling. I've won league championships, had the high game, high series, high average, things of that nature. The more the years go by, the more it feels like going through the motions. I'm motivated by competition, so while most bowl league just for the fun of bowling, it's different for me. I much prefer tournaments to league bowling, but given the right league or set of personal challenges, it could be very fun. I have some new goals this year. In my city, our bowling association awards a bowler of the year, and has an annual "Top Ten" tournament, where the top ten composite averages from the year prior have a small tournament. There is no money involved, only pride, and although it's seen as a very big deal to some, and something almost laughable to others, it's still something a lot of people care about. I've qualified for this tournament every time that I've been eligible, which requires bowling at least 2/3rds of a league at both centers in town. If you only bowl at one center, no matter how many leagues, you will not be eligible. While I've placed well before, I've never won it, and I've been so busy in recent years that I haven't been eligible for the last several. I've also never won bowler of the year, though I'm usually in the top 5 when eligible. While these have never been goals before or something I've pursued, I'm going to make an effort this upcoming year to win both. That's not to say that I haven't wanted to win them in the past, I had just seen them more as a feather in the cap than a focus. It's not for personal gain or recognition, it's a challenge. I like setting goals and accomplishing them, no matter what it is. With my involvement in the local bowling community being so heavy, it's more for my "resume" or credentials. Those things are big deals in this community, and I want to make sure I make what's important to the bowling community important to me. I don't want to be the guy in the shop behind the register or drill press who never bowls and doesn't get involved. I want to be out there in the middle of everything and putting my effort and energy where it's going to be received and welcomed. Hopefully next year I'll be writing about success!