Friday, April 20, 2007

My Thrill, Their Indifference

Last night I had the honor and pleasure of bowling with one of the finest female bowlers ever. Leanne Barrette is a bowling legend who won 26 women's professional national bowling titles, was women's professional bowler of the year twice, and was still doing very well on the women's tour when it shut down a few years ago. She is my favorite female bowler of all-time, and my grandfather and I used to love to watch her on TV, where she has appeared over 100 times. She now lives and works in the Sacramento area and bowls in one of the finest leagues in the nation in the bowling center in which I bowl.

Last night she substituted for a bowler in a junior-adult league in which I participate, and she bowled on my pair of lanes. Now I have seen in person nearly every great male and female bowler of the past forty years as well as numerous other famous people in many endeavors, so I am not the sort of person who is starstruck by anyone. I have even seen Leanne many times in the aforementioned league in which she participates weekly, and I bowl with her fiance, a professional bowler, in another league. But there was still something a little special in actually being down on the lanes with her, talking with her a little, and giving her low-fives when she struck and in hearing her say, "Nice shot" when I converted a difficult spare. It is not every day when as big a bowling fan as I am gets to bowl with a bowling superstar and one of his favorite bowlers of all-time.

But one thing that really struck me while bowling last night was how little the junior bowlers seemed to pay any attention to her. At the risk of sounding like the proverbial old fuddy-duddy who says, "When I was your age I tramped ten miles through the snow to get to school and another ten miles to get back home,"I have to say that when I was the age of those junior bowlers in my league last night, I would have been thrilled to death to bowl with one of the finest bowlers in history, and my eyes would have been riveted on every shot she made, just as they were last night, and I think most of my peers would have felt and acted the same way. But these kids, who are not casual bowlers but fairly serious, scratch-level bowlers, seemed to pay her no mind. When Leanne bowled, they were busy chatting with each other or on their cellphones and horsing around in some way or other. There was no sense of reverence or even respect for this bona-fide superstar of the bowling world, and I have to wonder if this is symptomatic of young people these days.

Do they have no heroes or idols except, perhaps, "American Idols" or other entertainment celebrities? Are they more or less indifferent to great achievers in other areas such as science, literature, art, and even sports? And does this blase attitude carry over into other aspects of their lives? If so, why? And is this a good or bad thing?

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