Leah, a good question. Back before the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) there were separate governing groups for men adults (ABC - American Bowling Congress), women adults (WIBC - Women's International Bowling Congress), and juniors (YABA - Young American Bowling Alliance). Each was run as separate entities with common rules regarding pins, lanes, bowling balls, approaches, scoring, etc. They were based in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, suburb. Several years ago the delegates of the three groups merged their operations and later moved the new USBC headquarters to Arlington, Texas, where it remains today.
Important roles of the USBC is to regulate the various aspects of the bowling environment, to set standardized rules of play, to regulate score recognition, to operate the annual USBC Open Championship Tournament, and to oversee the various local bowling associations around the country.
Without standardized rules of play, bowling pins could be of different weight and might be of any weight, rather than within a tight parameters of weight. Pin's sizes could also be subject to various heights, instead of being regulated to standardized heights.
Without set rules of play, bowling balls could be any weight a bowler could handle, approaches and lanes could vary in length and width and may or may not have oil conditioner applied to them. There would be no score recognition, no rules on lane courtesy, etc. Bowling would be a grab-all bag of mis-matched pins, balls, lanes, approaches, and so on.
Imagine bowling on a pair of lanes where one lane is 20 feet wide while the other is only 15 feet long, where some pins weigh 12 pounds (impossible to knock down), while others weigh one pound. Some are made of wood, some plastic, some concrete. Some are one foot high, others are four feet high. One lane may have a spot of oil, the other as dry as a desert.
There would be no recognition for scores, no regulation of league rules, etc. It would be chaos.
A good overview can be found here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bowlin
Every sport and game (even Monopoly, etc.) needs rules in order for play to be consistent. The USBC provides that and so much more, for a relatively low sanction fee. Hope this helps. Thanks for asking. -- Lou
"Always believe in yourself!"
"Decide to be happy!"
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