Bowlers Journal International marks 100th year

Wall Street Journal | Chicago Tribune | Times Union | Chicago Sun-Times

One hundred years ago, a shoe salesman and devoted bowler named Dave Luby started a weekly bowling magazine.

“He wasn’t schooled as a journalist, but Luby made up for it with enthusiasm and devotion to bowling,” Bowlers Journal reports.

The magazine turned 100 in November, an occasion that’s made the pages of several of the country’s newspapers.

On Monday, Kevin Helliker reported on the big anniversary, noting that fewer than 100 of the country’s 10,000 magazines have lasted so long, and the industry the magazine covers isn’t doing so great, either.

As a magazine that covers bowling, Bowlers Journal operates at the intersection of bad and worse. Not only is the magazine industry troubled, losing advertisers to the Internet. But since 1980, the number of competitive bowlers in America has plummeted from almost nine million to about two million, leaving most bowling publications with no place to go except broke. The latest to tumble: 20-year-old Bowling This Month, a magazine that published its final issue this autumn, citing economic difficulties.

But this isn’t a magazine for casual bowlers, Helliker wrote.

Bowlers Journal is for bowlers who own their shoes, whose balls are custom drilled to fit their fingers and whose leagues play one or more nights a week more than half the year. If once that described a significant percentage of America, it no longer does. And yet the number of Bowlers Journal subscribers stands where it did back in the sport’s heyday—at about 20,000.


Mitch Smith reported on the magazine’s 100 years Dec. 1 for the Chicago Tribune.

The magazine, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last month, is one of America’s oldest sports periodicals. It caters to those who spend hundreds of dollars on high-performance balls, attend weekend tournaments and can rattle off the names of bowling royalty as easily as a Cubs die-hard could list the team’s starting lineup.

On Nov. 11, Pete Daughtery reported on the magazine in the (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union.

Bowlers Journal, which first published Nov. 8, 1913, has been a consistent source of tenpin information for a century. Other bowling-themed periodicals have come and gone, but BJI — it subsequently added “International” to its name — continues to make monthly appearances in mailboxes worldwide.

And on Nov. 9, Dale Bowman wrote about the anniversary for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bowlers Journal turned 100 Friday.

That’s well short of the beginning of bowling celebrated in the Egyptian mummy exhibit at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, but it does feel as if Bowlers Journal International has been around, well, forever.

Bowlers Journal International, meanwhile, has noted all the attention on its Twitter account, including links to a timeline of the magazine and photos of early covers. But, as it’s done for the last century, Bowlers Journal is still focusing on the details of bowling.

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