The one truly embarrassing moment in President Obama’s sit-down with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show came when Jay asked the Chief Executive if he had followed through on his promise, often articulated on the campaign trail, to replace the bowling lane installed at President Nixon’s request in 1969 with a basketball court. (The comedian was apparently unaware that Obama had announced back in December, after a chorus of dissent from the nation’s bowlers, that he’d decided to keep the lane.)
Obama replied that he’d been practicing his bowling but was still scoring so low that his game was “like the Special Olympics or something.” This lapse in taste quickly resulted in the President apologizing to Tim Shriver, the head of the Special Olympics. And, yesterday, at least one Special Olympian offered to take Obama on at the White House lane, and though the President has counterproposed a basketball game, it appears a sure thing that bowling will be staying in the Executive Mansion.
Last December, the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher half-whimsically suggested that RN’s lane be changed to accomodate duckpin bowling, the century-old variation on the game which originated in either Baltimore or Lowell, Massachusetts, and which is played mainly in areas fifty or sixty miles east or west of I-95 in Maryland and here and there in New England, as well as some parts of southern Quebec. Duckpin uses a much smaller ball than regular bowling, cupped in the hand rather than held, and it could be that the President would find it easier to excel in this sport than in standard bowling.