WE control the elevator

Today, I am going to write about “sending the elevator back down.”

I once watched an interview with the actor Kevin Spacey in which he said: “I believe that if you achieve any kind of success in life, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down….”

“…No matter what floor you are on, there is always someone just below, waiting for a chance to be invited in.”

You can see Kevin Spacey talk about it a little more in this video clip:

Spacey was talking about business and success in the entertainment industry, but I believe that it applies to hobbies, violin playing, painting, competitive hot dog eating, singing, gymnastics, video games… ANY sort of activity in which you strive to become better. This philosophy is, therefore, a natural fit for the bowling world:


I have seen so many instances of successful bowlers sending the elevator back down. I saw a 10-year-old bowler, who looked up to the top players (older teens) in his youth league, beaming with joy when he received a few pointers from those same older bowlers — his idols. Those idols convinced the younger bowler to bowl some local tournaments, dispensed a few tips, and pointed him to the local pro shop for advice and quality drilling. They even went so far as to pool funds and present the younger bowler with a gift of a new ball for his birthday.

I saw a post from a local amateur bowler who came in for some Sport practice at a center and wound up running into a regional pro. The pro invited him to practice alongside, and dispensed tips and mental game advice along the way. The pro didn’t talk down to, or look down on, the other bowler; he simply treated him as an equal, sharing strategies, and giving him some valuable pointers to help him compete in an upcoming PBA regional.

I know a few proprietors who are old enough to compete on the Senior Tour and who have put in many years of service to their centers. They’ve probably earned a nice weekend vacation or two — but instead I find them in their centers on a Sunday, giving lessons, drilling balls, running birthday parties and introducing the joy of bowling to the next generation.

At Bowl Expo I heard a story about a national PBA title winner (and future hall-of-famer) who showed up at Junior Gold 2016 for a 2-hour autograph-signing and photo session with fans, and when the time was up, he stayed 2 extra hours to make sure that everyone who was in line to meet him got to do so. He posed for every picture, answered every question and signed autographs till everyone was gone.

Two local coaches, with probably 50+ years of experience between them, spend their summers traveling to local centers and teaching Learn To Bowl classes for beginners, because they know that the best way to grow the sport is to introduce kids to the competition and camaraderie of organized, certified youth leagues. AND, they know that kids are better equipped for their first session of league (and therefore more likely to stay with the sport) if they have been instructed in the basics before the league season even starts. Those same two coaches also travel around the country, teaching parents and other aspiring coaches how to become better, more responsive instructors.

If bowling has been good to you — as it has to me and all of the people who I’ve just mentioned — we all have the responsibility to send the elevator back down.

Even if I haven’t named the people in this post, you can probably think of people just like them, who take the time and energy to show others the ropes. We (the industry) benefit just as much as the beginners from this teamwork.

At one time, we were ALL non-bowlers. We were all beginners and we didn’t know how to keep score, aim, make adjustments or follow the rules.

We became bowlers because someone showed us how.

Many of us stuck with bowling because someone encouraged us to get better.

At one point we had never bowled in a league, but we signed up for one because someone told us about league bowling.

It’s not just the pros, major title winners, or even “good” or “great” bowlers who run the elevator. In truth, the responsibility falls on anyone and everyone who has been impacted positively by bowling.

If bowling has brought you joy, great friendships, wonderful memories, and somehow made you a better person – why not introduce that experience to someone else’s life?

We are ALL in charge of the elevator.

© 2017 by Kevin Hong