|3Ls on a team called "Snakes on a Lane" gear up for another long night of bowling at Liberty Lanes: top, Melissa Solomon and Mike Gorenstein; bottom, Anne Bider and David Rosenthal. With 80 members, the Penn Law Bowling League is among the most popular student groups.|
What do bowling and law school have in common? Not much. And that is exactly why more than 80 Penn Law students, like Michael Bolos, braved frigid temperatures last winter to travel to a bowling alley on the outskirts of West Philadelphia.
Bolos, president of the Penn Law Bowling League, has been bowling since he could tie the laces of those funny looking shoes. When he heard Penn Law School had its own bowling league he jumped at the opportunity.
"I think it's absolutely the reverse," Bolos said when asked whether the league gets in the way of his studies. "I think it really helps you. I think you need to take a break from school every now and again. Sometimes it's hard to force yourself to do that. But it helps you study harder - it helps you just get that mental rest you need sometimes."
As it happens, the bowling league is one of the most popular student groups at the Law school. So popular, in fact, that students put their names in a lottery every year just for a chance to throw a spare. Last semester, more than 30 teams applied for a spot in the league and only 20 were selected.
The league meets every Wednesday at Liberty Lanes and bowls until the wee hours of the night. But the sacrifice is worth it, Bolos said, because the students form valuable friendships that last throughout their years at Penn Law.
"One of the things it really does well is it really builds comraderie and relationships among law students," he said. "And that turns into relationships for studying, for getting outlines and the materials you need - although we try to strictly prohibit doing work at the bowling league."
As if tearing a page out of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, Bolos said the league is not only reviving an American pastime, it is forging a community.
"America used to be all about bowling; it used to be a big community event for people," he said. "It's something that has fallen out of style lately. Being over at Liberty Lanes with Penn Law really carries that old tradition through." - Matthew E. Pilecki