James Wilson founded Penn Law in 1790 to give the members of his bowling league something to do during the daytime, and the Penn Law Bowling League (PLBL) has abided as the backbone and spiritual tentpole of the institution ever since. Through untold generations, social upheavals and awakenings, births, deaths, droughts, blizzards, boom-times, recessions, war, peace, and the slow passage of time that weaves these threads into the textiles we call our lives, and our lives in turn into the tapestry of history, there has remained one constant: on Wednesday evenings, Penn Law students gather together to unwind, enjoy each other’s company, and bowl poorly.
The League comprises sixteen teams (because that is how many lanes there are at our bowling alley), with four law students per team. PLBL uses the handicap system to ensure that all regular season games are theoretically competitive. At the end of each semester, the two teams who have won the most games compete in a non-handicapped, best-of-three final match to be honored as the season champion and recipient of the Jesus Quintana Cup. Despite the nominally competitive nature of the League’s activities, all who enjoy good times are encouraged to apply regardless of bowling skill.
Teams from the previous year automatically retain their membership in the League, and new teams are selected by lottery at the beginning of the fall semester. Membership in the League is a weekly commitment, and individuals who plan to ever miss bowling as a matter of personal preference (rather than due to illness or one-time conflict) should refrain from applying so that their spots may go to those who intend to immerse themselves fully in the PLBL experience. Occasional absences being inevitable, however, the League invites other law students to serve as substitutes for their ill and conflicted classmates as necessary. Bowling season concludes two weeks before the end of classes each semester.