Often, we think of sport as artistry. And the Lebron’s of the world are the Mona Lisa. But I’d like to introduce you to less of a Louvre piece and more of a homeless man’s graffiti – beautiful in it’s own right, but equally anonymous.
When you go to SkyCity for a bit of light-hearted bowling fun, what do you do when you bowl a strike? A casual shrug of the shoulders and a sheepish grin? Perhaps comment on how ridiculous the animations are on the TV and laugh about how you have no idea how many points you get for a strike, just that it’s a lot.
Enter, Peter Weber. Pete is the bad boy of 10-pin bowling. Hated and loved by all bowler heads for his raunchy and flamboyant attitude, Pete is uniquely identifiable. A Jackson-esque leather glove on his bowling hand and speed dealers tightly braided into his heavily receded hairline, Weber has won the bowling U.S Open a record five times and is the only person to have won each bowling national event at least twice.
Pete has been destined for greatness from 17. His father (Dick Weber, bowling legend and Spiderman’s porn name) used his bowling credentials to leverage the rules and allow his son to compete before the minimum age requirements. From there Pete won, well, everything. But winning everything comes with a cost. Pete spent most of the 80’s in a hazy combination of cocaine and spirits. Addiction to winning became addiction to everything, and the devilish thralls of success wrapped its mitts around him and cuddled him into being blackout drunk for weeks on end. Rehab, three marriages, and a mostly sober lifestyle since 1990 resulted in his brash behaviour coming out to play on the glossy wooden bowling lanes.
But here’s the thing with 10-pin bowling. To you, maybe it’s a first date location. For the Coen brothers, it’s a movie setting. But for those deep in the game, it’s a sport that gets no respect. Pete Weber is either a black eye on this American past-time or the brash tonic it so desperately needed. Whether it means yelling at a 9-year-old in the crowd, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I AM” or pointing at his crotch to celebrate defeating an old rival, Pete Weber has not compromised his iron grip on the bowling ball or the game.