West Virginia Irish Road Bowling


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Health & Fitness

The West Virginia Irish Road Bowling Association, Inc. (WVIRBA) is an all-volunteer 501 c 3 nonprofit tax exempt since 2008, located in Ireland, West Virginia. Its Mission Statement was adopted in the Winter Meeting, January 2005. In part,

To celebrate nature and the scenic beauty of the
country roads of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia 


To teach Irish road bowling to men, women, and children
as a sport providing health and physical fitness

From the first match in 1995 in Ireland, West Virginia, we have grown. In 2012, the WVIRBA sponsored 19 days of Irish road bowling events free and open to the public. The public was welcomed as spectators to the West Virginia State Championships and the North American Region Finals (national tournament), both also free to everyone. Our road bowling events, at first in north central West Virginia, now are in every region of West Virginia. Anyone living anywhere in the Mountain State can get to a WVIRBA road bowling event in one hour or less.

2012 West Virginia Irish Road Bowling Association
Tour Events Participation



Irish Spring Festival



Irish Spring Festival



Coopers Rock State Forest



Pipestem Resort State Forest



Pipestem Resort State Forest



Kanawha State Forest



Strawberry Festival



Strawberry Festival



Blackwater Falls State Park



Canaan Valley State Park



WV State Championship at Coopers Rock State Forest



WV State Championship at Coopers Rock State Forest



Cacapon Resort State Park



Doddridge County Fair



Barbour County Fair



Wheeling AOH Ohio Valley Championship



Shepherdstown Pack Horse Ford Cannonball Run



Mountain State Forest Festival



Preston County Buckwheat Festival



Holly River State Park



Chief Logan State Park (in 2011)



Stonewall Resort (in 2011)


In our sporting age of pay-per view and astronomical wages, there is something pure
about road bowling, in
which the crowd is as much a feature as the players, where competition
takes place on public roads, with no
entrance fees, just the close involvement of a
celebrating the skills of a chosen
few of their own. That it takes place in gorgeous countryside and gives the followers who traipse the length of the course almost as good a workout as the competitors is a lovely bonus.

–Paul Lay, London Journalist



Other Events in West Virginia



Wounded Warriors Veterans of Foreign Wars Benefit, Salem



Philippi Blue & Gray Reunion Kids Day       (Bob Wilkins demonstration: students learning to throw)


Ronceverte River Festival



Charleston Catholic High School Field Day(students & teachers—Stephen Wallington)


Union Farm Heritage Day (community event)



Fort New Salem benefit


TOTAL in West Virginia in 2012 =

Take Me Home, Down Country Roads! We’ve got roads, some of the most beautiful in America, or in the world. We play this ancient sport
in nine state parks or state forests, in parks preserved for their Appalachian mountain beauty.



Getting Children Outdoors

Our grandparents and great grandparents lived a more rural lifestyle and often walked on country roads, sometimes for miles to find a baseball field, play a few games and have a Sunday picnic. My uncles used to do that from Green Hill in Ireland, WV, to the baseball field and swimming hole at Falls Mills, and back. Five miles each way, plus the baseball games. That is active living!

Today, digital technology challenges us to reassert our human values.



Outdoor Games vs. Video Games:
Nature-Based Recreation

In front of a computer screen, we have engineered physical activity out of our lives.

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
—A 4th grader in San Diego,
from Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv


U.S. kids ages 8 to 18 are using their phones, computers, TVs, and video game systems for 7.5 hours a day or 52.5 hours a week. Rideout V, Roberts DF and Foehr UG. Executive Summary: Generation M: Media in the lives of 8- 18-year-olds. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005.

TV viewing: Americans spend an average of 4 hours 49 minutes per day in 2008–2009, up 20% from 1998–1999. The average household watched 8 hours 21 minutes per day, an all-time high.
The Nielsen Company. 


“The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary indoor ‘videophilia’ has far reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children. Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders, and poor academic performance.” Coincident with the rapid growth in video games in the 1980s and 1990s, less time outdoors means less contact with nature, less interest in conservation, parks, camping, fishing, and per capita park visits are declining. Fishing declined 25% from 1981 to 2005. Hiking the AppalachianTrail was down 18% from 2000 to 2005.

Oliver R.W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2008.



Every hour spent watching TV, DVDs and videos as an adult reduces life expectancy by almost 22 minutes, an Australian study suggests. And viewing TV for an average of six hours a day can cut short your life by five years. The academics conducting the study set out to calculate the overall risk to life expectancy from watching television. The research involved more than 11,000 people over the age of 25, and used information from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, together with population and death rate data.

University of Queensland, British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Medical Crisis: Childhood Fitness

Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) height and weight of 30% or more. Body Mass Index is defined as the individual's body mass divided by the square of his or her height. Since the 1800’s, BMI is considered to be the best proxy for body fat percentage among ratios of weight and height.

From 1980 to 2008, obesity rates doubled in adults, and tripled for children. 17% of all American children are now obese. For the first time in memory, “today’s children are likely to be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.”

F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America,
Trust for America’s Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued annually.


Fewer than 10% of public schools have daily physical education.

More than 33% of students in grades 9 - 12 do not participate in “vigorous physical activity.”

National Association of Sports and Physical Education, American Heart Association, 2006 report, Shape of the Nation.


Being overweight at a young age is far more destructive than adding excess weight later in life. Heaviness in adolescence “may produce permanent changes in the body” including early buildup of plaque in arteries to the heart that that increase the risk of heart disease for the rest of an individual’s life.

 This study is the first to carefully document the risk and to show that the danger is independent of adult weight. “For cardiovascular disease, you are going to pay the price for a higher weight in those early years later in life, even if you adopt a better lifestyle and are not overweight when you get older.”

Amir Tirosh, Harvard School of Public Health in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Only 13% of high school students eat at least three servings of vegetables per day.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007 data.


There are about 28,000 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide; “one fast food hamburger contains meat from dozens or hundreds of different cattle.”

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser


More than 25% of all Americans 17-24 are unqualified for military service because of weight.

Social networks play a surprisingly powerful role in determining an individual's chances of gaining weight. 12,000 people were tracked over 32 years. Obesity really spreads from person to person, especially friends, like an epidemic - a social contagion. "What spreads is an idea," like a fad, spreading the risk from friend to friend, and it spreads like wildfire.

The study also showed that people close to someone who lost weight were more likely to get thinner. "These same social networks might be used to turn a disease like obesity around."

Nicholas A. Christakis, Harvard Medical School, in the New England Journal of Medicine, and James H. Fowler, University of California at San Diego.


This is not just a West Virginia problem, this is a USA problem. Colorado, with the lowest obesity rate of 19.8 percent in 2008, would have had the highest rate in the nation in 1995.

Trust for America’s Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



             Contacts and resources West Virginia            

West Virginia on the Move


Live Well West Virginia (Summer Steps)


WV Office for Healthy Lifestyles


WV Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Camp New You


WV Master Gardeners


Jamie Oliver


                                                            Contacts and resources USA                                                         

U.S. Department of Agriculture My Pyramid for Kids


White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, study President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition

www.fitness.gov; www.presidentschallenge.org

www.letsmove.gov; www.smallsteps.gov

Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

www.BAM.gov; www.cdc.gov/leanworks (businesses)

National Physical Activity Plan


Harvard Medical School Health Letter

UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

Tufts University Children in Balance


Cleveland Clinic Fit Youth Program



Phys Ed curriculum


Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation (videos for teenagers)

Campaign to End Obesity


Irish Road Bowling is a part of the healthy lifestyle solution in West Virginia. In 2012 we put 2028 people walking, running, laughing down country roads just like their grandparents used to do. We can go back again. Developing this sport is a grass roots initiative, from West Virginia to the rest of the country, an inexpensive rural family sport, developed on our country roads. Few sports, if any, combine moderate exercise, just walking, with such high excitement—shots rolling 200, 250, even 300 yards on a narrow country road. It’s amazing.




To donate to the West Virginia Irish Road Bowling Association, see www.wvirba.org.