An open letter to Connor Ingalls regarding the image of pinball and its players

Mr. Ingalls:

I happened upon your story regarding the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum as it was shared to one of the many pinball groups on Facebook which I follow. In general, I think it’s great that you are willing to cover pinball and help keep the game alive. Many people have assumed since it is difficult to find a pinball machine unless you know where to look that the game is dead, and that’s emphatically not the case, whether one is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (as you are); Houston, Texas (as I am); or many other cities across the US or even around the world.

It’s also a good thing that you shine a spotlight on an antiquated and unenforced law prohibiting minors from playing pinball, in hopes of finally getting it off the books.

However, I do have a quibble with this particular wording in the story:

We informed [a 13-year-old pinball player at the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum] of the ban, and asked if he would continue playing…it should come as no surprise, the type of kid who plays pinball, isn’t concerned with playing by the rules.

This, too, is antiquated and reinforces a stereotype about pinball players that, if allowed to continue, is going to hinder growing the game and the hobby for the new generation. I run the Bayou City Pinball League in the greater Houston, Texas, area and one of the founding principles of the league is that it is for law-abiding citizens of good character, and the goal I envision is to have a crime-free league one can be proud to be a part of with a clear “no gambling” policy. In addition to that, I endeavor for the league I am founding to be a visible representation of the good people in the pinball community via periodic volunteer initiatives (in the broader community, as opposed to simply volunteering at pinball shows and tournaments). I know of no other pinball league which has even tried to label itself “crime-free” or aim for such lofty goals; the other and more populated pinball league in the area, which I used to play in, most definitely does not at least based on what I have able to observe.

Simply put, I feel “the type of kid who plays pinball” should not be presumed any more of a rulebreaker than the type of kid who plays chess, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc despite past stereotypes which would state otherwise. Like the outdated law you mention in your story, these stereotypes should also go the way of the dodo sooner rather than later.

[also sent via email]