It seems that lately whenever there is a discussion about the “state of bowling” everyone has an opinion. I hear a lot about it because I bowl leagues, have written a bowling column for 25 years for a daily newspaper, and write for some bowling newspapers. I guess that makes me a sounding board for both the good and bad about my sport.
I am not complaining. I enjoy the give and take of a good discussion and there are good and bad things about bowling that not only require discussion, but probably require action by the integers.
A topic I hear the most is that bowling membership is declining at a rapid pace. Why? And, how can we fix it?
Well, times have changed. It’s not the 1950s anymore and many younger people have a multitude of outlets to occupy their time. I have written about the leagues in the ’50s that my dad belonged to that were made of lodge members, VFW, American Legion, Moose, Lions and various other fraternal organizations. I have not seen that type of involvement for many years now.
Let me try to address a few of the topics that tend to give you gas, understanding I don’t speak for any bowling association other than my own.
I think the decline in league bowling can be partially blamed on the economy. People are not bowling as often as they used to and tend to pick leagues that fit their schedule and pocketbook best. Also, they have other interests, like golf, fishing and, of course, football. High school football in Texas, as you all know, is a BIG deal,
If I had an answer for why our tournaments are declining, I’d fix it. However, I blame a lot of it on the bowlers themselves and the apathy shown come tournament time. They say, “I’ll bowl, but I don’t want to do the paperwork.”
If we didn’t have bowlers that do all the administrative work, we would see even a bigger decline. We need to advertise the tournaments far enough in advance, announce them on league night and get the association more involved. Additional prize money has never worked for our association.
The PBA and sponsors … you have to ask them. I don’t think bowling will ever attract sponsors like golf and tennis have. Cadillac, Mercedes, Buick and high-dollar watches don’t relate to bowling. I think the PBA does a good job in getting sponsors, but I would like to see better prize money. That’s my opinion.
The USBC has really caused a lot of bowlers a lot of “gas.” Many still gripe about the merger of the ABC and WIBC, and I can’t say I blame them. In our area, with the exception of the men’s travel league, there are no men’s leagues. We have only mixed leagues. The USBC doesn’t see it that way, but let’s call them what they are — mixed.
What used to be a men’s only tournament is now the mixed Open. Women can bowl in the USBC Open, but the men can’t bowl in their tournament. Semantics, the Open tournament is open to anyone; the women’s tournament is only for women because their title is USBC Women’s Tournament.
Now, my perspective of the PBA Tour: I believe I have watched or recorded every PBA event that has been televised, including such shows as “Bowling for Dollars,” and I can’t help but wonder what keeps them going. It certainly isn’t the money.
Danica Patrick, in 2013, has earned $2.3 million for 10 races. Her average start was 31st and her average finish is 25th and she’s 30th in the Sprint Cup standings.
Brandt Snedeker, in 2013 on the PGA Tour, has won $4 million. That’s pocket change for Tiger Woods, who has amassed $7.6 million so far in 2013.
J.B. Holmes is 80th on the PGA Tour stats with 2013 earnings of $1.1 million.
Walter Ray Williams Jr., the winningest professional bowler in the history of the sport, has earned $4.2 million in a career spanning 33 years.
I know that bowling is a difficult sport for the professional. The injuries developed over just one tournament could end their career or at least shorten it. The prize money, as one PBA regional player called it, “is chump change.”
The lack of respect for the sport is shameful. Don’t judge it by your one night out of recreational fun, I’m sure the PBA would find a spot for you to bowl all their events, then come back and tell me how easy it was and inexpensive.
Well, that’s my take on friendly discussions at my favorite centers.
The Southwest PBA Region was in Greenville this past weekend for the Greenville Open.
Local PBA member Josh Maxson made the trip and finished 13th in a field of 66 bowlers. Maxson, who recently joined the PBA after cashing in two events, had a little difficulty with the Viper pattern.
Mike Scroggins won the Greenville Open and continues to dominate the Southwest Region.
The Southwest Region will compete next in Shawnee, Okla., for the Region Players Invitational. Competition will run from Sept. 6-8.
See you on the lanes.
Don Wright has been sharing insights on area/national bowling with Herald readers for more than 25 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org