By John Jowdy
Although bowling has experienced a gradual decline for the past 15 years, a bright future looms over the horizon. There is bad news and good news
First, let’s face the bad news.
Membership in the ABC/WIBC/ (and now the USBC) tapered off at an alarming rate.
Phony high scores made a mockery of the game. 300 games, 800 series and averages ranging from 220 to 250 became routine. 900 series were being recorded regularly. Worse though, the ABC sanctioned these scores by mere average bowlers, yet refused to accept a 900 series by Glenn Allison, a Hall of Fame bowler.
Sport Bowling and “honest conditions” were slow in attempting to lure supposedly elite bowlers who opted to post averages of 230 upward.
The Ladies Pro tour lost its TV package.
Popular tournaments such as the High Roller and the Eliminator experienced huge drop-offs in entries.
Steve Sanders, one of the game’s premier promoters, tarnished his reputation by defaulting on the guaranteed payoff of the Mini-Eliminator megabucks tournament. Furthermore. Mr. Sanders’ Generations Senior Tour was a total disaster and in jeopardy of total extinction.
With all due respect to Steve Sanders, he was simply a victim of the times. In addition to the decline in megabuck tournaments, entries in amateur tournaments like the NABI and ABT have sagged, as much as 50%.
Bowling centers have been closing at a disturbing rate…for several reasons. First, some centers became dilapidated and were unable to compete with modern bowling establishments. Second, and more important, property values have become so attractive, proprietors are practically forced to accept “offers they can’t refuse”.
That’s the bad news. Now let’s examine the GOOD news.
The dwindling membership has slowed down.
The USBC has done a remarkable job of addressing and attempting to harness outlandish high scores. The USBC Sport Bowling program enjoyed explosive growths across the board this past season, due principally to the remarkable popularity of PBA Experience leagues, which allow Sport members to compete on the same oil patterns as professional bowlers. The number of Sport bowling members rose 120 percent over the previous season. Sport Bowling leagues were up 134 percent while centers holding Sport events increased 155 percent. In PBA Experience leagues, bowlers compete on the same patterns used on the Denny’s Professional Bowlers Association…named Chameleon, Cheeta, Scorpion, Shark, and Viper offer bowlers a unique challenge and comply with USBC Sport bowling guidelines, which allow a maximum of three times as much oil on the inside boards versus the outside boards. This oil application typically is described as a 3:1 ratio.
Although the Ladies Pro Tour vanished, the PBA opened its doors to top female bowlers. In doing so, the PBA and bowling overall, gained national attention when Kelly Kulick succeeded in qualifying for the PBA Tour through the Tour Trials. Additionally, Liz Johnson became the first female to appear on the PBA TV show by gaining a spot on the tour through the Pro Tour Qualifier. Moreover, female performers like Liz Johnson, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Missy Bellinder made their marks on the PBA Regional tours. As of this date, Missy Bellinder has annexed TWO Regional titles.
Furthermore, all female bowlers were give an additional opportunity to appear on PBA television by qualifying through the 2007 Women’s US Open at Reno. Ladies had to pay an additional $750 to qualify for 16 spots. Surprisingly, 65 ladies paid this fee. The 16 qualifiers would then bowl each other in match play on TV on succeeding Sundays to determine the final four for the Women’s US Open Championship; on ESPN October 14th.
Although many bowling centers have closed, a majority of existing establishments have increased their incomes with glow and cosmic bowling, birthday parties, private parties, tournaments, and ever increasing open bowling. These innovations have made up for the lack of late league structure. Nevertheless, despite the closing of many bowling centers, they are being replaced by larger/modern establishments featuring state of the art equipment. In many cases, they are part of large sports complexes financed by wise investors.
Another promising aspect for bowling is the ever-increasing acceptance of bowling as a letter sport and a credit in high schools as well as colleges.
A recent USBC news release revealed that bowling is the fastest- growing high school sport of this decade, according to the newest National Federation of State High School Association participation survey.
Since the 2000-01 season, bowling participation has more than doubled and the number of schools participating has nearly tripled
These young men and women represent the future of bowling. With this in mind, bowling programs can only get better and better, particularly in view of the low cost to school budgets. Unlike football, where size and speed are an absolute must, or basketball, where anyone shorter than 6’2 is considered a midget, bowling participants are capable of competing against each other, regardless of size or gender. Consequently, bowling affords students who lack the size or talent for major athletics an opportunity to become involved with their high schools and lay the foundation for a lifetime sport. Additionally, this helps athletes earn scholarships to bowl in college.
In my humble opinion, the good news far outweighs the bad news Mistakes of the past are being addressed. As I see it, the new USBC personnel seem hell-bent on restoring the game to its creditable position in the sports world.
With this in mind, I vision a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for bowling!
by John Jowdy
Last month, I expressed my personal views of the effects, results, and future of the newly formed United States Bowling Congress. I was both critical and laudable and made every effort to be fair and impartial. As previously stated, the long-termed success of the USBC remains to be seen. Consequently, I shall withhold any further comments and, as the old adage goes, I’ll try to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative”.
Shortly following my analysis of the USBC, unprecedented sweeping changes developed in the USBC hierarchy. Roger Dalkin and Roseanne Kuehn submitted resignations from their lofty positions. A number of Board members, including former WIBC President Sylvia Broyles, resigned and several veteran employees were terminated. While these major shifts in USBC operations may have been coincidental, it seems to indicate the upper command of the USBC may have conceivably suggested these resignations and firings. This is nothing new in today’s business environment. It is referred to as “reorganization” and usually affects upper management and eventually filters down to the rank and file.
As a bowling writer, I must laud the USBC head honchos who were savvy enough to recognize the outstanding communications personnel at USBC headquarters. One of the most strategic moves by the USBC was the addition of Tom Clark, a former sports reporter for USA Today. Clark, who has an unbelievable passion for bowling, occupies the role of Chief Officer-Marketing /-Communications. Clark oversees the direction of USBC’s public relations, marketing, publishing, tournament media relations, sponsorship and electronic media, including bowl.com
Clark’s communications staff include Jerry Schneider, in charge of tournament events and Mark Miller, contact for Programs/Corporate Information. Bill Vint, is the latest addition to this talented team.
From a personal standpoint, Clark has done yeoman service in solidifying relations with the Bowling Writers Association of America. He has restored dignity to Hall of Fame ceremonies and added spice to press conference topics and issues. I believe his input on the televised Queens tournament produced one of the best bowling TV shows I have ever seen. I devoted an entire column on the interesting and informative innovations displayed in the televised event.
However, I cannot give Clark, or anyone involved in the recent Las Vegas Fashion Mall production, any high fives…not even a two-star rating. In my opinion, it was a fiasco, a joke, and represented more of a fashion show than a bowling event. I’m not sure who selected the participants for the event but the show was far short of bowling savvy and business acumen.
To begin with, it was far more costly than necessary. Bringing in foreigners from FAR AWAY Australia and South America did nothing to promote bowling in the USA. In my opinion, with the cessation of the Ladies Professional Bowling Tour, this supposedly extravaganza should have been reserved for American bowlers. Perhaps it was poetic justice that Australian superstar Cara Honeychurch carted off the bulk of the prize money. BUT worse that this, Wendy Mac Pherson, a native of Las Vegas, and one of America’s all time great bowlers, was absolutely snubbed. Wendy, selected as the Bowler of the Decade in the 90’s, is UNDOUBTEDLY one of, if not the best female bowler in the country.
Perhaps the promoters were more interested in promoting glamour. If this production was designed as a fashion show rather than a contest of elite bowling performers, and, if feminism was one of the principle requirements for selecting the field, Wendy should have been chosen. Wendy is a neatnik. Wendy is very presentable. Wendy not only has beautiful sparkling eyes; she is very easy on the eyes. Wendy may not possess the figure of super-model Elle Mc Pherson but Wendy Mac Pherson is far from an ugly duckling.
The other issue I previously had with Tom Clark was the format of the long-awaited Women’s US Open in Reno August 18th, that is, UNTIL I ATTENDED THE TOURNAMENT. Although the finals of the TV show will take place in Reno, eight weeks after the qualifying matches, it did not diminish the incredible show put on by the world’s foremost female bowlers….both professional and amateurs. I am fully aware that dragging out a TV presentation from August 18th to October 14th seemed a bit ridiculous. However, following the demise of the Pro Bowling Tour on ABC TV, the game has been forced to succcumb to the evils of the boob tube. For example, witness the plight of the current ESPN TV Pro Bowler’s Tour presentation, whereas, the show is slotted on Sundays against the country’s most popular televised sport, the National Football League.
Simply put, bowling is television’s stepchild; compelled to adhere to the network’s chosen time slots, despite the fact that bowling’s ratings are equal to, sometimes better than other supposedly elite sports.
Unfortunately, Clark’s rendition of the Women’s US Open has taken some big hits from a number of bowling writers, including publisher of Stars and Strikes, Jim Goodwin, Bowlers Journal editor Jim Dressel, and Matt Fiorito, super sports writer of the Detroit Free Press.
Prior to attending the Women’s US Open in Reno, I also had serious doubts concerning the delayed presentation of the Women’s US Open. However, after observing some of the greatest female bowlers I’ve ever seen, I was greatly impressed by the incredible talents displayed in qualifying rounds, particularly by Team USA amateur players Shannon O’Keefe, Linda Barnes, Amanda Burgoyne, Stefanie Nation, and Shannon Pluhowsky, all whom succeeded in reaching the top 16 finals.
Unfortunately, writers who failed to cover the tournament did not have the opportunity to appreciate my view of the tournament and, in particular, Tom Clark’s latest innovation… an elevated seating area for industry leaders and special guests. It was fraught with food and an open bar, located just left of the bowling lanes. It was classic. Sadly, other than officials of the USBC and BPAA, there was a glaring absence of industry leaders at the most prestigious women’s tournament in America.
Considering the significance the Women’s US Open, a number of bowling writers felt it could have emulated the PBA’s recent doubles event in St. Louis, whereas, the show was taped and scheduled for TV later on a series of succeeding weekends. Bowlers weren’t required to return week after week or even at later dates. The PBA arranged to tape all the shows at one location, then scheduled the television shows accordingly.
Nonetheless, the results were never disclosed to the public. Yet these same bowling writers were not nearly as critical of the PBA show as they were of the Women’s US Open. Perhaps some writers regarded the Reno tournament as a significant event. Yet ONLY four members of the Bowling Writers Association saw fit to attend this extravanganza….Dick Evans, Hazel McLeary, Joe Lyou, and myself.
Unfortunately, Reno is an extremely expensive trip for those who want to follow or cover the entire tournament. On the other hand, Reno houses the most prestigious bowling venue in the world and, despite the fact contestant’s expenses will be paid, it still places a financial burden on relatives, friends, fans, and writers who want to cover the televised finals in October.
Is Clark to blame? If so, he has been victimized like many other important bowling programs, including the Professional Bowling Association Tour. For far too long, bowling has been forced to cede to the inequities of televised sports.
Unfortunately, until bowling establishes itself as a genuine sport and an athletic endeavor requiring special skills and mental toughness, we must accept the only given options that will help promote our sport…regardless of the consequences.
by John Jowdy
This is a mystery to me…..
One of the great mysteries of the bowling industry is the oversight of our industry leaders to take advantage of the dedicated and grassroots members of our own community. A perfect example of this is the promotional genius and expertise of Joan Romeo. Joan has been involved with amateur and professional bowling for thirty years or so; beginning around the time her daughters Robin and Tori began their professional bowling careers. Anyone that knows her will agree that she is one of most tireless, diligent, and creative individuals in the sport. Many would agree with me when I say that she has been involved in as many, if not more, promotional projects than anyone in the game, primarily using her own personal means.
Joan originally hailed from New York. She is a current resident of Van Nuys, California. She is the mother of five children, including Robin, a 2005 California WBA Hall of Fame inductee, as well as a member of the WIBC Hall of Fame and Tori, also an accomplished bowler. Her oldest son Billy and her son-in-law Steve occupy prominent roles in the movie industry. Steve is married to Joan’s oldest child Debbie. Her youngest child, David leads a successful music combo, switching back and forth on several cruise lines all over the world.
Joan’s husband Ray passed away in 2000. In addition to being Robin’s greatest booster, he had a gregarious personality and was loved by everyone who knew him. Prior to settling in California, Ray was a driving school instructor in New York. In addition to this, he was an tremendous cook, having previously operated a catering service. He was involved in and vigorously supported his daughter’s bowling careers.
Joan currently operates her own marketing business, the “Marketing Team”. She is an “idea” person; an asset to any group….a classy, creative person who has the ability to organize details like no other. She has been instrumental in promoting Pro-Ams, working with and promoting Team USA through USA Bowling. She developed and produced, along with Jerry Koenig and Elaine Hagin, the first FIQ International Senior Open.
She is the ultimate promoter for any sponsor but, despite her involvement in a myriad of bowling promotions, Joan Romeo has never been offered a permanent and meaningful position in the bowling industry.
A good analogy of utilizing the talent within our sport and one of the most strategic moves made by the United States Bowling Congress was the hiring of Tom Clark, former sports columnist for USA Today. Clark’s ingenuity has done wonders for the USBC. (Clark will be featured in a future column) Joan Romeo is cut from the same mold.
At the recent Bowling Writers Association Columbia 300 Press Party and Awards banquet, I had the honor and pleasure of presenting Joan Romeo the Remo Picchietti Humanitarian Award. Not only was Mrs. Romeo deserving of this honor; it was long overdue.
One of Mrs. Romeo talents include event planning; from beginning to end; flawlessly takes care of every detail. This includes arrangement of economical hotel rates for bowlers, writers, and officials attending bowling events in the Reno area. She has close ties with several hotels, including Circus-Circus, Atlantis, and Peppermill.
Mrs. Romeo has over 30 years experience of advertising, production, public relations, event sponsorship and non-profit marketing with such agencies as the Pearlman Group, Jim Terry Productions, Centipede Films, and Grey Advertising. Her representative list includes the Ladies Touring Players Association, Women’s International Bowling Congress, Permanent Charities Committee of the Entertainment Industries, Federation Internationale Des Quilleurs, California Women’s Bowling Association, and USA Bowling.
The following testimonial was written by Mary Lynly, President of the California Bowling Writers:
“Joan Romeo continues to work for bowling and continually contributes her beneficial attributes to California bowlers. She is now a Director for the California Bowling Writers and sits on the advisory board of the BPAA Foundation. Joan always brings a professional touch to what she does. She allows us to touch and avail ourselves of influential people that would otherwise be difficult to connect with.
“Joan was instrumental in developing probably one of the most successful pro-am events ever held for the first Ladies Professional Bowling Tour at Imperial Bowl in Southern California. Through Jim Terry Productions, she was able to get many Hollywood celebrities and all the ball manufacturers to provide them ball, bag, and shoes. The pro shop donated the fitting and drilling.
As a volunteer, she scheduled, negotiated and promoted four LBPT Tournaments in California. All were televised – Inland Empire, San Fernando Valley, Santa Maria and San Diego. Joan was instrumental in Team USA nationally and in California and supported the state Team USA efforts through the procurement of sponsors and merchandise. During the last several years before the merger, she managed and marketed the National Team USA Finals. In 2004, in Las Vegas, she negotiated getting the Armed Forces involved which resulted in the largest Team USA National finals ever, bringing together 254 finalists from all over the world.”
“On May 21st, at the annual CWBA meeting, Joan Romeo was honored at the annual CWBA meeting as the 2006 CWBA Distinguished Service recipient.”
This testimonial, issued by California Bowling Writers President Mary Lynly, is an example of how respected she is in the bowling world.
My motivation for writing this column stems from the fact that I have watched Mrs. Romeo’s tireless efforts to promote and elevate the bowling game. At this juncture, it seems that someone, or some organization in the bowling industry, would take advantage of her talents and experience.
For me, this over-sight remains a mystery.
WOMEN’S U.S.OPEN/WOMEN’S PBA TOUR TRIALS
The Women’s U.S. Open, presented by the USBC, will be conducted at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno. The prestigious tournament, beginning August 12-18, will be taped for television on ESPN. The Women’s U.S. Open will coincide with the PBA Women’s Tour Trials, which will award 16 exemptions for the 2007-08 PBA Women’s series to be held in conjunction with the with the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
The Women’s U.S. Open is the property of the Bowling Proprietors of America. However, the BPAA has licensed it to the United States Bowling Congress for three years (for $1). Second, they will work with the USBC to have trials in various centers and states around the country. Nonetheless, the USBC will be in charge of rules and production.
To become eligible for one of the 16 exemptions, women will pay an additional $750 entry fee into the U.S. Women’s Open. The event features four days of qualifying, after which the field will be cut to the top 16 for match play, who will each be placed in one of four brackets. The four players in each bracket will appear on one of four-ESPN televised shows The four winners of those shows will then advance to the ESPN-televised championship round.
The top 16 women who have paid the additional Women’s Tour Trials fee will earn exemptions for the 2007-08 PBA Women’s Series. All 16 women must become PBA members prior to the start of the Denny’s PBA Tour season to be able to compete.
Those 16 women will then participate in four PBA Women’s Series events, which will be held in conjunction with four Denny’s PBA Tour events throughout the 2007-08 season. The championship match for all four PBA Women’s Series events will be televised as part of the ESPN telecasts for the four Denny’s PBA Tour events in which women’s
events will run concurrently.
All four events are scheduled to take place in the first half of the 2007-08 season. The winner of each event will earn $10,000, with all 16 participants earning a minimum of $1800 each week.
The U.S. Women’s Open starts will start with a practice session on Sunday, August 12, followed by four days of qualifying on a different PBA Experience oil pattern. The players will bowl eight games a day, with the top 16 after 32 games advancing to the bracket match play.
The winner of each event will earn $10,000 with all 16 participants earning a minimum of $1,800 each week.
The final 16 will be divided into four brackets, with the preliminary rounds being taped for later airing in November and December on ESPN. The final four bowlers will return to the National Bowling Stadium on Sunday, October 14 for the live ESPN televised championship round.
Although this does insure the return of a ladies professional bowling tour, it is a positive step in the right direction for America’s women bowlers. Additionally, it demonstrates the unity, harmony, and cooperation that currently exists between the principal forces of the game, namely: the bowling proprietors, (BPAA) the governing body (USBC), the Professional Bowler’s Association, and the bowling manufacturers.
I believe the Women’s U.S. Open tournament will draw a record, or near-record entry for several reasons. Practically all the bowling tournaments that have been conducted in Reno or Las Vegas, be they amateur or professional, usually attract record numbers.
Las Vegas, with its myriad of plush hotels, casinos, and entertainment, conceivably leads the nation in conventions. It DEFINITELY leads the nation in bowling tournaments, thanks to the plentitude of state-of-the-art bowling centers,
.On the other hand, Reno possesses the most renown, the most celebrated and the most distinguished bowling establishment in the world…The National Bowling Stadium; a one-of-a-kind colossus that is the envy of the bowling world. It features 80 state–of-the-art lanes with gigantic scoreboards and seating galore. It is located in the heart of the casino district and was erected principally for ABC and WIBC tournaments. It is not available for open bowling but books numerous national bowling events. The pro shop features a regular bowling lane, complete with every conceivable bowling /training vehicle. This pro shop probably stocks the largest display of bowling merchandise of any bowling establishment ANYWHERE.
The National Bowling Stadium has set record entries for both USBC men’s and women’s
bowling tournaments. Realizing the incredible drawing power of the bowling community, the city of Reno has a long-standing contract with the USBC. In addition to this, the three major hotels/casinos surrounding the National Bowling stadium, the Eldorado, the Silver Legacy, and the Circus-Circus hotel/casinos make generous contributions to tournament promoters who hold their events in the world-famous arena.
The National Bowling Stadium is undoubtedly the most preferable and desirable environment of all bowlers, here in America, as well as the rest of the bowling world.
Consequently, I wouldn’t venture to guess the number of ladies who would pay the added $750 to qualify for the Denny’s PBA Tour Trials being held in conjunction with the U.S.Open. However, one thing is sure; with 16 spots available for qualification, any woman who seeks to further her career bowling professionally will never have a better opportunity than in the 2007 Women’s U.S. Open.
The question is: what path will the most successful amateur female bowler on earth, Deandra Asbaty, follow?
At any rate, it wouldn’t surprise me if the 2007 Women’s U.S. Open set a new a record for American, as well as foreign entries.
By: John Jowdy
In a poll conducted by International Bowlers Journal, John Berglund, Executive Director of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, was chosen as the most influential individual in bowling.
Berglund’s choice was not surprising to me. I was among the select group to cast a vote. In my judgment, the choice of the personable BPAA honcho was a no-brainer.
Who is John Berglund ? How did they find him? And what has he brought to the BPAA?
John Berglund received a B.A., History from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., and his J.D., Law from the University of San Diego School of Law. He is married and has two children.
John F. Berglund serves as the Executive Director for the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, an association of over 3,200 bowling centers throughout the United States and internationally. Additionally, he serves as the President of Strike Ten Entertainment as well as Executive Director of the International Bowling Pro Shops and Instructors (IBPSIA) both headquartered in Arlington, Texas.
Prior to his present position, he had an extensive background in trade association management, including his role as Executive Director for the Minnesota Bowling Proprietors Association, which is affiliated with the BPAA.
Among many of his association-related honors and activities are the following:
· Award of Excellence for Education and Training—Minnesota Society of Association Executives
· Award of Excellence for Magazine/Journal—Minnesota Society of Association Executives
· Top Honors, Gold Circle Award, Most Improved Magazine—American Society of Association Executives
· Authored Article on “Trade Show Success”—American Management Magazine
· Seminar Presenter, “Developing an Effective Position Paper” –The ASAE Management Conference
This impressive resume’ is further enhanced by the incredible success he has had in uniting the principal integers of bowling; namely the manufacturers, the United States Bowling Congress, and the Professional Bowlers Association. Although some prophets of doom predict a gloomy outlook, the future of the game looks encouraging, simply due to the fact that Mr.Berglund has achieved what no other individual in bowling has ever accomplished. He is surely responsible for the compatibility, harmony, rapport and unity that currently exist among the major forces of the bowling industry; above all, UNITY that transcends into the fulfillment of one common goal … the promotion of bowling for the betterment of the game. More important, John Berglund has accomplished this feat in a mere span of five years!
Personally, I can attest to John Berglund’s communicable personality. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with John on several projects and have never met anyone in the upper echelon of any organization who was so congenial and cooperative.
One of the most brilliant coups Mr. Berglund engineered was taking on board the International Bowling Pro Shops Instructional Association. (IBPSIA) This group, with a membership of 500 or so, was organized to provide education, communication, and recognition for bowling pro shop professionals and instructors. They provide a foundation for the advancement of the worldwide bowling industry. IBPSIA has become one of the most important participants in Bowl Expo…. and Bowl Expo has absolutely mushroomed under Berglund’s supervision.
Another feather to his cap is that he persuaded the Bowling Writers Association of America to hold their convention in conjunction with Bowl Expo. For over 50 years, the BWAA held their convention in conjunction with the ABC convention. The BWAA membership felt it was time for a change. Seizing the opportunity, Berglund made the BWAA an offer they couldn’t refuse. The BWAA membership voted to accept Mr. Berglund’s proposal and, as expected, both parties benefited from the agreement, particularly the BPAA. How better could the BPAA publicize Bowl Expo than having over 50 bowling writers in attendance?
In the political arena, because of his unique ability to interact with allies and foes alike, Ronald Reagan established a legacy as “The Great Communicator”
In the bowling world, John Bergland is well on his way to establishing his own reputation as the “Great Communicator”!
In my opinion, the recent ESPN presentation of the 2007 USBC Queens television show was one of the best bowling shows ever. The production crew is deserving of an ESPY award. They more than made up for the so-so production of the Ladies Challenge in Las Vegas.
From a personal standpoint, it wasn’t the most exciting or breathtaking bowling event I’ve ever witnessed. However, the timing and format were innovative and stimulating. The scoring and the end result were not dramatic; nor were they really surprising. The event hardly resembled some of the PBA’s most drama-filled shows, particularly the Dick Ritger-Don Johnson finals of the Firestone Tournament of Champions at Akron April 4, 1970. Johnson defeated Ritger, 299-268 in a match that had to be one of, if not the greatest bowling shows ever on TV. As a matter of fact, the camera shot of Johnson lying face down (after a 10-pin leave that prevented the Kokomo Kid from fashioning a perfect score) is one of the most acclaimed photographs in bowling history.
The score and end result of the 2007 USBC Queens Tournament ran as one might expect. With all due respect to steller performances by the sharp-looking talented gals that made up the cast, Kelly Kulick had to be the odds-on favorite. After all, the mere fact she qualified for exemption on the men’s PBA regular tour proved, beyond all doubt, her role as favorite over the other finalists in the Queen’s tournament. Her bowling savvy was evident in her match against, arguably the greatest amateur female bowler in the world, Deandra Asbaty. Asbaty could not overcome Kulick’s experience in this prestigious event.
Nonetheless, Asbaty displayed her superiority in amateur ranks talent a few weeks later when she won the World Ranking Masters at the Kegel Company Training Facilities in Florida. The WRM tournament featured the world’s best female players and further established Asbaty as the best amateur woman bowler on the planet.
The ESPN production was superb. The telecast duo of Marshall Holman and Jan Schmidt was enlightening. Holman’s analysis was purely professional…insightful and low-keyed, ala ESPN’s baseball analyst, Joe Morgan. The timing was near perfect. The cast, featuring FIVE bowlers in a 90-minute show, never missed a beat. Normally, in most five-player TV bowling shows, participants are subjected to bowling through commercials to conserve time. Furthermore, personal features and interviews consume much of the bowling activities and tend to hasten bowlers in closing frames. BUT, this was not the case in the 2007 Queens championships. As a matter of fact, TV fans were treated to one of the greatest innovations I have ever seen on any televised bowling show. In addition to displaying each player’s choice of equipment, each bowler explained in detail the expected reaction of the selected ball. Not only were these insights interesting and informative to the viewing audience; it was a long overdue acknowledgement and appreciation to manufacturers who pay HUGE sums of money to register their products.
I’m not sure who deserves credit for the stimulating innovations and fast-paced presentation of the 2007 USBC Queens Tournament. However, if I had to guess, I suspect that Tom Clark, USBC Director of Communications, played a major role in the thought-provoking format.
Chances are, we will witness more of these interesting renovations at the Women’s U.S. Open at the National Bowling Stadium August 12-18.
Bowling….Life after death
By: John Jowdy
Up until two years ago, the only news regarding the bowling industry had been of the “Gloom and Doom” variety.
League membership continued to tumble; bowling ball sales began to dwindle; the Ladies Pro Tour collapsed; entries for megabucks tournaments were at an all-time low; the PBA was struggling to keep afloat; and bowling centers were closing at an alarming rate.
BUT, for the past two years, the bowling industry has taken a miraculous turn for the better and the future looks much brighter. What happened to reverse this trend?
Perhaps the unification of all integers of the bowling industry has begun to bear fruit.
Although the United States Bowling Congress has not fully succeeded in unifying all local associations into their organization, the overall cooperation of the USBC with the Bowling Proprietors Association of America and the Professional Bowlers Association has began to indicate an upsurge in the game’s future.
While membership figures are lower than in the past, perhaps the figures released by the USBC are greatly misleading. For instance, over one million seniors bowl in unsanctioned leagues. These bowlers play a major role in the success of bowling establishments. Also, we must presume that perhaps an additional million bowlers participate in leagues that are not included in USBC membership rolls.
Although some bowling establishments continue to relinquish their prime properties to “Offers they can’t refuse”, more and more bowling centers are being erected to replace
them with state of the art facilities that feature the latest innovations in equipment. In
addition to this, the new 40 to 60 lane centers include other enticing means of
entertainment, including theaters, game rooms, miniature golf, and great food facilities.
Despite the fact that USBC membership figures aren’t overwhelming, bowling
proprietors around the country have increased their overall income by open bowling, glow bowling, and private parties. For example, Mike Monyak, general manager for Coast Casinos in Las Vegas, (which include the Orleans, the Gold Coast, and Sunset bowling centers,) estimates that league bowling comprises about 22 percent of his total business. Birthday parties, business parties, and tournaments more than compensate for smaller league play. Even more surprising, Monyak’s centers average around 40 lines per bed, a staggering figure when compared to the coveted 35 lines per bed during the game’s booming era. .
Although I am not privy to other bowling establishment figures, these numbers seem to portray the overall picture in Las Vegas, undoubtedly the bowling capital of the world. For example, Frenchy Letourneau, editor/publisher of the Ten Pin Alley publication in Las Vegas, accepted a position at Santa Fe Lanes as Promotions Director about two years ago. In a recent conversation, Frenchy informed me he has conducted over 1500 parties during this period. Furthermore, he envisions no slowdown in the future for these activities and, although Santa Fe Lanes may be the leader in the “party” category, most other bowling centers in Sin City are profiting from their share of open bowling, glow bowling, and party bowling.
Currently, the most negative comments relative to any sport today are the numerous choices of recreational activity available to the public. Bowling must compete with movies, television, golf, tennis, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and other forms of entertainment. Yet, with all these pastimes readily available in Las Vegas, bowling has more than held its own in a city that features the largest and most modern bowling facilities on the planet. Las Vegas investors continue to build more bowling centers, and, to date, no one has issued warnings of “over-building”.
Fortunately, while the rest of the country’s bowling atmosphere isn’t quite as appealing as Las Vegas, the future of the game, under the combined efforts of the USBC, the BPAA, and the PBA, seems to be headed in the proper direction.