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Thread: Whats the future for the sport of bowling?

  1. #1

    Default Whats the future for the sport of bowling?

    Is the Industry going to continue a downward spiral? Is it prepared to merge with the new technologies that may spur innovation? What will it take to attract new bowlers? Will the purest among us pushback changes contemplated for the future? What suggestions do you have for the industry?

  2. #2
    Bowling God Aslan's Avatar
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    Primarily; the USBC needs to take control of things a little more and reign in the BPAA.

    1) The USBC needs to standardize oil patterns.
    The USBC has the Red, White, and Blue patterns and needs to mandate that one of those 3 patterns be used during sanctioned league play and that the pattern be laid fresh, undisturbed, prior to each league starting.
    The USBC can then make changes in these patterns as the sport evolves, as need be.

    2) USBC inspection changes
    The USBC still needs to do a full inspection of new centers or new lanes...but it should change it's focus to inspect oil patterns. It's a quicker, less labor intensive inspection process....it should be done unannounced before league play...and centers that pass the tests should be rewarded with a less frequent/likely test schedule while those that fail the test should be penalized with minor fines and potentially more inspections.

    3) USBC equipment specification changes
    The USBC hasn't kept up to speed with equipment development...using the same specifications now that they used a decade or two ago. Given that balls are becoming too powerful and leading to increased scores...it's time to start reigning them in. One possibility would be to lower the maximum differential from 0.060 to 0.054. Essentially, specifications need to change to make ball motion more a factor of bowler skill and less a factor of ball technology.

    The USBC should increase pin weight a small amount and conisider increasing it in small increments over time until scores are reigned in.

    4) The USBC should mandate that centers have a minimum number of sanctioned leagues and at least offer one sanctioned youth league for every 2-5 sanctioned adult leagues. They don't even have to "mandate" it, per se. They could simply set up a USBC certification fee schedule that lowers the fee for centers that have more sanctioned bowlers and more sanctioned youth leagues/programs.

    5) The USBC should restructure the USBC Open so that USBC Open bowlers are restricted to sanctioned league winners. Each sanctioned league can send their top team and their top 6 bowlers (by average). This would make leagues "count" for something and would encourage league participation. The USBC should then work with the PBA to allow the top USBC Open performers a chance to compete in a "hybrid event" where they bowl in an event (like the WSOB) against the professionals.

    6) The USBC should look into "divisions" for their sanctioned leagues.
    Bowlers with book averages in the 175-240 range should be restricted to higher level leagues and those with lower averages should be open to join any league they wish. The USBC could then mandate tougher patterns for 175-240 average leagues...and easier patterns for the lower level leagues. Players wishing to bowl together still could...but the lower average bowlers would have to bowl on harder conditions...not the other way around.

    7) The "PBA League" should abandon it's current format and instead allow one team per brand of bowling balls. It also should revise it's rulebook to prohibit bowlers from using bowling balls that aren't branded by their sponsor. Columbia bowlers MUST use Columbia balls...NOT all EBI balls. Same for Brunswick and Storm. As bowlers are restricted to one brand...it will stimulate brand loyalty. It also would stimulate interest in the PBA League...which is now nothing more than a gimick. The league should also reach out to lesser brands like Pyramid, Lane #1, Lane Masters, etc...to give those companies more of a chance at competing and growing their brands.

    The PBA should also use this "brand versus brand" by tracking and publishing stats. For example;
    - Which brand has the highest average?
    - Which brand has the most 300-games?
    - Which brand has the most PBA titles?

    As more of a spotlight is shined on these "statistics"....it makes the PBA even more competitive. Brands will be more likely to offer larger contracts for talent....because the performance of the bowler can more make/break the statistics that help sell their products. And ball manufacturers that TRULY make better equipment....that ACTUALLY performs better....will be rewarded with increased sales.

    Some changes can't be undone. We have resin balls....we now need to reign them in...not get rid of them....which would be all but impossible. We have two-handed bowling...it's stimulated some youth and international interest...it would be nearly impossible to outlaw at this point. BUT...the USBC can make slight changes to bowling ball specifications and lane conditions....to minimize the advantages and reign in scores and re-legitimize the sport.

    As for "backlash" by traditional bowlers....you're already seeing it. For every new "gimick" that the PBA and USBC comes up with...they are gaining a new bowler and losing two traditional bowlers. "Fun Leagues", "Glow Bowling", Non-Sanctioned leagues, Two-Handed bowling, New World scoring systems, insanely strong equipment, etc.......all of these have failed to grow the sport....the sport continues to decline. The only reasonable explanation is that these new initiatives drive more bowlers away than attract to it.
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  3. #3

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    Calling bowling a sport in the league level? I think that's the problem - it's just a game blue collar ppl play. The Overweight, chicken wing, pizza eating fat Joe can average 225 in two houses with two different THS patterns. He doesn't need practice. And when he's in a slump, just buy a new ball.

    Or guys nowadays can average over 200 in less than two or three season. There's a bowler, wrong foot slider newbie averaging 205. And no, he doesn't repeat the same shot/release/line at all. HAHA calling bowling a sport in the league level is a joke. It's a game ppl play to have fun and enjoy with friends, bring the baby crib and let the kids run around. More than half of the countries bowlers don't even go practice. Real sports take dedication, real effort, real coaching, a lot of practice, physical fitness, and strong mental game. I'm not even trying hard and I'm a 225 house hack.
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  4. #4
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    I'm just going to piggy back off of Aslan's post, makes it a little easier to structure and compare:

    (1) Agree that there needs to be some degree of consistency in oil patterns. Not looking for a low ratio situation across the board and not necessarily looking to restrict patterns down to 3 selections, but there needs to be some degree of control in place so that from house to house you can see a degree of competitiveness (the downside of using only Red/White/Blue is that it may get stale, although this is an improvement over what is currently happening.

    (2) I'm not very close to the inspection process so I'm not really in a position to comment about it. That being said, if there was a really quick and easy process to verify the lane condition thought above that would be fine. Understandably, the better the testing the more expensive it will be (raising sanction fees).

    (3) As long as the equipment requirement doesn't hinder the ability of the bowling companies to continue to innovate this is fine. We must remember who some of the biggest sponsors are and how squeezing some of these parties could affect the bowling community indirectly.

    (4) The difficulty with this is that league attendance isn't solely a product of the environment, but also alternatives offered through the region. This could also lead a house to creating a lot of small leagues to maintain numbers rather than offering a smaller number of quality options. In regards to the ratio of junior to adult leagues this can also be dangerous because of the competition for that child's time...school activities, other sports, homework, church obligations...this can go on and on. I completely agree that a greater focus needs to be made towards juniors, but simply requiring to have leagues doesn't solve that. Houses need to get out in the public and promote these opportunities. My case on this is that during college I worked at an after school program and was a bowling coach on Saturdays; for four years I offered to take any materials to these school locations - essentially every Elementary school in the Tempe, AZ area - and this offer was never taken up.

    (5) This is the idea I hate the most. Essentially you are going to make it so many bowlers don't go to the most competitive leagues but rather any league so that they can get into the event. If you wanted you could create a separate event, but to restrict the entry (in which you are going to qualify a ton of people who do not want to go) would kill the open. I have been in leagues that included Josh Blanchard, Brett Wolfe (2003 ABC Masters Champion), Andrew Cain, Michael Haugen, and Jakob Buttruff in the same league with multiples on the same team - no qualifying there. That leaves the only opportunity to qualify as a 32-team, 5 man men's league if you wanted to bowl those two leagues. That being said a majority of the bowlers in the first league (which happened to be a league that only played on past nationals patterns) bowl nationals - and you are basically eliminating all of theme with this idea.

    (6) This is fine since the allowance of letting people move up was added. You won't have a ton of lower level leagues, but this could be good to remove the intimidation of a 115 bowler going up against a team of 220s.

    (7) Personally, I don't care too much for the PBA league format, especially the final where the first three events don't really matter that much. They need to keep it up for the sake of the venue (it does create a much better watching experience). That being said, trying a new team format based on equipment is worth a shot.
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  5. #5

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    Dang. This is the kind of thought out and well reasoned response I was hoping for. You make excellent points all the way around. It will be interesting to see the feedback to your commentary. I can only add to the discussion of what you refer to as 'gimmicks' is what I am undertaking and might be considered in that category. But since the USBC sanctioned it, the school is still out regarding its status. I think new ideas given an opportunity to be judged by the bowling community in the whole then the short term and long term effects will be determined by them. My efforts, though no longer able to bowl myself, span thirty years. I cannot impact the technical aspect of bowling, the industry is doing that, but I hoped to impact the process side, the technology merging with the sport. Opportunities to the bowler to be involved during the League season, after they have determined they are out of the running for prize awards should, in my opinion, provide incentive to continue in the league with hope of reward beyond just the fun of the game. At any rate, we should not give up on trying new things. We may have to bend a little to introduce new ideas, but why not give them a shot. They just may work and there are millions of League bowlers ready to pass judgment with their pocket book. Thanks for your insight. You did yourself proud.

  6. #6
    Bowling God Aslan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ALazySavage View Post
    (1)...(the downside of using only Red/White/Blue is that it may get stale, although this is an improvement over what is currently happening.
    The biggest advantage of this idea is that the USBC can change their patterns at any time. Next year they could make the USBC Red = a THS, the USBC White the USBC Blue, and the USBC Blue the PBA Shark. It allows the USBC to change the patterns as the game evolves.

    Quote Originally Posted by ALazySavage View Post
    (2) I'm not very close to the inspection process so I'm not really in a position to comment about it. That being said, if there was a really quick and easy process to verify the lane condition thought above that would be fine. Understandably, the better the testing the more expensive it will be (raising sanction fees).
    It's a very easy process that involves putting a piece of tape down and running it through a machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by ALazySavage View Post
    (3) As long as the equipment requirement doesn't hinder the ability of the bowling companies to continue to innovate this is fine. We must remember who some of the biggest sponsors are and how squeezing some of these parties could affect the bowling community indirectly.
    It will hinder them...but they have far too much power now...and it's hurting the game. The ball companies have to ask themselves if they'd like to continue to innovate to a declining customer base....or innovate less to a growing customer base.

    Quote Originally Posted by ALazySavage View Post
    (4) This could also lead a house to creating a lot of small leagues to maintain numbers rather than offering a smaller number of quality options....
    What I'm thinking here is....there are like 7 centers around me currently. Three of them offer 10+ sanctioned leagues. One of them offers 5-7 sanctioned leagues. The other three offer less than 5 sanctioned leagues. Yet, the ones that offer < 5 sanctioned leagues....offer a great many non-sanctioned leagues. I believe the USBC should award centers that offer the most sanctioned leagues versus non-sanctioned gimmick leagues. Each center doesn't need to offer more or less than they do now...they just need to be encouraged to sanction their league play and increase USBC membership.

    Quote Originally Posted by ALazySavage View Post
    (5) This is the idea I hate the most. Essentially you are going to make it so many bowlers don't go to the most competitive leagues but rather any league so that they can get into the event.
    I guess the point of the idea is to make leagues MEAN something. Right now...in this area...there are maybe 24 competitive leagues and 25 non-competitive leagues. The most competitive 2-6 leagues...have waiting lists to get into. Of the other leagues...they struggle to recruit bowlers. Why? My thought....because what's the point? If you're a competitive bowler...and you go to some Mickey Mouse league...where you average 225 but the rest of your team averages 125, 158, and 99...what's the point? Winning those leagues...is just a crap shoot.

    And what does 1st place get you? $250? What does 2nd place get you? Usually, $0. You're either getting a small amount for 1st place or a towel for last place....so people don't really care.

    But, what if the first place team had a chance to go to the USBC Open? Maybe those competitive teams would spread around a bit...maximize their chances.

    And if the top team doesn't want to go...it falls to the 2nd team, 3rd team, etc... Same with the top 6 bowlers. You might be the 23rd best bowler and be the 6th qualifier. And maybe the league covers some of the costs as part of the prize payout....going to the Open ain't cheap.

    Quote Originally Posted by YankeeBastid View Post
    I can only add to the discussion of what you refer to as 'gimmicks' is what I am undertaking and might be considered in that category.
    No.

    A prefect example of a "gimmick" is the World Tour Scoring model that came out 2 years ago. Essentially a "gimmick" because people nowadays have the attention span of a fruit fly...and can't figure out how the game of bowling is scored. So, the sport tries a scoring model that essentially completely changes the game and eliminates the need to be a quality spare shooter....gimmick.

    I'll never understand how a person can sit down for 8 hours and watch golf on TV without getting bored....yet watching a stepladder finals is too boring????

    I mean, sure...I sometimes get a little bored when I sit down and watch an entire PWBA or PBA50 tournament on XTraFrame....but I watch Qualifying through the finals...thats like 40 hours of bowling.
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    Is bowling really in a downward spiral?

    I don't have current stats, but just a few years ago, proprietors were claiming a record number of games bowled for the year. Two of my leagues gained teams last season. We had over 60 kids in the youth league last season and 75 bowling this summer.

    Yes, many bowling centers have closed in the last 30 years. I suspect that most of those that closed before 2008 did so not because they weren't making a profit, but because the property owner thought that there would be a bigger return from having a different business on their land.
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    New study finds that 19 year olds are as sedentary as 60 year olds. The number of bowlers goes down every year and will continue. When is the last time you saw a bunch of kids walk to the bowling alley? You never see kids playing a pickup baseball game. Unless momma or daddy drive them they don't play. Unless you count cosmic bowling, or video bowling games you hold in your hand.

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    Sorry for the lack of quotations back to Aslan, work computer not co-operating:

    (1) As long as the USBC commits to actively changing and communicating these changes I'm good with that.
    (2) My concern is more with the logistics of having association people do this, as long as it doesn't cause them too much of a problem (and that it can't be manipulated by a lane guy) we are good.
    (3) I agree that they need to be reigned in a bit. I didn't comment well, I don't want it to become so much of a hinderence that it pulls them away. But yes, there needs to be some give and take.
    (4) Set a standard for what an appropriate sanctioned league is so that the manipulation is prevented and be understanding that certain ratios of youth/mixed/serious leagues may not be attainable in specific areas and this is fine. Agree there should be some benefit to those building and maintaining the game.
    (5) Make a separate "Champion of Champions" tournament (Mesa Metropolitan USBC does this) and that would work.

    -World scoring format isn't terrible for a single event or two, but the fact that it was being talked as a replacement is a "gimmick".

    Well, that is enough...I have found myself in such a close agreement with Aslan that I need to stop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Anderson View Post
    Is bowling really in a downward spiral?

    I don't have current stats, but just a few years ago, proprietors were claiming a record number of games bowled for the year. Two of my leagues gained teams last season. We had over 60 kids in the youth league last season and 75 bowling this summer.

    Yes, many bowling centers have closed in the last 30 years. I suspect that most of those that closed before 2008 did so not because they weren't making a profit, but because the property owner thought that there would be a bigger return from having a different business on their land.
    I haven't done the research in the sense of open bowling and leagues but I did hear an interview with Tom Clark and it was rather interesting. If you take away the major sports; Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, World Soccer and Golf; and focus on the other televised sports (Rugby, MLS, Track and Field, Swimming, and essentially most other olympic events) they would kill to have the presence the PBA has. If we maintain what bowling really is in regards to spectators it is doing ok (obviously there is plenty of room for improvement). ESPN is able to put it up during the NFL season and it gets an okay rating - bowling will never be a huge spectator activity but I wouldn't say the tour is in a downward spiral.

    In regards to our level of bowling I think the downward spiral is more in the sense that the lines between great and good bowlers are being blurred and that in some instances leagues are being put on the back burner for corporate parties and other opportunities. The corporate houses seem to be putting more and more food/beverage managers in charge and are looking for the big days and months over the consistent profit of full leagues (due to bonus structure) and that is affecting the crowd on this site. If the bowling alley is making more money with this strategy more power to them, but it doesn't seem like a sustainable model for the masses.
    Currently in the bag: Roto Grip Hyper Cell (2000), Storm IQ Tour Fusion (1500 polish), Storm Reign Supreme (2000), DV8 Hooligan Taunt (500 polish - from this site!), Columbia 300 Freeze Hybrid (1500 polish), Faball Blue Hammer.

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