February 28, 2009
The Changing Face of Bowling
By Pat Helwig
The changing face of bowling is in the eyes of the beholder. To the youngster bowling with the birthday group it’s just a game. To the elementary and high school student bowling in a supervised program the game becomes a competitive sport encouraging and embracing individual accomplishment. To the young adult bowler who chooses higher levels of competition and administrative responsibilities the game takes on a deeper meaning, it becomes personal as well as business. To the older adult – with multiple mileage of leagues, tournaments, and administrative prowess the bowling game and it’s future become very personal.
As one of the older adults - it was difficult to hold back the tears during the closing ceremonies of my last WIBC National Convention. My only solace was in the faces of delegates standing near by, they too were fighting back the tears. We were bearing witness to one of the closing chapters of the WIBC. I couldn’t help but think, is it over? Are my 50 years of loyalty to the WIBC , the hard work, friendships, service to bowlers, and participation in the sport I love, over? The moments were too emotional for rational thinking.
In later months the realization became apparent to me. My memories with WIBC are just that, wonderful memories. Now it is time to move on. If the bowling game I love is to survive I must support it with a positive attitude.
A new chapter begins, “The Changing Face of Bowling”. It includes the merger of bowling groups, youth bowlers and two major adult bowling organizations, namely, the ABC (American Bowling Congress) and WIBC (Women’s International Bowling Congress) to form the USBC –(United States Bowling Congress. )
The name of the bowling organizations has changed, but in the eyes of the beholder, people are the same. Those that love the sport will rally for its progress and steady improvement at all levels. . With faces turned and looking in the same direction, their work will go towards common goals hand in hand through change.
With the eyes of the beholder, a sad face appears when the hand is out expecting payment for services, the corporate officers expect high profits, and the centers raise prices to appease the corporate demands.
The sad face appears again when the league fees increase, the tournament entry fees increase due to lineage and expense areas, hardly ever the prize fund, and the corporate owned center is poorly managed with untrained, disrespectful employees.
The economy is to blame for some bowling problems. There is an old saying, “You can fool some of the bowlers some of the time but not all of the bowlers all of the time!”
The media and first hand information earn a happy face for the professional bowlers and their sponsor support, the USBC at the National level with its quest for Olympic status. The scholarship opportunities for young bowlers have increased and continue to feed the growing ranks of our young competitors and administrators. The bowling programs for the schools are working well at all levels.
It makes my day when I witness the excitement and hear the delightful squeal of a middle school student who has successfully delivered a ball that knocked over some pins.
Another happy face for the local level that continues to be the heart beat of the bowling community. The new décor and equipment up-grades in centers make first impressions a repeat visit to the weekend players as well as pleasant comfort for the league bowlers.
The welcome smile and respectful assistance of the bowling center staff in the family owned centers continue to be a high priority.
The happy face continues to be dominant as long as I can share the fun of bowling with my children and grand children, they are the future care givers of the sport we love so much!.