Web Special / April 17, 2003

The WIBC vote and bowling's future

Bowling scribes from across the country wrote about the ABC rejecting the United States Bowling Congress -- Single Membership Organization. Nearly every writer in bowling newspapers and magazines had their own take on the pros and cons of the vote. Newsletter editors cut and pasted the articles, and I couldn't get around bowlers without them asking my opinion on the future of the sport.

In all honesty, one of the best columns I read was done by Jim Dressel, editor of Bowlers Journal International. In his analysis entitled Dead Women Voting?, he wrote:

This is a critical time in bowling's history. The United States Bowling Congress proposition is between votes. The American Bowling Congress rejected the merger last month, and later this month, the Women's International Bowling Congress gets its chance to vote the USBC into existence or join the ABC naysayers.

So why is this such a critical juncture? Our read on the situation is that if WIBC votes 'no' on USBC -- or allows that infamous one-year delay to stand -- it has sentenced itself to extinction. Perhaps the death will be long, slow death, but if things are allowed to go on as before with a 'no' vote, the prediction here is that WIBC will be 'dead women voting' in Reno, and ABC will emerge as the lone membership group. If, on the other hand, WIBC votes 'yes,' then it is the ABC that could lose its battle for survival.

True, I might be wrong. But if I'm not, then WIBC's vote at the end of this month looms as one of the most important ever in the history of the game's governance.

Well, we soon will know how the women voted, but will we know what the future holds for the sport?

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Have you noticed that there isn't near as much complaining about honor scores now as there was a year ago? Maybe it's because people are realizing that it isn't just bowling that has had a change in its scoring.

Look back on baseball. When Babe Ruth belted his 500th home run on August 11, 1929 off of pitcher Willis Hudlin, it landed on Lexington Ave., outside of Cleveland's League Park. It became the benchmark for hitters. Now there are 18 who have reached the 500 mark and suddenly that number is losing its value. In fact, another 18 players have the opportunity to reach that mark in this decade.

I was looking over the PGA Tour stats, and in 2002 the top 75 golfers had a scoring average of 70 or less. The top 171 had a scoring average of 71 or less. It seems that shooting par or below is becoming easier for the pros.

Name the sport and improvements in the equipment, athletes in better shape, better facilities, training, and knowledge available have changed everything from automobile racing to X-treme sports.

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Tom Clark wrote an article regarding bowling being a sport. He titled the article, "The Most Stupid Debate of All." Of course he feels that bowling is a sport, as I am sure all of us that bowl do. But I was watching television the other night, and George Carlin had this to say about "It's Not a Sport:"

Shoe rental was the best he could come up with. Oh well, at least we are not cruel to horses -- although I have seen a few frozen turkeys and a midget or two who might think the game is cruel.

While on the subject of horses, who is the athlete in a horse race?

Man, sports can be confusing. If you look in your handy-dandy dictionary, "sport," "competition," and "game" are pretty much the same. However, when the soldiers took Baghdad, some boob said, "The game is over." Try telling our troops all they were in was a game.

God bless our Armed Forces.

See you on the lanes.