Web Special / July 2011

Rash vs. Belmonte

If you are a bowling fan, you should have enjoyed the telecasts of June 25 and 26 as the best in the sport competed in the GEICO PBA Team Shootout at the 10 Pin Lounge in downtown Chicago.

Said PBA official: “I guarantee is absolutely the most controversial, emotionally-charged, confrontational televised moment in PBA history.”

That controversy is over what is referred to as “Bottlegate.” Once again, Jason Belmonte was called out for popping a plastic water bottle while Sean Rash was on the approach. Prior to this incident, Belmonte was called out by Brad Angelo during the 2011 Dick Weber PBA Playoffs in Indianapolis.

The big difference between the two incidents was the way the professional bowlers handled the situation. Angelo, although unhappy over the incident, conducted himself professionally and directed his comments professionally to Belmonte.

Rash, on the other hand, let fly a profanity-laced barrage that earned him an undisclosed fine from the PBA for “conduct unbecoming a professional.”

Belmonte and Rash have both released statements regarding the incident, and having read both statements, I find I believe Belmonte to be sincere. His statement was apologetic and sincere. The statement released by Rash lacks that sincerity, in my opinion. Rash apologizes for his language but not his actions, claiming he will do it again but chose better verbiage.

As a professional, you have to realize the image you project whether in a bowling center, tournament, or anywhere else in the public eye. Rash knew he was on a televised event and that millions of PBA fans would not only see his actions, but clearly hear his verbal abuse.

Regardless if television cameras were running, the audience was full of women and children. I’m sure many of the women have heard profanity, but kids don’t need to hear it, nor see their professional heroes make a fool of themselves.

My respect goes out to Brand Angelo for the calm professionalism he showed. Rash distinguished himself as a hot-headed, foul-mouthed individual who brought disrespect to himself, his Brunswick sponsor, and the PBA.

I would like to think the rest of the members competing in this event had a few choice words for Rash. Looking at the 19 other bowlers selected for the competition, I do not believe any of them would have responded in the manner Rash did, they are too professional.

The PBA fined Rash, but I think Brunswick should take appropriate action and either fine him or release him. His claim that the words just came out without him thinking just doesn’t hold water. If he had had a single outburst, I might accept that excuse, but he continued on with more profanity. I guess he wasn’t thinking at all. If he really believes that this was a spontaneous reaction, he needs to address his anger issues.

The professional way to have handled the situation would have been to wait until the competition was over and confront Belmonte off camera, or at the least confront him in the professional manner that Angelo did.

Do I believe that Belmonte is trying to distract his opposition? I don’t know, but I sincerely doubt it. In his statement regarding the incident, Belmonte said, “I will say this loud and very clear, and I say it to those who have bowled against me in the past, those I will play in the future, and to the fans watching: I am a respectful, honourable, and honest bowler and person. If you beat me, you did it because you were better than me on the day, and the same goes if I beat you. Simple as that.”

I think back over the years I have watched the PBA, and I can not think of any player in the history of the sport that would have responded in the manner Rash did. Do you think Dick Weber, Don Carter, Earl Anthony, Mark Roth, or ever-the-volatile Marshall Holman would have responded in the manner Rash did? I think not.

Bowling has enough distracters and people who think it’s not a sport but a beer drinker’s social activity. The actions of Rash do nothing to change their opinion, and as the PBA did by fining him, so should everyone else who sponsors him.

You don’t have to be a fan of Belmonte, or Rash, but you need to be a fan of our sport and hold it to a higher standard.

The show will go on nevertheless, and you will see the action for yourself; however, it may be edited. Click here for a partial clip of the telecast.

The shootout will continue Saturday, July 2 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) and Sunday, July 3 at 2:30 p.m.

See you on the lanes.

Contact Don Wright