STARS & STRIKES / Jim Goodwin

Web Special / April 2007

A proprietor shall lead them? ... Why not?

By the time most people read this little offering, the USBC convention will be over, and the newly merged men’s and women’s bowling membership organization will have a new president. Thanks to the power of the internet, however, some will have the opportunity to read this before the election. If the person elected is Mr. Jeff Bojé, it will send a strong message that things really have changed at USBC headquarters in Greendale, Wisconsin.

Actually, I wish I had known who the candidates were sooner, but it wasn’t until after the BPAA mid-winter meetings that we learned that former WIBC President Sylvia Broyles was officially a candidate, only recently did Bowlers Journal International editor Jim Dressel reveal that former BPAA President Jeff Bojé is on the ballot. It appears there are no official methods or deadlines for officially declaring one’s candidacy.

My understanding is that there is also a third candidate, but it seems to be a closely guarded national secret. If not for Dressel, we may not have known about Broyles and Bojé until after the election.

For those who are still in the dark about the new way some of bowing’s leaders are now chosen, here’s how it works: The men and women who are registered delegates to this month’s USBC Convention in Nashville will, by majority vote, elect four people to the four open positions on the 24-member USBC board of directors.

Once that board is in place, those 24 people will then elect a new USBC president to replace Michael Carroll, who has completed three one-year terms. On the surface, Broyles seems to be the most likely choice because she is the vice president of USBC, and the last president of the Women’s International Bowling Congress before the merger.

This simpler, streamlined process may seem a bit odd to those who cherished the "pecking order" method, but it sure makes the election process more interesting. Rubber-stamped elections are finally gone—Hallelujah!

Broyles also ran for the office last year, and lost to Carroll by one vote. Her desire to become the first woman president of USBC stems from a promise that she and many others believe was made to the former WIBC leaders in exchange for their support of the merger.

The implied promise was that if a man became the first USBC president, then a woman would follow. Was it a pact made only to achieve a desired result? Based on what some leaders are now saying, it may have been, or it may have been a bit of wishful thinking.

Broyles tells Dressel in a March BJ interview that “I’m not one who wants gender to be an issue,” but she also says “a lot of women supported the idea [that if we helped create USBC], it would be best for the industry if women were [more than a token] part of its leadership.”

It certainly sounds like Broyles believes a deal was made, but USBC CEO Roger Dalkin told the BJ’s Bob Johnson in that same issue “That may have been a preconceived notion of the ‘general population,’ but I never heard that as any type of position or policy from the USBC board. If there was some kind of behind-closed-doors meeting of the minds on this, I wasn’t behind that door.”

We really love Sylvia Broyles, and no one can ever question she has given much more to bowling than she has received. When she declared her candidacy for WIBC President, we enthusiastically endorsed her, and she won by a landslide. But, (as my recently departed friend Dick Stoeffler always said, “There is always a but.”) we don’t believe she is the best leader for USBC right now.

Frankly, I’m surprised Jeff Bojé is willing to serve as USBC president. He was a great leader for BPAA, and in my opinion, represents the best hope for progress. Bowling has to change, and if a person with a different perspective can spark new ideas and new attitudes, then that person deserves a chance to lead. “This election should not be about whether or not I am a proprietor or Sylvia is a woman,” Bojé told Dressel. “It should be about who is the best person to represent the best interests of the USBC.” Well said.

It is no secret that I have written many times that bowing’s membership organization desperately needs fresh ideas and leadership, and a change of direction. Without a doubt, Bojé is the most likely to make much needed changes. Will he also protect the best interests of the sport? I believe he will. As an example, he was the first to speak out about the awful pre-bowled 900 fiasco, and he was right. His bowling centers also have a strong league base, indicating he is pro-sport.

If Bojé is elected, will the masses of former WIBC and ABC members revolt? Why would they? I believe the days of animosity between Greendale and Arlington are almost behind us, and most of that fabled feud was only among a few leaders who are no longer in power. The average bowler in the settee area actually likes proprietors, especially those like Boje who give them clean centers and good service.

If you look at the professions of those who serve on the USBC board of irectors, you will find bowlers, real estate professionals, tax preparers, bankers and financial advisors, computer consultants, teachers, telecom administrators, engineers, architects, retired military people, bookkeepers, television producers, even an agriculture teacher and farmer. With all that diversity, what’s wrong with having a bowling center owner as the leader?

Did I mention he is also a CPA?