Web Special / November 2008

PBA format needs tweaking

There's an old adage, Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

The Professional Bowlers Association is the greatest source of promotion for bowling. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to comment or question the business tactics and decisions of the PBA. Additionally, it is privately owned and is not subject to criticism from outsiders.

Nevertheless, the powers in charge have not only listened and accepted suggestions from bowlers and fans, they have implemented several recommendations that serve to better the organization:

Let's examine the two different formats—the 24-man finals with bonus pins and the four out of seven elimination. First, Jason Belmonte, the sensational two-handed thumbless Australian star, finished close to 300 pins ahead of second in the recent PBA World Championship Tournament at Wichita, Kansas. The top 32 qualifiers advanced to the finals, with the top eight qualifiers awarded two byes in match play into the 16-match-game finals.

In my humble opinion, two byes are too many—one bye is enough of an advantage. Nonetheless, despite the two byes, Belmonte was eliminated in his first match in a four-out-of-seven game contest by Chris Barnes. Barnes probably finished close to 500 pins behind Belmonte in the qualifying rounds. Had the 16 or 24-man finals bonus format been applied, chances are Belmonte would have easily made the TV show and most likely won the championship. The Australian star overwhelmed the opposition for three days, then succumbed to a rival he outscored by almost 500 pins … in less than three hours!

That being said and, again, in my opinion, two byes are too many. For example, suppose the ninth-place finisher ended up only one or two pins behind eighth. This means, he averaged the same score as the eighth-place qualifier, yet he was obligated to bowl two extra usually grueling matches to advance to the top 16.

To sum it all up, here are the two issues I believe should be addressed:

These are not only my personal convictions. I base my opinions on comments I hear from bowlers and fans alike.