The 2007 FIQ/WTBA Congresses should be mandatory not voluntarily - in any case!



    WTBALogo.jpg FIQ Logo.jpg The 2007 FIQ/WTBA Congresses, to be held in conjunction with the 2nd Women's World Championships, August 30 through September 9 in Mexico will be the most important event for every bowling federation leader in the world since many years.

    The main issue is (still) the re-organization - or should I say the merger - of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) and the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA).

    Hopefully they will give the 'kid' a reasonable and a more easy to understand name as Federation Internationale des Quilleurs. I know the French will not agree but English is the official language in bowling and when even the FIQ doesn't write the name correctly on its own Website it's about high time for a modern name.

    However, the re-organization issue seems to be a never-ending story. Our officials are working on this issue without any success since the beginning of this millennium. Of course, it is a difficult issue and the millennium isn't that old yet but if Bowling shall have a chance to become an Olympic sport, the issue has to be solved in the 2007 Congresses.

    To explain what's going on we have to go back to the year 2001. There was a proposal before the 2001 Congress in Denmark that was deferred for consideration to a special Congress to be held in 2002 in Ecuador, solely for the purpose of considering this proposal and others that might come forward. This special Congress was never held.

    The proposal from the European Tenpin Bowling Federation (ETBF) resurfaced in 2003 in Malaysia and was soundly rejected. After that FIQ formed a Rules/Reorganization Committee (RRC) to consider further options.

    Kevin Dornberger, FIQ Vice President and Director of USBC Team USA, became the chairman of that committee.

    "We solicited proposals from the federations, and received two", said the 57 year-old lawyer, who is also the General Counsel of the United States Bowling Congress.

    "We considered them and proposed one as modified by the committee to the Presidium and Congress in 2005 in Denmark." Guess what? You're right, this proposal was soundly rejected. Denmark doesn't seem to be a good place for any proposals.

    The Rules/Reorganization Committee wanted to meet again in Caracas on November 6 during the annual QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup. As Bowlingdigital has reported John Walker, President and CEO, QubicaAMF Worldwide, has announced that the event might take place at an alternative venue.

    According to Dornberger, this will not affect the RRC meeting at all and he is looking forward to holding a successful meeting wherever the World Cup will be held. "We have solicited input from all federations by email." Dornberger said.

    "It is my hope that we will receive some input, review the options and send at least two proposals to all federations for further comment or criticism. After a designated comment period the committee will meet again and finalize one or two options for Presidium and Congress consideration in Mexico.

    As Bowlingdigital will bring you live coverage from the 42nd QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup - also wherever the World Cup will be held - we will keep you up-date about the input from the federations.

    If there is little or no input from the federations, it means the federations leave it to the committee and the FIQ and WTBA Presidiums to make a proposal. Not a big challenge in my opinion for both - at least as far the tenpin bowling officials are concerned.

    The biggest challenge for the four (!) ninepin officials (WNBA president and the presidents of the three ninepin sections, among the nine members of the FIQ Presidium will be to get to the congresses.

    According to well-informed sources they were invited by tenpin officials in the past. Hey, don't you think it might help to get a majority? This is the reason why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not allow their members to accept any invitation. This should be mandatory for the FIQ and WTBA Presidium members too.

    Obviously, one of the significant challenges for FIQ and WTBA is the lack of employees dedicated to completion of tasks. "We rely almost exclusively on volunteers and that is a distinct disadvantage in getting anything done," Dornberger stated.

    "I have charged employees at United States Bowling Congress (USBC) to consider reorganization from a new perspective and potentially draft one or two options for Committee consideration."

    The USBC is by far the largest bowling organization in the world with an overall membership of 2,728,590 in the 2005-06 season.

    However, the USBC has just one vote in the Congresses like all the other bowling federations in the world, though their membership exceeds the population of many member countries in the European Zone such as Latvia and Slovenia, in the Asian Zone such a Qatar and Macau, and in the American Zone such as Bahamas and Aruba.

    However, Dornberger is not suggesting that the USBC has to play a leading role in this issues though the USBC official have made the biggest merger in the history of our sport less than two years ago.

    The United States Bowling Congress (officially launched Jan. 1, 2005) resulted from the merger of the American Bowling Congress (ABC), Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC), Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) and USA Bowling.

    "This is not to suggest that USBC has all the answers; rather, it is one method to ensure some time and effort is put into the project at this crucial juncture. Further, by allowing federation input on two separate occasions it is my hope that they will feel that they have been more involved in the process," said Dornberger.

    Supposed that the FIQ/WTBA re-organization issue can be solved next year, will the Olympic effort continue? There is no doubt about it for Dornberger.

    "There are currently two sport slots open for potential future Olympic inclusion, and there may be more after consideration by the IOC in the next year or two. These spots may, or may not, be filled by on IOC process, probably in 2009, for the 2016 Olympics," Dornberger said.

    "For Bowling to be considered as a viable candidate for those spots, we have to make significant progress on the following:

    a. Resolve the ongoing debate as to who is in charge, FIQ or WTBA.
    This would be solved with the FIQ/WTBA reorganization.

    b. Allow the best athletes to play. The removal of the 'amateur only" rule will again be proposed in 2007.
    This should be no discussion at all. Who is able to draw a line between card holders of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) and the Japanese Professional Bowlers Association (JPBA) and the top level amateurs who make their living through prize money and sponsor contracts or through the support of their governments? The myth that pros are undefeatable was proved to be wrong a long time ago.

    c. Become more spectator/media friendly.
    Exclamation mark. Just one example, Though Biboy Rivera and Achim Grabowski bowled one of the most spectacular Masters finals in the history of the World Championships, if you didn't follow very closely you didn't know who was winning, and on what condition they were bowling on. And it doesn't help much to understand our sport if the rules are changing faster than the bowling balls.

    d. Appeal more to the 18 to 34 year-old demographic market, both from a competitor and TV spectator perspective. This is a major concern, and point of focus, for the IOC and its major sponsor, NBC TV.
    Welcome to the 21st century!

    e. Develop African and Oceanic Zones.
    Did you know that Israel, Morocco and even South Africa belong to the European Zone while Egypt is in the Asian Zone?

    Dornberger brought it to the point when he finished with the following simple statement: "If we don't seriously commit to these issues, and soon, we have decided for ourselves that we are not really interested in Bowling becoming an Olympic Sport."

    This reminds me to the words of the busiest guy at the Men's World Championships in Korea, whose motto was: "We don't have problems, we only have matters."

    I really like his point of view and I say: For the good of our sport, get together and clear the matter. See you at the Congresses in Mexico!