Delegates should learn from bowling's history and seek harmony By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg The bowling membership organizations have faced some critical decisions at conventions between the time the ABC was founded in 1895 and the WIBC in 1916.

    In my book, the delegates decision to remove the word "WHITE" only from the membership eligibility rule in 1950 was the most traumatic and historic from bowling's popularity across America.

    Of course the decision of the WIBC to move from Columbus, Ohio, to Milwaukee was crucial as the recent decision to merger all the membership organizations.

    Now comes the USBC Convention in Kansas City May 7-10, two months after the USBC Board of Directors voted to move the national bowling headquarters from Milwaukee to Arlington, Texas.

    In my mind, it was a wise decision and I foresee the day that the International Bowling Campus will be the best thing to happen to bowling.

    The important thing for every bowler and every delegate to recognize after studying bowling history is the fact that bowling leaders have done what they thought best at a given time to grow the sport.

    Some experiments worked, some fell flat on their faces.

    No one person – any ABC executive director or WIBC president – could have prevented the slow and steady decline in membership for a number of factors, some traceable to bowling itself but most involving a changing world.

    The Kansas City delegates should look no farther than the old Professional Bowlers Association to realize that no sport can stand still and rest on its laurels. The PBA was one of television's kingpins when it came to Saturday viewing audiences.

    But when times started to change and ratings started to slide, the PBA did not respond with innovative new strategy and it resulted in the financially broke old PBA being saved by three former Microsoft executives in 2000.

    The USBC Board made a courageous decision to move to Arlington and naturally a lot of people – especially people who worked in Milwaukee and had established deep roots in the area – were disenchanted.

    Without amazing financial support from the Bowling Proprietors Association, the decision to move to Arlington never would have happened.

    And that would have meant no new ultra-modern training and testing facility, no new home for the Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum and a building large enough to house all the key components of the bowling industry.

    If you cannot look into the future and have faith in the future, then you cannot see the big picture.

    In my mind, the two key players in this gigantic endeavor have been USBC President Jeff Boje and BPAA Executive Director John Berglund. Of course, many others played important roles but in my mind Berglund and Boje were the point soldiers in this battle so to speak.

    And make no mistake, this will be a fortuitous move at this time in our country's economic problems.

    But the one thing that looms on the horizon that could send the bowling membership into another tailspin toward self destruction would be an insurrection among delegates and that looms on the horizon in Kansas City.

    As I understand it, a proposed amendment from the Illinois women – who were so strongly opposed to the original merger move – has been filed that could throw a roadblock to growing the sport.

    And nothing could be worse at this point in bowling's history.

    \ Like it or not, the move to Arlington is going to become a reality this year and bowling is going to be a stronger sport for it.

    Now is not the time to rock the boat.

    I have been watching the "Carrier" series on public television about the USS Nimitz, a nuclear aircraft carrier.

    The long documentary interviewed a lot of sailors and airmen on the six-months at sea, including duty in the Iraq area.

    Many said they were against the war and many were far the war.

    But they all took serious their duty to the ship and America and each one did his/her duty to the best their ability.

    It was a long but successful cruise.

    The USBC soon will be lifting anchor from Milwaukee and shipping out for Arlington and I hope every voting delegate realizes you don't change captains while still at sea.

    This is an important mission and demands courageous decisions...just like the delegates did in 1950 on the controversial "white" only issue.

    Make no mistake, probably 75 percent of the ABC and WIBC members didn't like that decision but they made it work for the good of the sport of bowling.

    A fellow bowling writer, Joe Lyou, died recently and I never will forget how my dear friend who had fought in World War II would talk about the years he could not bowl in ABC Leagues after because his parents had migrated from South Korea to Los Angeles where he was born.

    His crime was he wasn't "white."

    Bowling has come a long way, it has a long way to go.

    Bowling industry should offer bowling lessons to next President on White House Lanes

    Bowling has been the sport of choice for presidential candidates this year.

    For many years, politicians have known about the value of going to a bowling center and shaking hands with up to 300 league bowlers.

    But now with the cable TV channels covering their every move, the 2008 presidential candidates have gone a step farther – they have actually laced up bowling shoes and tried to knock down pins.

    I saw one setting up shop in a Milwaukee bowling center but no real news came out of the outing.

    Then during the long run up to the Pennsylvania primary, Democratic front runner Senator Barack Obama decided to give bowling a shot.

    After all, he was recognized as an adept basketball player so hard could it be to roll a bowling ball 60 feet and knock down a few pins for a photo opportunity.

    It was a disastrous decision.

    Sen. Obama bowled seven frames and knocked down 37 pins, which means he average knocking down 3.7 pins with two shots in every frame. Political commentators had a field day laughing about the score and said no wonder he quit after seven frames.

    I'm not sure if it proved how difficult bowling really is or if Sen. Obama needs to get lessons from super instructors like Dick Ritger, John Jowdy or Fred Borden after Borden becomes a Daytona Beach resident in the near future.

    Sen. Obama could have the last laugh if he wins the presidential election in November.

    Most people do not know but they built two bowling lanes under the White House while Harry Truman was president. He liked to bowl, so did Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton was a sanctioned junior league bowler growing up in Little Rock, Ark.

    I visited the White House bowling lanes about 30 years ago and thought that it an ideal setting for a president with children like Sen. Obama.

    They don't have to ask for Secret Service agents to accompany them to a tennis court, or golf course or basketball court. They can escape to the bowling lanes and enjoy America's favorite participation sport as a family without worrying about cameras and possible danger.

    And more important, they don't have to worry about anybody laughing if any of them manages to knock down only 37 pins in seven frames...which many avid bowlers like to think cost Sen. Obama the Pennsylvania primary by nine pins – no, nine points.

    Imagine this scenario – Sen. Obama becomes the next president and he and his family move into the White House. For the next four years he is coached by Borden, Jowdy and Ritger and during the primaries in 2012 President Obama bowls a 200 plus game at every campaign stop.

    If that happens, former President Obama could compete on the Professional Bowlers Association's Senior tour after his eight years in the White House.

    No matter who wins the presidential election, I hope they take time to enjoy bowling on the White House Lanes.