USBC Convention to feature drama and colorful telecasts in Kansas City By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg The brochure says "Join the Action at the 2008 USBC Convention May 6-10 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo." Then down in the right-hand corner is another message: "Be a part of the TV audience for Bowling's Clash of Champions."

    And that brings us to what may be the greatest show on earth when it comes to versatile bowling talent. The eight men and eight women TV contestants all are winners of USBC events in the past year from junior to senior to pros to amateurs."

    I have been to maybe 75 ABC, WIBC, BPAA and USBC conventions over the years and this is the first time I am excited to participate in the event. Under a new USBC rule for Hall of Famers, I understand I am eligible to vote for old or new Board of Director members and current USBC President Jeff Boje.

    As in any new organization, you have to tweak so many rules and regulations and scrutinize so many candidates to get it right. I think if you are standing pat in life, then you are slipping backward.

    The USBC is on fast forward when it comes convincing the American public bowling is a difficult sport.

    I would guess that pro champions Weber and Kulick may be the best known and junior champions Martinez and Brown the least known in the unique TV series "Clash of Champions."

    When you are pitting USBC champions from different tournaments and they range in age from 17 to 54 you have a mixed bag of both talent and experience.

    Yet, any of the 16 bowlers could wind up winning $50,000 during the taped telecasts that will be carried by the CBS Network Saturday (5 p.m. EDT) and Sunday (4 p.m. EDT).

    Ironically, CBS was the last network to carry a PBA Tournament and this will be bowling's first appearance on a national TV network in the 21st Century.

    The ratings success of these two bowling telecasts will depend on three things:

    1. How much the CBS network itself promotes the one-hour telecasts this week. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt the bowling shows get much exposure on the CBS network before the event.
    2. How many of the USBC's approximately three million members turn their TV sets on Saturday at 5 and Sunday at 4 and switch to the CBS network.
    3. How many avid bowling fans will use the Internet to contact 40 or 50 friends urging them to watch the CBS telecasts Saturday and Sunday and urging each to send the same message to another 40 to 50 friends. If it becomes a big Internet chain letter promoting the two bowling telecasts then a trend could be set for future bowling telecasts.

    And make no mistake about it, solid TV ratings can open doors on Madison Avenue and open bank vaults on Wall Street.

    I am going to be honest, I am not real sure how this Bowling Clash of Champions is going to work during the actual taping Thursday night at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium because it is the brainchild of Tom Clark and he marches to a different bowling drummer than most bowling promoters.

    However, I think Tom has a great imagination and uncanny ability to add a different spark to TV shows.

    He did it with the USBC Queens tournaments and the U.S. Women's Open despite a lot of criticism from staid bowling writers who are mired in tradition.

    The Professional Bowlers Association, which has been in the TV business for almost 50 years, just hired Tom Clark away from the USBC and he switches bowling jobs in mid-May.

    The PBA knew Tom was a good writer when he worked at USA Today, they know how he been able to sell TV bosses on new formats and they must think he can add new zest and zeal to the PBA tour and telecasts.

    I certainly do.

    Even Tom's concept of a telecast setting is different. At the National Bowling Stadium during the U.S. Women's Open tapings last August and October, he set up a lounge type atmosphere to the left of the lanes and it proved popular with the VIPs in the Reno community and looked sharp on TV.

    The setting in Kansas City could be even more startling -- the USBC Convention stage will be built on top of the pinsetters inside the 10-000 seat arena. The auditorium also will be the site of the USBC Hall of Fame dinner.

    Clark's influence on the USBC Hall of Fame ceremonies will result in a record turnout of ABC, WIBC and USBC Hall of Fame members, including new inductees like Brian Voss and Roger Dalkin.

    I must jump ahead about six weeks for this next Hall of Fame piece of information. For the first time, a Coaches Hall of Fame member will be inducted during Bowl Expo in Orlando June 25 and the Bowling Proprietors of America wants to recognize every Hall of Fame member from the ABC/WIBC/USBC by awarding them a gold medal to be worn around their necks on Wednesday, June 25.

    This fits in with the new close association of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America and the United States Bowling Congress as they combine financial resources and energy in opening the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas, later this year.

    It should be a great USBC Convention in Kansas City this week and a fantastic Bowl Expo in Orlando June 22-26.

    And hopefully it will be a great pair of telecasts Friday and Saturday on CBS with a 100 bowling chain letters urging friends to turn on the one hour telecasts.

    Don't forget to pass the word on the CBS telecasts Saturday at 5 and Sunday at 4 (EST).

    Email address: