International Bowling Campus to feature best of yesterday and tomorrow By Dick Evans

    01/12/10

    Column

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg There have been famous duos who have changed history in one way or another by thinking as individuals but working as a historic team.

    Three dynamic duos that come to my mind are:
    • Churchill and Roosevelt, who worked as a team to help bring about the end of World War Two despite living on different continents.
    • Lewis and Clark, who formed a courageous team when exploring the western boundaries of the United States.
    • Ruth and Gehrig, who became the one-two punch during the Yankees' dynasty that Americans forget the Great Depression for a few hours every afternoon.

    2006BPAAJohnBerglund.jpgUSBCJeffBoje.jpgThe bowling industry has its own version of a dynamic duo in John Berglund (left) and Jeff Bojé (right) and the fruition of their impossible dream becomes a reality Jan. 25 with the dedication of the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas.

    I always have believed you have to change with a changing world to keep up with the changing times, even in sports.

    If you don't believe that risks must precede growth then check out the tremendous growth of pro football and pro basketball after the bitter leagues (NFL and AFL plus the NBA and ABA) merged for the good of their sports.

    One of my favorite books ("Men To Match My Mountains") told a story about how fearless pioneers conquered the Rockies and Sierras, which had to be done if the United States was to grow westward.

    Some bowlers are skeptics about the Arlington move, but I would like to remind them that skeptics called it "Seward's Folly"' when Secretary of State Seward talked the United States Congress into buying Alaska from Russia. History proved Alaska was a gold mine for the United States, especially during the Cold War years.

    Nothing in the world improves or grows without a certain amount of risk.

    Bojé, as president of the USBC, and Berglund, as executive director of the BPAA, appeared to me to operate as two men with one mind. The bowling industry should thank them for having the foresight to build a 20-lane center where testing and research will be conducted and adding the International Museum & Hall of Fame to the Arlington complex.

    Long before they knew each other, they have shared one thing in common -- a love of the water with Bojé a collegiate swimmer and Berglund an avid surfer while going to law school in San Diego.

    But make no mistake, they only succeeded in making their impossible dream become a reality because they got a great deal of help from a great deal of people.

    Bojé pointed out that valid point after he and Berglund answered the same eight questions I sent each of them.

    Bojé wrote in in his final graph:
    "As a final note, there were many leaders who played a vital role in bringing together the International Bowling Campus. Without the support of Joe Schumacker, Jim Sturm, John Snyder, Cathy DeSocio, Tom Martino and the BPAA Board, as well as Mike Carroll, Darlene Baker and the USBC Board as well as many others including Pat Cinello, Keith Hamilton and the HOF Board, the IBC would not have happened. It took courageous men and women to dream, dreams that were larger than life.
    "The IBC is the home of dreams, if the dreams ever stop, the IBC will be no more than a building."

    It is worth your time to read the candid answers of Berglund and Bojé below to learn more about the two men and the International Bowling Campus and their views on a possible merger:

     


    Question: "Amazing mergers have taken place in sports over the years including the bitter rival pro football and basketball leagues (NFL-AFL and NBA-ABA) so my question is this: do you think the USBC and BPAA and IBPSIA and PBA could merge within this new decade and would it be beneficial in your view?"

    Bojé: "I could envision BPAA and IBPSIA merging and I could see the PBA and the USBC doing the same. I do not want to see a merger of the BPAA and the USBC. I know there are examples of sports where the governing bodies of the sport and the commercial interests that benefit from them are joined, but I do not believe that this would be in the best interests of the bowling centers or our sport.
    "If anything, the two organizations (USBC and BPAA) need even more focused missions. Lack of focus and purpose will do more harm than good."

    Berglund: "BPAA, USBC and IBPSIA support the PBA and believe it is a tremendous asset for the sport of bowling. People differ as to the value of that asset to their organizations and their individual businesses. We all hope the PBA can survive and grow despite the economic downturn and the difficulties in obtaining sponsorship and would welcome the PBA joining the Campus if it benefits its mission.
    "Jeff has reached out to PBA CEO Fred Schreyer in this regard. Heaven forbid, if the PBA was ever to consider ceasing operations. But if that happened then I hope serious discussions would follow with increased involvement from the industry integers."

     


    Question: "Why do you think the two of you made such a dynamic duo, the movers and shakers and a good team when it came to making the International Bowling Campus happen?"

    Bojé: "For me it boils down to two basic things, respect and trust. As with any relationship there were times that we agreed and times that we did not. We are both fierce competitors in everything that we do, so naturally we were drawn to debate one another.
    "Anyone who has ever debated with John will tell you that he is darn good. He is quick on his feet, his logic is almost always flawless and he is absolutely as stubborn as a mule when he believes he is right. When confronted with this type of person, most people either quit because they know they are going to lose, or they give in because they don't really have enough conviction in what they are fighting for.
    "When John and I disagreed it was like being challenged to a duel. Winning was like bowling a 900. These debates are what earned my respect for John. He cared enough about my opinion to battle me over it. I loved it. My God, he was hard to beat.
    "Then there were the times we agreed and teamed up in a debate. We could work in silent unison like prehistoric raptors, one playing off the other. This was particularly fun at the negotiating table working together to make a deal. Trust came as a result of working and fighting together for so long. I never once found myself deserted.
    "When John gave me his word, he was there till the end. Even if it was a bitter end.
    "To be honest though, I don't really believe we 'teamed up' to make the International Bowling Campus happen. People want to think it was a planned plot of some sort. Especially critics, and there is not a shortage of those around. The truth is that it was more like a sequence of events that happened.
    "As action oriented leaders, both of us did what came natural as events unfolded."

    Berglund: "Jeff was one of three (BPAA) officers on the final interview team that hired me (as executive director of the BPAA) and we connected from the get-go. Upon my hire, but before I actually started, he invited me to his bowing center in Tampa for a weekend.
    "I learned in the trenches while observing a very active and successfully run bowling center and a hard working individual who I grew to admire and respect. A tremendous friendship followed. Jeff is a natural born leader who is consistent in his objectives and logical in his approach. His only industry goal has been to grow bowling.
    "He is the most active and successful leader I have had the opportunity to work with during my entire career. He, like our other presidents and officers, also has a tremendous sense of humor which made our work fun."

     


    Question: "Can you remember when you first discussed the USBC and BPAA being located together and why did you each think it was important for the future growth of the sport?"

    Bojé: "Hard question. If there really is a definable spark that put things into motion it would be when John kept pointing out the then vacant building next to the BPAA building in Arlington and suggesting that it would be a great home for the USBC. I really thought he was kidding at first. Moving mountains is one thing, but surely he was jesting.
    "As I grew to realize he was serious, I thought my friend was going crazy. This was way too logistically difficult. Decades of industry politics would never permit it. Even if it would, this would require the total financial commitment and trust of two boards that barely knew each other. The BPAA and the USBC had so much organizational baggage either through actual past experience or preconceived judgments. They had more reasons to distrust each other than to take this great leap of faith.
    "But John suggested that we get out of our comfort zone and dare to dream of a bigger and better future. He was right and I agreed. We were on the same team right from the start. The only thing preventing it from happening was that it was impossible."

    Berglund: "What most people do not know is that Jeff and I discussed ABC's overtures to us to move BPAA up to Wisconsin around 2003 prior to the merger votes. Both of us agreed that combining physical offices was the right thing to do to grow bowling, but within the officers we were in the minority to moving to Wisconsin at the time as the result of the (ABC-WIBC) merger proposal having failed in its first go around and merger issues remaining.
    "When the building next door (to BWAA headquarters) in Arlington went up for sale, I thought it made sense to approach the USBC about a move, but that did not happen until about August a few months after Jeff's election as USBC president and Kevin Dornberger becoming the interim CEO."

     


    Question: "In retrospect, do you wish that you had done something differently?

    Bojé: "I wish that I would not have become the President of the USBC. I believe I could have been more effective and done more for the industry had I remained a USBC Board member and not the Chairman. There are still so many people who want to remain in their box. Like I said, I could have accomplished just as much without providing a target for people to potentially use to harm bowling. That was never my intention.
    "I am not afraid of being a target. That is what being a leader is all about. I just do not like that in this case it provides a means for some people to use to perpetuate divisiveness."

    Berglund: "NO."

     


    Question: "Will the museum or the training/testing center be the biggest draw or will they complement each other, and if so, in what ways?"

    Bojé: "The Campus is laid out perfect. It is in total balance. On one side rests a celebration of a rich and proud past. On the other side is the place that will discover, create and teach about the future. Between them is the impossible union that now connects the past to the future."

    Berglund: "For sheer volume, the museum should outdraw the training center but in reality they will complement each other. Those receiving training obviously are candidates to visit the Museum. And those visiting the museum, particularly groups, may have the opportunity to package a game or two of recreational bowling at the training facility."

     


    Question: "Do you have any special things you want to do at the grand opening of the International Bowling Campus Jan. 25 with your families or with each other?"

    Bojé: "I am sad that my wife and children will not be able to attend. Timing has plagued my industry involvement. With five children ranging in age from a college freshman to my now eleven year old triplets, travel during the school year makes it difficult for them to be with me. I have been away from them and left my wife to be a single parent far too often.
    "Fortunately, my mother and father will be at the opening. I guess the one thing I would like to do is look into my parents' eyes and believe that they are proud of what has been accomplished.
    " I also like to believe that someday my children will forgive my absence and be proud of their father. I pray that it may inspire them and others to dare to think beyond the walls and risk, with pure heart, to reach for what is impossible."

    Berglund: "I look forward to being back on the Bowling Campus to see the physical completion of the museum and training center in addition to visiting with all my good friends."

     


    Question: "Do you regret that the owners of the Six Flags Over Texas attraction refused to let you buy or trade property so that you would be able to build a more spacious 20-lane center with a deeper concourse and if so, why?"

    Bojé: "No. When I look out of the window at that land and see the old BPAA building beyond, it allows me to see even greater possibilities. I do not regret that our concourse could have been larger."

    Berglund: "My initial vision was to have the training center attached to the pre-existing BPAA building, which would have been impossible without the purchase of the Six Flags land. Jeff, however, always had the vision of attaching the training center to the newer building, which did not need that additional land although it would have made for a slightly more comfortable fit.
    "In retrospect, Jeff's vision was more appropriate, regardless. The reason for being unable to obtain the land is that it is owned by the original owners of Six Flags which includes a partnership of about 20 people, and it was simply too complicated to get the sign off of all in such a short time. I do believe that an opportunity will arise in the near future for this purchase should the Bowling Campus be interested."

     


    Question: "John already is retired in St. Martin in the Caribbean and Jeff will be stepping down Aug. 1 after three years as president of the USBC board following two years as president of the BPAA, so what do you plan to do with your "free" time? I realize that Jeff still will have three bowling centers to operate?"

    Bojé: "I am not capable of having free time. It is a character flaw. If I don't have ten things to do and only time to do five of them, I somehow find things. Hopefully, they will all be close to home.
    "After John profitably unites the French and Dutch sides of St. Martin, I'm willing to bet we see him back again in some form or fashion. He has unfinished bowling work."

    Berglund: "I am semi-retired operating a business in St. Martin with my wife with our two grown children near the water in San Diego. For anyone interested, our business details can be found at tijon.com. The business challenges us while allowing time for the beach and recreational activities, not the least of which is our most enjoyable thing -- giving family and friends island tours. Anyone heading this way only need email me at john@tijon.com."

     


    Email address: Evans121@aol.com