Everything you didn't want to know about USBC Convention By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg Trust is something that is earned and not granted automatic entry into our brains.

    It is especially true in bowling where the old gutter-ball shooters would flirt with the gutter on their strike deliveries but had trust that their timing would be perfect and the ball would end up the strike pocket.

    They all lived by the creed: "trust is a must."

    Their trust was well founded in most cases but I remember when a gutter shooter lost a PBA title because he hit his ankle with the ball, which rolled into the gutter, and he lost the championship game by a few pins.

    My beliefs about trust seeped into my brain at the USBC Convention April 30 when President Jeff Bojé pointed out how important trust is to the future growth of the United States Bowling Congress.

    So I thought about things I had seen and heard during four days at the convention after talking to delegates, USBC board members, former USBC board members, Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA) President Jim Sturm and some of his fellow BPAA leaders/workers plus veteran and astute bowling fixtures at all conventions like Ron Woods.

    And I started to form OPINIONS of what I had seen and heard. Remember that they are just opinions, not facts. I also heard a rumor that I could not conform but if true it is speaks volumes for how determined the USBC board is when it comes to financial matters.

    The rumor, and that's all that it was, centered around speculation that the USBC board was cutting its own expenses at meetings and conventions in the future. If that is true, then the board should be applauded for biting the bullet itself.

    USBC Executive Director Stu Upson delivered a dynamic summary of the trials and tribulations of the USBC from the inability to sell the old headquarters building in Greendale, Wis. to the furor over the drinking rule at the USBC Open tournament being held across the street at the National Bowling Stadium.

    I came away with a new respect for Upson and his honesty. That created in me a sense of trust in my mind especially when he admitted the USBC had made a few mistakes...just like the gutter-ball shooter when he misses his mark and leaves a bad split after a bad shot.

    Mistakes happen in bowling and life no matter how hard we try. I think the USBC board has been doing a good job through the most difficult time in the history of the membership organization.

    But I do agree with Stu Upson's opinion that the USBC has been catering to the elite members too much instead of the other 90 percent of its membership.

    For what it is worth, I am going to run through a few points that popped into my mind during the USBC Convention.


    BPAA should sponsor women

    Today's modern BPAA does a great job for its members but doesn't come close to matching the old BPAA when it comes to running national tournaments for its customers.

    I got hooked on writing bowling because I covered the 1962 BPAA National All-Star Tournament that was held in the Miami Beach Convention Center for 11 days.

    The BPAA invested a lot of money to make sure it was one of the country's elite sporting events complete with coverage by about 40 writers from daily newspapers plus a national TV network.

    In 1962, each state was allotted so many bowlers in the 448-male and 244-women fields and they ran state eliminations to determined the national representatives from each state.

    It was the biggest event in bowling and catered to the BPAA's bowling customers until discontinued in 1970.

    The BPAA also ran a prestigious National Doubles tournament for its customers in the old days.

    Which brings me to my point.

    The USBC has decided it does not have the funds to sponsor the U.S. Women's Open next year so I think the BPAA should step up to the plate and sponsor the 2011 U.S. Women's Open, which is reality is an offshoot of the BPAA National All-Star. If I recall correctly, the BPAA has sponsored the U.S. Women's tournament in the past decade.

    In addition, I think the BPAA should work with the PBA and find some way to sponsor the women's competition next season. It would be a shame if Kelly Kulick had not had a shot at national stardom if she had not been eligible to compete in the PBA Tournament of Champions.

    I believe today's proprietors, like their forefathers, should step up to the bat with national tournaments for their most devoted customers. No one should live in the past, but they should learn from it.

    I have always believed that the proprietors across the country benefit most from any national telecast, therefore I think they should get back in the game when it comes to sponsoring national events for their customers.

    But I would urge all of bowling to stay away from those Mickey-Mouse events that are made just for TV – they do nothing to promote the SPORT OF TENPIN BOWLING and it is shameful that the Queens champion doesn't earn more than an April gimmick event held in Arlington.

    I would have reduced the Petraglia scoring event price fund in Arlington by at least $10,000 and given $8,000 of it to the USBC Queens champion and $2,000 to the USBC Senior Queens Champion.

    If I am not mistaken, the winner of Jeanette Robinson's Storm Golden Ladies Classic at The Orleans in Las Vegas last March earned a larger paycheck than the Senior Queens winner.

    I have had trust in the formation of the International Bowling Campus since it was announced and I think the flourishing BPAA should invest in TV shows – just like the old BPAA did when the BPAA was a less powerful organization.


    USBC Board candidates handicapped

    I think the USBC's method of picking new board members needs major changes since we live in a democracy where a candidate should get more exposure.

    As I writer, I know that I can hold my own against anybody, but I know I am not a polished speaker and I would come out a loser if I went up against my buddies Chuck Pezzano and John Jowdy when it comes to public speaking.

    So I think it is not fair for the USBC to allow its delegates only got 90-second and then a 60-second second chance to state their platforms during the meet the candidates' workshop Friday. Karen Jost, the nomination chairperson, read bios on each candidate Saturday before the voting.

    In my mind, the best speakers in front of a mike should win hands down.

    I see no reason that each candidate should not be able to write a page resume and have it placed on Bowl.com so that all the delegates could read about the candidates before arriving at the convention.

    And then the USBC moderator should ask specific questions of each candidate based on his/her opinions about different aspects of the current market from how to stop membership loss to how to lure more people to the Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Arlington. etc.

    I found the USBC questions generic and, therefore would favor the incumbent candidates.

    Since the USBC is a non-profit organization, I also would like to see the minutes of each board meeting put on Bowl.com so that the delegates could be assured there was no hidden agenda.

    In other words, a sunshine rule so that everyone would know up front what is happening inside the USBC.

    This only makes common sense since the USBC is basically owned by the members.

    Again, just my opinion.


    Sport scores

    As a writer, I love high scores in any sport. But I have bought into the belief that the USBC is valiantly trying to subdue league scoring but not in its national tournaments.

    Both the USBC Open in Reno and USBC Women's Open have been producing numerous record scoring feats, which makes me believe that the Sport bowling conditions are not being used in those two events.

    From a psychology standpoint, I understand that the USBC must produce an atmosphere at its national tournaments where the bowlers have a good time and finish with good scores instead of bad scores.

    That whets the bowler's desire to try again next year and next year and sometimes 50 years in a row.

    But it is that same desire to do well in leagues that bring regular league bowlers back year after year. No one wants to see his/her average go down each year. I realize that many upper echelon averages are inflated and erroneous but the astronomical scoring trend does not extend down to more than 60 percent of league bowlers.

    And I don't think proprietors will buy into curtailing scoring because that directly will curtail business next year in my opinion.

    Besides, if every center has a good coach then bowlers in that center should see a 10 to 15 percent increase in their scoring ability if they take lessons.


    USBC should add food

    I was wrong to write against allowing the USBC Board deciding to allow drinking during USBC Open at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

    From everything I heard in Reno, there have been no problems with excessive drinking and many bowlers have welcomed the chance to gulp Gatorade or a beer instead of just water like in the previous 100 plus years.

    Part of the reason may be that, according to Emails I have received, there has been a shortage of cocktail waitresses to cover the 78-lane center more than once or twice during a set. I also learned on my flight out of Reno that a first-time bowler was informed by his team captain that drinking was not allowed at the U.S. Open.

    I have heard a few stories where squads have been late and that bowlers have had to bowl through their normal dinner hour. So I am advocating that finger food should be allowed at the USBC Open and USBC Women's Open next year.

    We want to keep bowlers happy and apparently they are using good judgment with the new drinking rule so good food should be added.


    Short Nuggets

    It will pay league bowlers to order the new USBC Nationwide credit card because it will take care of your USBC dues next season.

    It was sad to hear that the U.S. Bowler magazine will be electronic publication next year, but good to hear that U.S. Youth Bowler will continue to be mailed to homes.

    During the convention I must have heard 100 times that the youth are the future of bowling. I have been hearing that same battle cry since 1957 and obviously the bowling industry has not been able to count on America's youth for growth since in the early 1980s.

    If you like bread pudding, I urge you to eat a meal in the Eldorado buffet during the remainder of the 2010 tournament or the 2011 event. I have told my friends for years that the best bread pudding in America was served at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas. No longer, the Eldorado's bread pudding is the new king.

    The BPAA Coaches committee held a conference call on April 21 and then voted on who would be inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame June 28 during Bowl Expo in Las Vegas. On that same day (April 21) John Jowdy turned 90 years young. BPAA President Jim Sturm called him with the good news a few days later.

    John may have been the proudest man at the USBC Convention in Reno.

    The graphics at the convention was exceptionally good, and I give credit to Cary Richmond and his BPAA crew who has been doing graphic marvels at Bowl Expo for years.

    I trust you know that I don't expect you to have trust in everything I have written in this column.

    After all, it is only my opinion and sometimes I second guess (drinking rule is an example) my own original opinion...like in the USBC's new drinking rule at the USBC Open Tournament here in Reno.