Team Captain Authority

Team Captain Authority by Ed Cotter


I put together a team and set some rules. You are all at the top of your game. Other bowlers look up to you. Be a good sport even when you aren’t bowling well. No kicking the ball return, no swearing, no dropping bowling balls or throwing wrist supports. After 3 warnings you’ll be sent home. On the first night of league, one bowler said, ‘You send me home and I’m not coming back.’ So much for captain’s authority.


How does USBC define captain’s authority/responsibility?  USBC Rule 104a defines the team captain’s authority.  You can review this rule at under Rules.  USBC Rule 104a.1., the team captain is responsible for roster member’s eligibility per USBC and league rules.  USBC Rule 104a.3., the team captain is responsible for the team conduct and attendance, as well as permanently removing a player from the roster.


What if your team doesn’t play by the rules they agreed to when joining the team?  Based on how USBC defines the team captain’s authority under Rule 104a.3., the team captain can remove bowlers from the team’s roster for not following the agreed upon team standards.  USBC has one caveat to this.  If requested, the team captain must provide written justification for the dismissal.  Having agreed upon team rules and the team member not following them is justification for dismissal.  Dismissing a team member because you want to replace them with someone else is not justification.


What is good sportsmanship?  Good sportsmanship is supporting your team members through thick and thin.  Being patient and understanding when team members are struggling.  No one comes to bowling wanting to bowl bad and hurt the team.  Congratulating your team members and the other team’s members on their accomplishments.  Creating and continuing a positive environment is the best way to keep a good bowling night going.  If you would like others to congratulate you on your accomplishments, you need to congratulate others on theirs.  There is nothing worse than bowling a good game, maybe a personal high, and having other bowlers complain about.


Should higher-average bowlers be held to a higher standard?  Everyone should be held to the same standard.  Just because you are lower average bowler does not mean you can bend the rules any more than a higher average bowler.  USBC does not develop rules based on average.  With that said, it is my belief that it is the higher average bowlers’ responsibility to display the desired bowling etiquette for the lower average bowlers.


What effect does poor sportsmanship have on teammates and the other team?  Poor sportsmanship is a cancer.  It can wear on everyone’s, team members and opponents, patience.  If you have a member that just berates everything, it tends to alienate them.  Everyone around will be ready for the night to be over so they can get away from them.  This distracts bowlers, even the best of bowlers, and negatively impacts their ability to concentrate on bowling.  You are struggling, add a poor sport, and you have a recipe for a night to forget.


What’s the best way to handle a bowler who is not being a good sport?  Based on the scenario above, how to handle this has been defined and agreed upon by the team.  For teams that did not define this ahead of time, if the offender is on your team, talk to them.  Try to be supportive ad understanding.  Frustration can do different things to people at different times.  If they are on the other team, talk to the team captain.  If that does not help, talk to the league president, league secretary, or sergeant-of-arms (if your league has one).  I try to use the three strikes philosophy as outlined in the scenario.


Final thoughts:  It easy to find teammates that have fun together when the team is winning and everyone is bowling well.  Finding teammates that can tolerate each other when they are not bowling well and the team is losing is challenging at best.  Thankfully, I have such a team.  There are nights we do not bowl well and we still manage to find a bright spot somewhere to have fun with.  Those are the teams that make it worthwhile to go bowling.


Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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