Equal Opportunity in Tournament Participation by Ed Cotter

Equal Opportunity in Tournament Participation by Ed Cotter

 

I have a thought concerning tournaments.  I’m curious what others have to say.  This is strictly my opinion and not the opinion of USBC or any associations.

 

Here’s some of what I’m hearing and agree with.  The current association tournament requirements discriminate against men.  Here’s why I come to and support this conclusion.  Each association is required to hold a youth, women, and open tournaments.

 

Per USBC rules, if you are a youth girl you have opportunity to bowl the youth tournament and singles in the women and open.  If you’re a youth boy you can bowl the youth tournament and singles in the open.  If you’re a woman you can bowl in the women and open tournaments.  If you’re a man you can only bowl the open.  That’s three tournament opportunities for a youth girl, 2 tournament opportunities for a youth boy or a woman, while a man has only 1 opportunity.

 

Isn’t time for the participation balance to be adjusted a little to provide ALL bowlers, REGARDLESS OF SEX the same number of tournament opportunities?

 

My thought is dropping the requirement for a woman’s tournament and revamping the Open format to have women, men and mixed divisions.  Our youth tournament is run this way.  There’s a girls, boys, and mixed divisions.  Youth would still have 2 tournament opportunities, singles only in the adult tournament.  Women and men would have the same.

 

After conducting association tournaments I have watched women’s participation slowly dwindle and the open dwindling a little less than the women’s.  Those women that did participate, some had their husbands there.   I think combining and revamping the tournament structure might increase turnout and allow greater opportunities for non-traditional teams and doubles.  There could be a mixed singles division.

 

Granted I don’t have the finer details worked out, but am confident the revamped format would work and has the potential to increase tournament participation.

 

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7 responses to “Equal Opportunity in Tournament Participation by Ed Cotter

  1. I agree with you totally, especially since the ABC, WIBC and YABA have all been rolled into the USBC. Besides, it would be one less tournament, and as a parent of 3 youth bowlers I personally am tired of youth bowlers being treated as second-class citizens- their leagues get bumped by the tournaments all the time. Try pre-empting a Monday or Thursday night mens league and see what kind of reaction you get!!

    Not wanting to be totally negative, how about either pushing the start time on Saturday to Noon and starting youth league at 9, or else arrange for the youth bowlers to bowl in the house down the road during the open?

  2. I am going to look at this issue from a variety of different perspectives. I may even go off onto a couple of tangents at the same time, at times my thoughts ramble.

    While I agree that the Women have more opportunities to compete in Events than the Men do, I do not necessarily think that eliminating the Women’s Tournament and revamping the Open Tournament is the best solution. My Local association did this exact thing when our associations merged, last year we had One Tournament, with 3 Divisions, Men, Womens, and Mixed. This year they have done away with the mixed division. Now granted this is a local tournament and on a much smaller scale than the State Level Events. However, Women’s Participation has dropped since our Association has done this. I believe the reason is as simple as some women do not like to bowl with men, not that they are bowling against them, they simply do not want to bowl with them period.

    I think that the Women do have more opportunities to compete, however I do not think necessarily that this is a bad thing. I think that doing away with a Woman’s Only event will simple alienate some women who do not wish to bowl with men. I think that if women want to compete with Men in the Open Tournament that this tournament should not be revamped in any way, we should not make special divisions for women or mixed events, this will only take the prize fund dollars away from the current event structure. Thus, lessening the prize fund that the Men get to compete for in the Open Tournament. I would actually love to see MORE Women compete in the Open Event, this would increase the prize funds of that event.

    Now the backside of that argument (which I don’t necessarily completely agree with) is that Women want to be treated as equals then treat them as equals. In this frame of mind, you would simply just do away with women’s events all together. One tournament, men & women competing with and against each other, no womens division, no mixed division, just scratch and handicap. My Local association has taken this thought to the extreme in it local awards program, we have a plaque displayed in our bowling center which highlights every 300 Game and Every 800 Series bowled by men in the center. This was started many years ago when is was ABC & WIBC, when the Associations merged, my Local Association would not honor Women’s who accomplished the feat of Bowling a 700 Series (Honored within the Local WIBC Assocation Prior to the Merge) – accomplished far less times actually in my association than 800’s for Men.

    As far as opportunities for Men to Compete, perhaps someone (I may consider putting something together myself) should formulate a Maine Mixed Tournament, I think some local Associations have tried something like this but because it was not marketed well enough, or endorsed by the State Association, may not have gotten a good enough response to keep it going, something like this could be held in January every year over 2 or 3 weekends. (Local Association Tourneys are usually in February, and State Events Currently in March, April, & May). This would provide another venue for competition.

    In Conclusion I do not think in this instance that “LESS IS MORE” is going to promote Bowling in this State. As I have said in other responses, we need to do as much promotion as we can and it starts with our YOUTH Programs. Our Local & State Associations need to take a Promote BOWLING approach to serving on our Local & State Associations. Too many times our Local and State boards are SELF-SERVING, let us please remember that if you are a member of a Local or State Association you are there to serve the BOWLERS not yourself. I have seen, especially in my Local Association where things are done only for the purpose of satisfying someone’s personal agenda or personal vendetta. As Association Officials whether Local or State, your JOB is to PROMOTE Bowling, Serve the BOWLERS of the Association you represent, and finally to do so with is utmost dignity and respect, for yourself, those bowlers you represent, and the GAME of BOWLING itself.

  3. In reponse to AL’s comments. Please let’s be clear, that when the Open Tournament is held in Brunswick this year, the YOUTH Program is NOT being Bumped by the Open Tournament, the Saturday 9am Squad is Limited to the Numbers of Lanes Available. The YOUTH League will still be bowling at their regularly schedule Saturday 9am time slot.

    I agree with Al the Youth Leagues should not be bumped by the Open Tournament, or any other Association Sponsored Event. The Individual Bowling Center Management has complete control over other Events it allows to Bump your Youth Leagues. And Personally if they are allowing that then they are in my opinion, simply wrong. Granted they make a few extra Dollars that day, but our YOUTH Programs are the Future of our sport.

    • David and Al,
      Thank you for your input, it’s greatly appreciated.

      Al,
      Bumping youth has been and still is an issue. This is something that can be discussed to ensure more Saturday mornings are for youth to bowl rather than being pre-empted by tournaments.

      David,
      It’s disappointing that the women’s participation continues to dwindle for your association. Our bowlers may have a different perspective on this. The ones I have spoken to seem to think combining isn’t a bad idea and may increase participation.

      Granted I’m trying to look at this from both sides of the fence, as a bowler and tournament manager. The suggestion is to decrease the amount of volunteer time required to run our association tournaments as well as hopefully increasing bowler participation. I whole-heartedly agree that if participation doesn’t increase then it should be scrapped and return to the original format.

      You mention that this will alienate women, but what about the men who don’t bowl because women bowl in the Open. Playing devils advocate, why do the women get a woman’s only tournament and the men don’t? I know why ABC opened the tournament to women. They were looking at revenue. Allowing women to participate meant women had to buy a second card, an ABC card, which meant increased revenue. There may be others that disagree, but that’s my opinion. When the associations merged the policy was carried forward.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for chivalry but I’m also for fairness. What we do for one bowler we should do for ALL bowlers. The associations, local, state and national are here for ALL bowlers without bias to sex or age.

      I agree that creating one tournament that has only handicap and scratch without regard for sex will alienate some of the bowlers.

      In regards to honoring scores, the bowling centers within my association honor all 300 games, 800 series and 700 series by women. The association posts this information on our website also.

      Your conclusion about communication is a thorn that I agree and feel is very broken. I send e-mails and letters to league secretaries and presidents with plenty of bowling and tournament information. I still have bowlers asking about information that was contained in the e-mail, letters, and on the website. The problem, as I see it, is we are too passive in our search for information. We want people to tell us what is going and not put forth the effort to find the information ourselves. It’s this passivity that is killing our sport. I spend countless hours trying to track down and post information for our association bowlers as well as everyone in the state. I can lead horses to water but can’t make them drink. Bowlers need to actively search out information. State and local association officials need to actively pass along information in hopes that communication will become two-way again.

      I can tell you with the utmost certainty that my association board is here to serve our bowlers. The problem is if the bowlers are not going to actively talk to us or provide feedback when requested, the board can only make decisions as best we can. I’m not a mind reader, nor do I want to be. We can’t evaluate, discuss or implement changes if there is no information from bowers that they desire a particular change.

      Effective communication requires a sender, a message, a receiver, and feedback. If the receiver provides no feedback, how do you proceed with changes? That’s what I’m hoping will happen with this blog. Topics will be posted and we’ll have comments and dialog. What I call feedback. Associations have a difficult task of changing things to what bowlers would like if there is no input from the bowlers as to what they would like see changed.

  4. I agree that at the local level a combined tournament is not a bad idea. Its small enough to manage effectively, and does not require someone running two smaller tournaments. I would not want to see this in the State Level Events. For a couple of reasons, first would be the sheer size of it, it would be more difficult to manage, our associations have a difficult enough time managing the Open Tournament, let alone if it were to say get 40-50% bigger. Secondly, Because you would only be taking away from the Prize Fund Dollars that are generated from the Women who currently bowl. Those Dollars would go into a division that the Men would not be competing for. As far as the argument of Men who don’t bowl in the Open Tournament because Women can compete. I think of this along the same lines as why some women don’t bowl in our local association tournament where it is combined; they simply don’t want to bowl with men. I think the opposite is true as well, the same Men that do not bowl now because Women are allowed, would continue to not Bowl if things were combined, because women would still be bowling. We saw this first hand a couple of Years ago on our Tuesday Night League, the League voted to allow Women to bowl, there were a few Male bowlers who were simply outraged at this. Team Captains and League Officers voted (23-5 in favor of Women Bowling) but there were individuals who vowed to quit, we did not loose any teams but certainly lost a couple of bowlers. I am all for allowing Women to bowl against the Men if they choose to do so. Remember this is coming from me, who lost the State Tournament All-Events Title to Ruth Stokes the first year Women were allowed to bowl. It increases the prize fund, it increase participation, it makes for a bigger and better Tournament. How can we not want that. I am not a bowler in the EMUSBC, However, I am happy to hear that the Eastern Maine Association feels that they are serving their Bowlers well. I would encourage you to take that message to your Bowlers, and ask them how you are doing, hopefully all the responses will be good. I will give you a very pointed example of the different between EMUSBC and my Association. it’s as simple as look at the websites for each. EMUSBC is a gambit of information for the association and its bowlers, posting things about Bowling in general, tournaments in other areas, etc etc. Then look at the MRUSBC web-site, our bowlers can’t even view the minutes of meeting our association has had, most of the links go to NOTHING, the league link only provides information on the Leagues run by the guy who manages the site. No Tournament info except for those tourneys run in our center, last year the state tourney info was not posted on out local association site. This is one instance were Bowlers in our association feel that our Board is Self-Serving. Another would be go to a monthly meeting, the agenda is there, but the only real objective at any of these meetings is to be done by 6:45 because the Officers have to bowl at 7. But don’t have the meeting on a different night were there is plenty of time to discuss issues, because then those same officers would have to come to the lanes on a night they are not already there, again Self-Serving. EMUSBC Bowlers should be very thankful that they have a group of people as their representative who seem to truly care about promoting the sport, and serving its bowlers. Congratulations, Well Done.

  5. I agree that at the local level a combined tournament is not a bad idea. Its small enough to manage effectively, and does not require someone running two smaller tournaments. I would not want to see this in the State Level Events. For a couple of reasons, first would be the sheer size of it, it would be more difficult to manage, our associations have a difficult enough time managing the Open Tournament, let alone if it were to say get 40-50% bigger. Secondly, Because you would only be taking away from the Prize Fund Dollars that are generated from the Women who currently bowl. Those Dollars would go into a division that the Men would not be competing for. As far as the argument of Men who don’t bowl in the Open Tournament because Women can compete. I think of this along the same lines as why some women don’t bowl in our local association tournament where it is combined; “they simply don’t want to bowl with men.” I think the opposite is true as well, the same Men that do not bowl now because Women are allowed, would continue to not Bowl if things were combined, because women would still be bowling. We saw this first hand a couple of Years ago on our Tuesday Night League, the League voted to allow Women to bowl, there were a few Male bowlers who were simply outraged at this. Team Captains and League Officers voted (23-5 in favor of Women Bowling) but there were individuals who vowed to quit, we did not loose any teams but certainly lost a couple of bowlers. I am all for allowing Women to bowl against the Men if they choose to do so. Remember this is coming from me, who lost the State Tournament All-Events Title to Ruth Stokes the first year Women were allowed to bowl. It increases the prize fund, it increase participation, it makes for a bigger and better Tournament. How can we not want that. I am not a bowler in the EMUSBC, However, I am happy to hear that the Eastern Maine Association feels that they are serving their Bowlers well. I would encourage you to take that message to your Bowlers, and ask them how you are doing, hopefully all the responses will be good. I will give you a very pointed example of the different between EMUSBC and my Association. it’s as simple as look at the websites for each. EMUSBC is a gambit of information for the association and its bowlers, posting things about Bowling in general, tournaments in other areas, etc etc. Then look at the MRUSBC web-site, our bowlers can’t even view the minutes of meeting our association has had, most of the links go to NOTHING, the league link only provides information on the Leagues run by the guy who manages the site. No Tournament info except for those tourneys run in our center, last year the state tourney info was not posted on out local association site. This is one instance were Bowlers in our association feel that our Board is Self-Serving. Another would be go to a monthly meeting, the agenda is there, but the only real objective at any of these meetings is to be done by 6:45 because the Officers have to bowl at 7. But don’t have the meeting on a different night were there is plenty of time to discuss issues, because then those same officers would have to come to the lanes on a night they are not already there, again Self-Serving. EMUSBC Bowlers should be very thankful that they have a group of people as their representative who seem to truly care about promoting the sport, and serving its bowlers. Congratulations, Well Done.

  6. Point of Reference – USBC requires merged associations conduct 3 tournaments – Open, Women’s & Youth. Here’s the part that most of us aren’t aware of: “If state public accommodation laws allow, the association may offer a men’s only and a women’s only championship tournament rather than the open tournament. USBC will not be responsible for any consequences resulting from actions of any association that does not comply with state laws. … Contact an attorney for more information on public accommodation laws and advice on what specific practices are permitted in your state.”

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