If the PBA folds, does it really matter? by James Goulding III

If the PBA folds, does it really matter?
by James Goulding III

 

This has been a subject that I had hoped to never write about, and that is the VERY real possibility that we are seeing the last days of the Professional Bowler’s Association (PBA) as we know it.  With the recent confirmation that the tour stop in Medford was cancelled due to lack of sponsorship dollars and the hard economy, it brings once again to the forefront the possibility that the PBA may not last another season.  I wonder, though, how many bowlers out there even care if the PBA exists?  How many recreational bowlers have even HEARD of the PBA, nevermind catch a show on Sunday afternoon.  Either way, I feel the if the PBA folds, it would be very bad for the long-term future of bowling as a competitive sport.

For one, there are far-reaching ramifications for the economy if there is no PBA.  From bowling ball sales that would suffer because the players wouldn’t be visible to promote them on TV every week, to bowling shoes and accessories, there are MANY companies that make those products who stand to lose business from the lack of product recognition that the PBA tour provides every week.  Also, the network stands to lose viewers who tune in to the PBA each and every Sunday, as well as losing the money that the PBA pays for the airtime.  There would be many professional players looking for jobs, which adds to the unemployment numbers, and hurts the economy.  Also, think about all the people on staff for the ball companies, coaches, ball rep’s, ball drillers, etc. that would be out of work if the PBA closed it’s doors.  Like I said, there are very many factors outside of the fact that we  (as bowlers) like to see the best players in the world compete week in and week out.

There are a few hurdles that hurt the PBA and it’s prize funds.  One of them is the fact that the PBA pays for its airtime.  Many other sports get paid by the network(s) to have their games broadcast at certain times.  The PBA pays ESPN, CBS, whomever, to air the telecast every week.  Plus, the rate that the PBA gets money for commercial time from sponsors, is lower than any other professional sports organization.  It’s even lower than what hockey gets, and for a sport like bowling that is THE highest participation sport in the U.S., that is just unacceptable.  The PBA has been branded as an organization that just doesn’t sell, for whatever that reason is, I don’t know, it just is.  There needs to be a complete re-evaluation of what and how the PBA is marketed, who it gets marketed to, and how to more efficiently use the dollars that the PBA gets to turn it into a viable product for the consumer to view.

I also feel that the time slot the PBA gets shoved into hurts the product, and BADLY.  The NFL is the most watched sporting event week in and week out, hands down.  To have the PBA on at a time where most of america would rather watch the NFL at 1 or 2 PM on a Sunday afternoon is committing Nielsen ratings suicide.  I feel that the PBA (since it pays for its airtime anyway) should try and get the tour either back in its original Saturday afternoon spot (which would compete with college football), or, try and get into a weeknight spot, like a Monday or Tuesday night.  I think that Tuesday would be the perfect spot, especially if the PBA could get into a 7 PM slot, before the prime time shows begin.  They could avoid the NFL altogether, plus maybe pull in some new viewers who may tune into their favorite shows early and catch the telecast.  Those are just a few ideas, but at this point I feel that anything is worth a try.

Lastly, the PBA (if it survives) needs to find a way to creat revenue and get the prize funds respectable for the best players in the world.  There are tournaments now that pay the same for 1st place as they did 20 years ago, and that is just unacceptable.  If the PBA could find a way to get prized funds to the point where 1st place pays consistently 50,000 (+), many more people may be interested in checking out the telecast, and there would be more buzz around each tournament stop.  It could also bring in more money to the TQR by creating an environment that would  make more sense for those players to drop some cash to compete for a chance to make a bigger pay-day.  This is where the USBC could step in, which I think would be a good idea.  For years, the USBC has been cutting down on awards without decreasing costs.  I would like to see the USBC commit $1 from every member that certifies, and put that money into the PBA prize fund directly.  That could add millions to the prize fund, and make the PBA a marketable and viable organization again.  I know as a USBC sanctioned bowler myself, this is one thing the USBC could do to give back to bowling, and at the cost of only $1 more, I wouldn’t even notice the cost difference out of my pocket.

Those are a few of my thoughts on the PBA, and my hope that it will continue to thrive and survive this tough economic time.  There is no better honor than to be considered one of the elite athletes of your sport, and the PBA players are no different in that aspect.  They deserve to be recognized and paid on a level more consistent with the best in other sports.  It would be a great travesty if the PBA had to fold, and have devastating effect not only on the economy but on amateur and professional bowling as a whole.  If there are no heros left to look up to, than where do we look?

As always, the opinions expressed in this blog entry are my own, and in no way reflect the opinion of the MSUSBC or their members.  Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment on anything you read here today.  Take care!!!

-James Goulding III

www.lausbca.org

www.msusbc-maine.org

Advertisements

8 responses to “If the PBA folds, does it really matter? by James Goulding III

  1. thePBA/ESPN is killing itself. I am tired of watching partial matches that get interrupted by commercials and you miss 3 frames. Last week the even did it in the final match. I f they treat themselves like a 2nd class event why should any one else care?

    • I agree with that Wayne, except for the part of nobody else needing to care. I feel that ESPN is the one dictating to the PBA when and how the show needs to go, and fit it into the time slot alotted. This is why I would like to see the PBA go to a different time slot, possibly a different network altogether, one that might not be competing witrh NFL viewers, so the network might let them have a little more leash. If the show went to 2 hours instead of 1.5 hours, they could fit the whole thing in no problem. With money kicked in from the USBC they could make that happen every week (which I outlined earlier in my main text). I see no problem putting the telecast on a Tuesday night from 7-9 PM, or even Monday night for that matter, since the NFL doesn’t kick off until 9 PM anyway.

      I would just like to see the PBA explore other possibilities rather than trying the same old methods each season, which is obviously not working. They are headed down a slippery slope, and a drastic change is needed in philosophy, or the PBA will be no more. I, for one, do not want to see that happen, but it will take a combined effort of the PBA and USBC (in my opinion) to salvage the tour. I think it is still worth it, because the best bowlers in the world deserve a chance to show their talent just like any other sport. Thanks for the comment Wayne, take care!!

  2. James,
    I agree with you. I have been working as coordinator and coach to get bowling as a varsity sport for Maine High Schools for the better part of 8 years. I have been using the approach that there is college opportunities then professional. If the PBA ceases, then what do the colleges do? When the colleges start to slow down, what do the high schools do?

    I agree with Wayne. Commercials in the middle of matches and then come back to while you were away this is what happened. I realize the PBA probably doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on to force the issue, but what happens when they let that leg is lopped off?

    Whether anyone realizes it or not, the success of the PBA is vital to the sport of bowling as a sport, rather than a recreational activity.

  3. James, I have just read your article and was horrified. I live in England and this year the first since 1990 we have had the PBA matches over here on satalite/cable tv and thankfully I have managed to watch most of them. The very last match over here is to be shown on 3rd December. The impression has been that everything is rosie regards the PBA but your comments show the reality of the situation.

    I agree with some of the comments made by yourself, Wayne, and Ed however that means not a lot. The womans tour folded, ive not heard of seniors for many years so we must do something to keep the PBA tour alive, it cannot be allowed to wither and die on its vine.

    First thing to say is that we do not live in the past we can learn from the past but we cannot copy it.
    As it was stated move the tv time slot must be a priority

    Questions. How many people watch bowling in the states?, How expensive is it to play, Do many teens go bowling? Is bowling promoted in schools and colleges, What age is a typical audience for watching PBA?

    Changing times, formats, is one way but a lot of heavy promotional work by the PBA bowlers themselves could also help as I believe the more they are seen then the more they will want to be seen.

    The PBA should be promoted better abroad in europe where I think it would have a great reception, they could even hold a mini season over here say 10 matches over 10m weeks in 10 countries and with the right people involved it could be televised for here and for the USA.

    Revenue.
    They could sell the tv recordings ( many years ago I telephoned and spoke to the Boss of the PBA at his head office and ask to but some tv recordings but he said no he could not sell them.
    WHY???
    I did also phone the ladies tour head office who did sell me some tapes, they just asked how many did I want.
    Why not a tie in with AMF to sell PBA, recordings, merchandise, shoes, balls and equipment etc.

    Good luck to the PBA and lets hope that things can be improved.

    Mike in England

  4. Your blogs are great, thanks!

    It is too bad about PBA but it is not unlike many sports on TV. I think Figure Skating, Tennis are on the decline for example. Baseball popularity was really down in the 90s until McGwire hit all the home runs.

    Bowling is very repetitive , especially the pros who can repeat shots, in fact that is the name of the game, to repeat shots. That is not a good entertainment factor.

    It is hard to appreciate the difficulty of what the pros do unless you try it yourself and take it seriously.

    I renewed interest in sports when fantasy sports became popular. I was able to do some judging of talent and get rewarded. Horse racing is popular because the racing fan can spend their time judging the competitors and rewarding themselves with the right pick.

    The PBA should proactively sell their bowlers to the general public. Buy shares in Norm Duke, Walter Ray Williams, etc and get rewarded with proceeds from their finishes. The bowlers and PBA get their share of the investment.

    More analysis of the bowlers style. I would really like to know how to bowl like that Auto Worker whose made telecasts this fall, and cheats on the thumbhole. Can I relate! I can’t hook the ball after 40 years of trying with the thumb in the ball 🙂

  5. Simple answer that someone above eluded to; change the network. Anyone ever hear of the Versus Network? I’ve been watching the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) on that network for years now. If they can do it with the PBR, they can certainly do it with the PBA.

  6. JIM, I HAVE A FEW THOUGHTS AND GRIPES ON BOWLING,BOTH
    PRO AND AMATEUR. I’M IN MY MID 60’s AND FOR HEALTH REASONS NO LONGER BOWL. I STARTED BOWLING AT AGE 14 AND FELL IN
    LOVE WITH IT. MY HIGH SCHOOL HAD A BOWLING LEAGUE. I
    BOWLED IN THE LEAGUE FOR ALL THREE YEARS AS WELL AS ON THE SCHOOL’S TRAVELING MATCH TEAM. I ALSO BOWLED ON ONE OF
    THE LOCAL LANES TRAVELING MATCH TEAM. AT AGE 19 I WORKED
    FOR A YEAR IN A LOCAL HOUSE WITH 48 LANES. AT MY PEAK, I WAS BOWLING ABOUT 125 LINES A WEEK AND AVERAGING LOW
    190’s WITH A RUBBER AND THEN LATER PLASTIC BALL.
    THESE DAYS, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE WEALTHY TO BOWL LIKE THAT. WHEN I HAD TO PAY FOR MY PRACTICE LINES, THEY WERE $.35 CENTS, AND NEVER OVER $.50 CENTS. I DID MUCH OF THE PRACTICE FROM 5 AM–9 AM USING A PAIR OF LANES. COST? $2.00.
    A NEW BALL COST 29.99 FOR MOST, AND $35.00 FOR PLASTIC.
    LOCALLY, WE HAVE GONE FROM A HIGH POINT OF 14 HOUSES
    DOWN TO 4 . THEY WERE ALL WITHIN ABOUT 15 MILES.
    BOWLING IS SUFFERING, THUS THE PROS, BECAUSE IT HAS PRICED ITSELF OUT OF MANY PEOPLE’S BUDGET. TO BE A SERIOUS
    BOWLER THESE DAYS IT TAKES AT LEAST 2 BALLS . COST? $100ea
    MINIMUM. TO BOWL A PRACTICE LINE HERE COSTS, ON AVERAGE,
    $3.50. KIDS CAN’T AFFORD THAT AND NEITHER CAN THEIR PARENTS. THIS IS ACTUALLY THE SECOND GENERATION THAT HAS BEEN PRICED OUT OF BECOMING A SERIOUS BOWLER. LEAGUE BOWLING IS AT LEAST THIS EXPENSIVE WITH PRIZE MONEY AND ROUNDS OF DRINKS. ANOTHER BOWLING SPORT THA IS AT DEATH’S DOOR IS DUCKPINS. WHAT A SHAME!
    THERE’S MUCH MORE TO SAY, BUT I’LL SAVE IT FOR ANOTHER DAY. THE REASON FOR THE DECLINE IN BOWLING—GREED !!!

  7. open bowling costs 2to3dollars- average balls cost80to100dollars_average 16- 20 dollarsfora34to 36 Week season and thats if you bowl only 1 time a week just think about 3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s