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Bowling: An Olympic “Sport”? by James Goulding III

Bowling:  An Olympic “Sport”?

by James Goulding III

 Hello everyone, and a Happy Valentine’s Day to all.  Watching the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics the other night got me thinking again about two of the more heated debates that surround bowling.  The first one is, is bowling a game or a sport?  This has been debated many times, but I am going to try to go “by the book” so to speak for my definition of bowling later in this blog entry.  The second heated discussion about bowling centers around the Olympics, and whether or not bowling should be an Olympic event.  I think we first have to come to  solid footing on the first question about bowling being a sport or not, before we can even think about the Olympics as it applies to bowling.  So, I am going to break this down and hopefully come up with some ideas for people to think about when it comes to bowling, it’s standing in the sports community, and the Olympics, all tied up into a blog post.

 

SPORT VS. GAME

To delve into this debate, I  enlisted the services of Merriam Webster online at www.merriam-webster.com.  Here is the definition of game: “activity engaged in for diversion or amusement”.  I would say that the argument could certainly be made that bowling most certainly qualifies as a game, at the VERY least.  This holds true for open bowling, and league bowling, but how about the serious tournament bowler who is out to win?  Let me now give you the definition of a sport: ” physical activity engaged in for pleasure”.  The only difference between a sport and a game is that a sport requires “physical” activity, instead of just “activity”.  Now, it does not mention what degree of physical activity is required to call something a sport, only that some form of physical activity is required for a game to be called a sport.  For example, Monopoly is a game, because it requires no physical activity to play, but water polo is a sport because of the physical activity required to play it.  To me, this means that bowling should be called a sport and not a game.  D0es bowling require as much physical activity as, say, playing basketball?  No, of course not, but it DOES require some form of physical activity to throw a bowling ball, and by definition it should be classified as a sport. 

So, now I can get into the Olympic debate.  It would make no sense to even try to classify bowling as a possible Olympic event if you couldn’t even classify it as a sport.  But, if you go by the strict definition of the term “sport”, bowling does qualify, and now I can make the case for it to be included as an Olympic event.

 

BOWLING IN THE OLYMPICS

This has been a long debated subject, but to me, up until now bowling should NOT have ever been considered for the Olympics.  I know what you’re going to say, I just made the point that bowling is a sport and not a game, so why am I against it being an Olympic event?  To be honest, bowling isn’t organized enough to become an Olympic event.  Bowling needs three things, in my opinion, to be considered for the Olympics:  A unified governing body for bowling, a standardized set of rules covering the sport, and strict guidelines for lane conditions and bowling ball specifications.  Let me get into each of those three points separately, as each is vital to getting bowling into the Olympics.

The unified governing body for the sport is key to Olympic consideration.  If bowling wants to be taken seriously, then there should be one entity that makes up all the rules, regulations, and awards programs for bowling, so that no matter what continent you bowl on, you can rest assured that you are on a level playing field with someone who may be bowling halfway across the world from you.  This governing body, which I would like to see called the International Bowling Federation, or IBF, can pool together all the different ways the sport of bowling is played in different countries, and come up with guidelines that everyone has to follow.  Now, I would also like to see continental control through smaller sibling organizations to the parent organization, which is the IBF.  There could be the following groups that make sure rules are followed on a more localized level, and report back to the IBF:

North American Bowling Congress (NABC)

Central American Bowling Congress (CABC)

South American Bowling Congress (SABC)

African Nations Bowling Congress (ANBC )

European Bowling Congress (EBC)

Asian  Bowling Congress (ABC)

Australian Regional Bowling Congress (ARBC)

Middle Eastern Bowling Congress (MEBC)

These subsidiaries of the parent IBF would be able to more easily distribute awards, and make sure rules are followed in each region.  You will still have your local associations like you have now, but there would be more strict international guidelines to follow so that if a bowler moves to the United States from Iraq, that person knows they are still bowling under the same rules and regulations they bowled in back in Iraq.  This would be a BIG step forward for bowling as an Olympic sport, as it shows unity and consistency for the sport worldwide, which is key for ALL Olympic sports.

Now that I have covered the governing body, and the need for standardized rules for the sport of bowling, I will show where lane and bowling equipment specifications are the final key to the Olympic puzzle for bowling.  One problem facing bowling throughout the years is that you can bowl in one bowling center, and then move to the next bowling center, and the lane conditions are COMPLETELY different.  Sometimes it is like night and day.  Opponents of Olympic bowling sight this as THE reason bowling will never be an Olympic sport.  It is just too hard to regulate lane conditions.  Maybe so, but there has never been an international body like the IBF that I suggested to oversee the sport of bowling and make sure the local center comply with international guidelines to keep their sanctioned status.  The IBF could expand upon the red, white, and blue oil condition program that the current USBC is trying to implement.  Basically this program has three oil pattern going from easier to more difficult.  The first oil pattern would be used for your recreational bowling, and the second oil pattern would cover all sanctioned league bowling.  The third oil pattern would be for tournament bowling, and would be used everywhere there is sanctioned tournament bowling.  This would show the Olympic community that no matter where you bowl, depending upon what type of bowling you are doing (recreational, league, or tournament), you would always be bowling on the exact same lane conditions as a person doing the same thing on the other side of the planet.  The local and continental associations would be responsible for compliance with the lane condition regulations, and report back to the IBF for final sanctioning of bowling centers, leagues, and tournaments.  If you want to learn more about the current red, white, and blue lane condition program by the USBC, go to www.bowl.com and type in “red, white, and blue” under search, it is very good info, and a good step forward for the sport of bowling.

Lastly, bowling ball specifications and lane inspections would have to fall under a “one size fits all” definition for bowling to be considered an Olympic event.  You can’t have one country allow different ending bowling ball statics, ball hardness, or lane length and width (for example) from another country.  The IBF would have to come up with a blueprint for EVERY country that sanctions with the IBF to follow, or else they lose their sanctioning status.  This is no different than what we do now in the United States with the USBC and their equipment specifications, it would just be amped up on a global scale to cover ALL countries and ALL bowlers who sanction.  If this can get done, there would be no other reason to exclude bowling as an Olympic sport.  Bowling would have a unified governing body, standardized rules for EVERYONE who sanctions, and strict equipment and lane specifications for every sanctioned bowling center to follow.  I have felt that, up to now, bowling should not have been considered for the Olympics.  But, if the sport wants that kind of status, I think the guidelines I have outlined could be done so that bowling is on par with other international sports.  Bowling is the #1 participation sport in the world, it is time we get it recognized for the great sport that it truly is, and get bowling in the Olympics!  Thank you for reading, as always the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect the opinions of the MSUSBC or any of its members.   Please feel free to comment on anything you read in the blog, and I will make sure I get back to you ASAP, thank you.

-James Goulding III

www.lausbca.org

www.msusbc-maine.org

Sport Bowling Patterns: Sanction Your League; The Do’s and Don’ts of Tough Oil Patterns! by James Goulding III

Sport Bowling Patterns: Sancti0n Your League; The Do’s and Don’ts of Tough Oil Patterns!

by James Goulding III

Hello again!  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday, and now that we gear up for more holiday tradition this month, I have a subject I would like to touch on, and that is sport bowling patterns, and how houses can use those to sharpen up league competition when done correctly.  We have all bowled on a regular “house shot”, where there is a heavy concentration of oil in the center of the lane, and it tapers down to a lighter concentration on the outside boards, usually between 39 – 42 ft. in length.  This allows a bowler to have “miss room” inside as the ball will hold pocket due to the heavy oil, and the ball will recover from the outside boards if the bowler misses there, since there is a lighter concentration of oil on those boards.  This leads to a higher scoring pace, more honor scores, and in my opinion, has been one of the factors that has led bowling down the road to fewer members (but I will save that argument for another day).  A sport pattern, in contrast, uses ratios such as 3:1 or 4:1, so that the maximum amount of difference in oil concentration from board to board can not be more than 3:1 or 4:1, or whatever ratio is being used.  Obviously, the lower the ratio (2:1) the tougher the oil pattern, since the oil will be laid across the lane pretty much “flat” so that there is about the same amount of oil inside on the 4th arrow as there is on the 1st arrow.  The higher the ratio (4:1) the more forgiving the pattern, since you can have a larger variance in the amount of oil applied to the lane from board to board, but you can still not exceed that (4:1) ratio at any time for the pattern to be “sport compliant”.  These patterns lower the scoring pace, force bowlers to become more accurate to score, and bring back spare shooting as a viable part of scoring in the game of bowling.  I feel these are the way to go for competitive leagues, and the only fair way to do it is to get the league sanctioned as sport compliant with the USBC.  No doing so, and making up oil patterns that have not been researched thoroughly and sanctioned as sport compliant by the USBC, is not the way to properly bring down the scoring pace, and I will get into that in my next section.

There are, however, examples out there of how houses try and bring down the scoring pace, but do it in a way that (I feel) does not help bowling but rather hinders it, and alienates bowlers in the process.  I bowl in a house that has said they were going to put out something very hard, which I was excited to get the chance to bowl on week in and week out.  I was looking at the lane graph thinking we would be bowling on one of the tough Kegel patterns, or maybe a PBA experience pattern, or even a sport shot, like a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio pattern.  What I saw, though, was some kind of made up oil blend “unique” to something the house had come up with to lower the scoring pace.  I still didn’t mind, because if the pattern played even from side to side, I didn’t see a problem with it.  This is where they got the first thing wrong, in my opinion.  You can not put out a pattern that is very short (37-38ft. in length), take away the outside boards, and lighten up the oil in the center of the lane, without doing the proper research on how to “build the pattern” to play consistently for righties AND lefties.  The pattern plays to somewhere near a 2:1 – 3:1 ratio.  Since the righties out number left-handed bowlers about 9:1, on a given night where you have (2) five person teams bowling against each other, you are going to have roughly 9 righties and 1 lefty.  On this particular pattern, the oil is distributed fairly even from side to side (actually there is a slightly higher concntration on the left side outside the ten board), which makes for a lopsided scoring pace as the night goes on.  All the traffic playing on the right side of the lane is able to pull some of that outside oil off, and allow the righties to create area by making dry boards for the balls to hook off of down lane.  On the left side, where there is only 1, maybe 2, on a given night, their side of the lane will NEVER open up due to the low amount of traffic moving the oil around.  What you can do to even out the scoring is to lighten up the oil on outside boards on the left side of the lane (which happens on the PBA tour, check out their patterns for reference) so that it compensates for the limited amount of bowlers who throw on that side of the lane during the night.  It seems common sense to me.  You can’t apply the same amount of oil to both sides of the lane where there are (9) people throwing on one side, and (1) throwing on the other side and expect them to score similarly, sorry that is never going to happen.

Lightening up the oil on the left side (a small amount, not making it “wide open”) should be done so that EVERY bowler, no matter what hand they throw with, has the same “look” on the lane, and you are not giving an unfair advantage to one side or the other.  You can tweak the shot until you get it right, but to this point in the season, the shot has not changed one bit, so the left side is pretty much shut out from shooting high numbers week in and week out, which is wrong  in my opinion.  I would say the same thing if it were the right side being shut out, it doesn’t matter, houses need to do their homework and make sure that if they are going to “make up” their own oil pattern, that they do it right or don’t do it at all.  There are plenty of sanctionable sport programs that can be downloaded into an oil machine that have been tested for years, so if those are out there, and a house is looking to lower the scoring pace, why not use a pattern that has been tested EXTENSIVELY and used by the USBC and PBA?  It makes no sense to me for a house to try and make up an oil pattern that you will probably never see outside of that house, ever.

Also, the fact that a house (like the one I mention) wants to put out a tough pattern is great, I love having to work hard and grind out a 200 game.  But, if you are going to do it, I say make sure you sanction the league as a sport league, and give the bowlers who throw on that tough pattern the benefits that a sport league gets.  One of those benefits is an average scale adjuster for tournaments.  This is a scale that adjusts up your average to what it would be if you were bowling on a typical house shot (THS) instead of a sport pattern.  If you do not sanction as a sport league, and put out a tough shot, *some* bowlers may see that a a chance to sandbag in my opinion.  A bowler can come in, bowl on that tough shot and average probably 20 – 30 pins lower than his (or her) normal average, but without the average slider, they can use that lower average for handicapping in tournaments and have a HUGE advantage per game over bowlers who are going in with a THS average.  You can not say they are sandbagging intentionally, but by knowing the league does not sanction sport, a person who WANTS to sandbag their average can legally do so on that type of league, which SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN!!! 

Bowling centers should not be in the business of  failing to make a league sanction as a sport league and make up their own version of a “tough shot”, which plays harder than a sport pattern.  Like I said earlier, do it right, or don’t so it at all.  Also, there are awards that are given out for sport bowling ONLY, so by sanctioning as a sport league it give bowlers something else to shoot for week in and week out.  The extra cost for a sport sanction is minimal (I believe in the $9 per year range), but by doing so you are telling your bowlers that you want to put out a tough shot, you care about their needs and wants as competitors to make the league a sport sanctioned league, and  that you are also promoting the growth of the sport through proper sanctioning.

In closing, I would like to say that any houses that are putting out so-called “tough shots” and are not sanctioning as a sport league, you are doing a dis-service not only to your bowlers, but to the entire game of bowling as a whole.  I am all for bowling on the toughest patterns out there, and have on many occasions like the Masters or U.S. Open, but a bowling center needs to get their leagues sport sanctioned, and put out patterns that play fair to everyone, not just righties OR lefties, but even for both.  Everyone should have an equal chance to score well, and be able to compete and beat someone with their skill alone.  A bowler should not be beaten by the fact that they have no chance on a certain lane condition, because the other side of the lane plays easier.   That is wrong, and should never happen in this technological age of bowling.  There are so many ways to make things fair and even, I see no excuse not to, to be honest.  The opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC, or its members.  Thank you for reading, and feel free to comment on anything I have written, open communication and dialog are the keys to success!!  Good luck and good bowling on a sport pattern in your area!

League Prize Funds – By David Charron

I have bowled in Leagues for the last 30 Years in many different Associations in Numerous States. I have also prepared Prize Fund Proposals for a majority of the leagues I have bowled on. So I pose the question, what makes a good Prize Fund?

First, the rules pertaining to League Prize Funds. Prize Funds should be presented to the league as soon as possible USBC Rules mandate by week 5. Remember a Prize Fund must have the MAJORITY vote in order to be accepted. What this means is that if you have 16 Teams and you distribute 3 Prize Lists, in order to be accepted one must receive at least 9 Votes. Otherwise, you must drop the list(s) with the least votes and re-vote on the 2 Lists which received the most votes.

Now, you’re preparing a list, what should you include. Most leagues in Maine bowl a split season. Halves, Quarters, or even Thirds. For the sake of this discussion we are going to assume your league has 16 teams and bowls a split season in 2 halves. Your prize fund should pay every team based on standings each half. And then pay the top 2 or 4 teams in a roll-off at the end of the year. Additionally you should pay Team Awards for High Series Scratch, High Series Handicap, High Game Scratch, and High Game Handicap. The awards should be of equal value, and you should pay 2 place in each so that half of the teams in this league will get some Team Award Money. Also, you will pay Individual Awards for the same, High Series Scratch, High Series Handicap, High Game Scratch, and High Game Handicap. Again these awards should be of equal Value, except I would pay 3 Places in each, so that 12 different bowlers will get individual Award Money. There will also be awards for High Average 3 Places, and Most Improved 2-3 Places. Finally, let’s talk Point Money. For those of you who don’t know what Point Money is – it is an amount of money that each team will receive for each point it wins during the regular bowling season – not including Roll-Offs. The reason to include Point Money in your prize fund is for 2 very important reasons. First Point Money will give some of the bottom teams a little extra money which is more evenly distributed than your overall league prizes, because there will just not be as much disparity between first and last place monetarily where point money is concerned. For instance is point money is worth $1 per point, then the first place team may get $160 in point money and the last place team is going to get around $75 in point money as opposed to the $600 For first and $100 for last they are also going to get. The second reason is Point Money is easily adjusted to account for variation in Actual Prize Fund Dollars at the end of the year. As you know most leagues have 50/50, which provides a unknown amount to the prize fund, and therefore you could have a “budget Shortfall or Windfall” at the end of the year, which without point money leaves you with a problem of what to do. With Point Money you have a way to easily adjust the point money to the Actual Amount in the Prize Fund at the end of the year.

Let’s Assume your League has 16 Teams and a Prize Fund of $10,000. This is exactly what I would submit for a Prize Fund

Team Place Awards

First Half                          Second Half                         Roll-Offs

1st $ 500.00                  1st $ 500.00                      1st $ 500.00

2nd $ 300.00                2nd $ 300.00                    2nd $ 300.00

3rd $ 200.00                3rd $ 200.00                     3rd $ 200.00

4th $ 175.00                4th $ 175.00                       4th $ 100.00

5th $ 150.00                5th $ 150.00                      

6th $ 125.00                6th $ 125.00

7th $ 100.00               7th $ 100.00

8th $ 100.00               8th $ 100.00

9th $ 75.00                 9th $ 75.00

10th $ 75.00              10th $ 75.00

11th $ 50.00              11th $ 50.00

12th $ 50.00             12th $ 50.00

13th $ 50.00             13th $ 50.00

14th $ 50.00             14th $ 50.00

15th $ 50.00             15th $ 50.00

16th $ 50.00             16th $ 50.00

Team Awards

High Series Scratch – High Game Scratch – High Series Handicap – High Game Handicap

1st $ 150.00  2nd $ 100.00 

Individual Awards

High Series Scratch – High Game Scratch – High Series Handicap – High Game Handicap

1st $ 100.00  2nd $ 60.00  3rd $40.00

High Average

1st $ 125.00  2nd $ 75.00  3rd $50.00

Most Improved

1st $ 75.00  2nd $ 50.00  

Point Money Estimated Point Money $0.82 Approx Per Point $ 2,525.00

Actual Point Money Adjusted to Reflect Actual Total Prize Fund

Total Prize Fund $ 10,000.00  

I hope this post has been thought provoking, I am sure Some bowler would not vote for this prize fund and others would, but it is meant to be the start of topic conversation. Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Good luck and good bowling I hope everyone is having a great Start to the Fall League Season. I’m sure I will see you on the Lanes.

League Meetings: Logic vs. Lunacy by James Goulding III

League Meetings: Logic vs. Lunacy

by James Goulding III

 

I was inspired to write this blog post from a personal experience at one of my league meetings last night.  It is the time of the year when we get together and decide what the by-laws, league dues, and any other league associated business for the season at an annual meeting.  Sometimes some great ideas come from these events, and other times (like my last one) things seem to escape the realm of logic and I am leaving the meeting scratching my head and wondering how some people can function rationally on a day to day basis.

Since bowling and golf are always being compared / associated together by bowlers (because many bowlers also golf), I am going to make a few comparisons as associated to how it ties into a few items from a league meeting.  I know that sounds kind of funny, but stick with me on this one, you won’t be sorry you did.  I am going to cover league costs, equipment costs, and then a brief summary about the whole league meeting process.

COST

At my league meeting we had a proposal to go from $14 a week to $15 a week.  While many bowlers see any increase in dues as a bad thing that just “costs more money”, I see it as a positive thing for the entire league.  Our league was going from 24 to 22 teams, which meant a slip in prize fund due to 10 less bowlers putting their $4 a week into the prize fund coffers.  This equated out to about $1300 for the season, which is a significant difference.  By going up $1 a week in dues, we could have added over $3800 to the prize fund, thus erasing the $1300 deficit and adding $2500 even with two less teams.  Seems reasonable, right?  Well, this is the point in the meeting where logic left the table, and lunacy set in. 

There was a bowler who said, and I quote, “Why do we want to go up a dollar, I am not here to make anybody rich”.  I defy anybody out there to find me a bowler who has gotten rich off a $15 a week bowling league.  It does not exist, period.  Furthermore, the money would be added to the prize fund FOR THE ENTIRE LEAGUE, NOT AN INDIVIDUAL BOWLER.  You see how the logic train is becoming de-railed?  So, here is where I get to the golf comparison for a minute.  The bowler(s) putting up the stink about league dues also happen to golf (at least many of them do).  Let’s do a quick cost comparison shall we?  Average golf dues for 18 holes run in the $30 range, and many can go as high as $100 a round, but for the sake of argument I will stick to the $30 number.  So, if you golf once a week you are paying what you would for 2 weeks of bowling.  If you golf from May-October in Maine (which is the length of the golf season here) and go once a week, your average cost is around $780.  And guess what, you get ZERO back from golfing because the money you pay in only covers your greens fees, if you want to join a golf league and try and get back any money, that will cost you more.  Your $780 investment for golf has netted you NOTHING in return.

As far as bowling goes, you bowl for 33 weeks at a cost of $15 and your total cost is $495, which is $285 LESS than the golf and you do it for a longer period of time (33 weeks compared to 26).  Also, you are going to GET MONEY BACK because you are putting $5 a week out of your $15 toward a prize fund.  Plus, the better you bowl, the more money you can get back.  Imagine that huh?  I don’t understand how the same people who will pay $30 for a round of golf, which costs MUCH more than bowling and you get NOTHING in return, can argue AGAINST going up $1 in league dues to $15 a week (or half of what a round of golf costs).  It boggles my mind.  I know, it makes too much sense, so therefore at our league meeting the motion to go from $14 to $15 a week was shot down in flames.  It was at this point I started tuning out and seeing sugar plum fairies dancing on the ceiling, because that made about as much sense as what we just voted in.

EQUIPMENT COST

So, after I removed the steak knife from my neck after the vote on league dues, I was listening to some of my fellow bowlers around me complain about equipment cost, and how they could not afford to pay $1 more for league bowling since they are going to have to buy (2) more new balls for the upcoming bowling season.  Oh boy, now the logic train is down in a canyon never to be found again I am afraid.  Let me put this into perspective again with golf, as the same people complaining about equipment and going up a WHOLE DOLLAR in league dues, are the same people who golf, and I will show how their madness has reached epic levels.

Bowling balls are expensive, I will not deny you that.  But, if you go to a reputable shop (like Moore’s Pro Shop in Lewiston, ME.) you can get into a high end ball for around $175 out the door.  So, if you are going to buy (2) new balls for the upcoming season (which is what the people in my meeting were saying for example), it will cost you roughly $350.  Now, golf clubs are a WHOLE different story.  You can spend upwards of $700 on just one club.  Lets assume “high end” for golf clubs since I was talking about “high end” for bowling equipment.  I was doing some comparison shopping, and the average retail for a good set of high end golf clubs was $2100 (this is a set of Taylor Made clubs, and not even the most expensive type they offer, either).  You can spend upwards of $4000 or more for a set of clubs easily.  If you think bowling balls are expensive, and you golf, you have ZERO credibility when you say bowling balls are too expensive to me, especially if that is part of your reasoning for not going up $1 in league dues for the upcoming season.  Basically, you could buy over 6 seasons worth of bowling equipment compared to the cost of (1) set of golf clubs.  Wow, that puts it into perspective now doesn’t it?

SUMMARY

Some positive things come out of league meetings, such as changing rules to benefit all the league bowlers, and conversing with the bowling center owner on things the league would like to see done differently.  Not all things at league meetings are bad.  But, when it comes to money, or anything associated with it, many bowlers seem to leave logic at the door, and put on their cheap skate hat no matter how much sense a proposal makes.

In closing, I would like to say that by showing the actual cost breakdown when comparing golf to bowling there is no comparison that bowling is cheaper, and offers you a chance for a return on your investment.  The reason I did this, was to show a logical way to explain it to those bowlers out there who complain that league bowling is too expensive, or the equipment costs too much, or what ever reason they want to give to BE CHEAP.  I guess being cheap for some people only extends to bowling, since the SAME PEOPLE who complain about going from $14 a week to $15 a week will shell out almost $800 for a golf season (which is 6-7 weeks shorter than a bowling season).  I hope that you can take some of this information and present it to your bowlers at you next league meeting to avoid the same fate as the meeting I attended recently.  The numbers don’t lie, and in this case it is a no brain-er that we should have gone up to $15, but hey, there’s always next year.  Take care everyone, and have a wonderful bowling season.  Please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will try and get back to you ASAP, thanks.

-James Goulding III

www.lausbca.org

www.msusbc-maine.org

New League Season Means Inventory Time: by James Goulding III

New League Season Means Inventory Time

by James Goulding III

 

Sorry about my lack of posting lately, things have been very busy at home and work, but I will try and make sure I start posting on a more frequent basis from now on.

As we approach a brand new fall league season in another month or so, I find it appropriate to discuss inventorying what is in your bowling bag, to help make sure you’re not stuck missing something at the wrong time when league comes.  I will break this down into three categories: bowling balls, shoes, and accessories.

BOWLING BALLS

I can get very technical about layouts, weights, etc., but I will keep the discussion as lamen as possible as it pertains to bowling balls in your bag.  Every bowler should have a 4-ball arsenal at their disposal to combat most conditions in a given league night (I suggest bowlers carry an 8 ball tournament arsenal, but that’s a topic for another day).  Here are the  four general categories to look for in a league arsenal:

1) High flaring, low rg., med to high diff., 2-3.5″ pin (preferably pin under), dull surface (1000 abralon or less) resin (or particle) bowling ball.  This will be your “heavy oiler” in the bag.  This ball will not get a lot of play, but when you need to use it, then you REALLY need to use it.  Pull this ball out on a flood, or when the carry down permits, you should be able to move into the lane and “open up” the oil line.

2) Medium flaring, med. rg., med. to high diff., 3.5-4.5″ pin, high sand (2000-4000 abralon) or lightly buffed surface (rough buff or equivalent) resin bowling ball.  This ball will be your “benchmark” ball, which means it can be played on the widest variety of league conditions.  You can play this ball straighter when there is more oil, or hook it a decent amount when they dry out a little.  This ball will help you determine where and when you use the other balls in your arsenal.  This is THE most important ball in your bag, so make sure it is a very good fit for your game.

3) Low flaring, medium to high rg, med. to low diff., 4.5-5.5″ pin (preferably pin over), polished or pearlized resin cover stock.  This will be your dry lane / light oil bowling ball.  When you find that your “benchmark” ball is checking up early, you can pull this piece out and continue to play a similar line to where you were playing with your previous ball.  This ball will get adequate play in your arsenal (especially if you are right handed), due to the fact that modern bowling balls tear apart the lanes rather quickly, and the shot tends to go away quicker.

4) Very low flaring (if any), high rg., low diff., polyester or pearlized urethane bowling ball.  This will primarily be your “spare” ball to shoot straight down the lane at spares, but it can also serve as a strike ball if the lane conditions become so torn up that your “dry” lane ball is hooking too much for you. 

That covers the bowling ball segment in a nutshell, so let’s move onto the next part of your bag, and that is shoes.

SHOES

There are so many different brands and types of shoes out there, I am going to focus on a few key things that bowlers should look for in a good pair of bowling shoes:

1) Durability.  You want a pair of bowling shoes that can last you a couple of seasons, so going to K-Mart to buy a $15 pair of bowling shoes is probably not the wisest choice for the serious bowler.  Those shoes are made for recreational bowlers who go bowling a few times a year and don’t want to rent house shoes, not for league bowlers who put a lot of miles on a pair of shoes every bowling season.  Basically, shoes that go in the 75 – 150 dollar range from your local pro shop will suffice, but always make sure you ask a qualified pro shop operator their advice before you purchase a pair of shoes.

2) Comfort.  I can not stress enough the need for a comfprtable pair of bowling shoes.  Make sure you find a pair that fit your feet well, or it will be a long bowling season, and an uncomfortable one at that.  Most shoe companies make “wide” versions and half-sizes so finding a comfortable pair of bowling shoes shouldn’t be a problem.

3) Interchangeable Heels / Soles.  I recommend that bowlers at least explore using a shoe that has an interchangeable sole system to combat changing approach surfaces as weather changes, and finding a shoe with changeable heels as well, is even better.  As weather changes, so do approaches, and having the ability to peel off one sole and stick on another with more or less slide capability can save damage to your knee and ankle from sticking or slipping too much, and also give you confidence that you don’t have to carry around illegal products such as EZ-slide and mess up the approach for every other bowler.  You can simply slap on another heel/sole combo and away you go.

That covers the shoe segment, and that leaves our last thing to inventory in your bag, and that is the accessories that we all need to carry to league to help get us through those nights when things might be going wrong due to injury, swollen hand, etc.

ACCESSORIES LIST

1 ) Shoe Brush

2 ) Box of 1″ white bowler’s tape

3 ) Box of 1″ black bowler’s tape

4 ) Tape insert tool

5 ) Hand held rosin bag

6 ) Bottle of new skin to repair blisters, cuts, etc.

7 ) Extra set of finger inserts (if applicable)

8 ) Bottle of super glue or krazy glue

9 ) Large towel for wiping down bowling ball, hands, etc.

10 ) Bag of slide soles / heels (if applicable) for your bowling shoes

11 ) Exacto knife or other small razor blade type of knife.

12 ) Bag of hand conditioner for extra grip

13 ) Knee and / or ankle brace

Well, that covers just about everything you could possible need in your bowling bag on a given league night.  Making sure that you do a complete rundown and inventory of all the above items will allow you to be prepared for any and all circumstances that may arise on your league night.  Feel free to comment about anything I have written, and as always, new ideas and suggestions are always welcome.  Thank you for reading the blog, and enjoy the rest of the summer.  The fall and league bowling will be here before you know it!!!

-James Goulding III

www.msusbc-maine.org

www.lausbca.org

Bowling Shoes & Approaches – Understanding the Rules – By David Charron

Did you know that you are not allowed to apply any foreign substance to the bottom of your bowling shoes during competition? This includes but is not limited to Rosin, Baby Powder, Talcum Powder, Pumice, Ashes, Saliva, Water, Easy Slide (Yes the SHOE Product), Alcohol, Acetone, Simple Green, and Windex.

This is the excerpt from the USBC Rule book that establishes this.
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Rule 12. Approaches Must Not Be Defaced

The application of any foreign substance on any part of the approach that detracts from the possibility of other players having normal conditions is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to talcum powder, pumice and resin on shoes, and/or soft rubber soles or heels that rub off on the approach.

Commonly Asked Questions – Rule 12

12-1   One of the bowlers is having a difficult time sliding on the approach and applies a commercial product purchased at the center pro shop to the bottom of his/her shoes. The product is designed to help a bowler slide. The secretary says she has received a complaint from the opposing team and notifies the individual to stop using the substance or the game will be forfeited. Can an officer tell a bowler to stop using the substance and declare the game forfeited?
Commercial products, talcum powder or any substance applied to the shoe or approach could be in violation of Rule 12. If a league participant uses a substance and somebody complains that it prohibits him/her from having normal conditions, the league officer should require the individual to immediately stop his/her action. If the individual refuses, his/her games are subject to forfeiture.
==============================================================================================================================

In a couple of my leagues we have had some issues with people not understanding the purpose or the meaning of this rule and how it is applied. There have also been instances during Tournaments when bowlers get on unfamiliar approaches that are either slipperier or tackier than what they are accustomed to.

First, let’s discuss the purpose of the rule. The purpose is simple, its safety and fairness to all of the bowlers who are bowling on that particular pair of Lanes. When you apply something to the bottom of your shoe or to the approach you are changing the approach conditions for everyone, and that is not only unfair, but could be a safety hazard as well. For instance let’s say you are putting water on the bottom of your shoe between shots because your sliding too much, you are carrying that moisture to the approach to the area which you are sliding, now that area is stickier then it previously was, the next bowler sticks and falls because of this. You have created an unfair condition for that bowler to have to deal with, not to mention the fact they could injure themselves by falling or pulling a muscle trying not to fall.

Now let’s talk about the rule and what is allowed and not allowed. Keep in mind the rule states “ANY” substance and the “POSSIBILITY” of other players having normal conditions. Having received clarity from the USBC Rules Department, I have learned a few things; the official Charged with rendering judgment (League President or Tournament Manager) has to decide if it is reasonable to think that the actions of the bowler are in violation of rule 12. In almost all instances this is simple, the bowler is applying a substance (Powder, Spit, Ashes, and/or Easy Slide) directly to the bottom on the shoe, and this is a clear violation of Rule 12. (I know someone is thinking the product Easy Slide is for shoes, actually it is a shoe product, but it is illegal to use on the bottom of your shoes during competition). Now there have been other instances where some on the following has happened. I will provide clarification of each instance.

  1.  A bowler puts a powder of some sort on his/her thumb, or on the fingers, or holds a rosin bag in the hands between frames, but before stepping on the approach wipes the bottom of the shoe with his/her palm to remove grit or sand. Prevalent in the winter months in Maine (USBC Says as long as the bowler takes reasonable steps to ensure the powder is not transferred to the shoe they are not in violation of rule 12, USBC would suggest wiping the hand before going to the shoe or using a clean towel to wipe the shoe instead of the hand.). Keep in mind many Bowlers use Rosin Bags, Hand Conditioner, Baby Powder, Etc on their hands for grip purposes, you simply must make reasonable steps to not transfer these substances to your shoes. As USBC suggests if you must wipe the bottom of your shoe, wipe the palm of your hand on your pants or a towel before wiping your shoes)
  2. The bowler has stepped in water and wants to apply something to the bottom of the shoe to counteract the water they stepped in. (Baby Powder, Ashes, Easy Slide, Etc) (USBC Says the bowler cannot apply anything to the bottom of the shoe which could then be transferred to the approach. You can apply these substances to try to fix the slide sole, however you must wipe all of it off before stepping on the approach.) If you must do this during your league of other competition make sure you notify a League or Tournament Official beforehand, this will alleviate any misunderstandings.
  3.  A bowler uses Sneakers or a shoe other than a bowling shoe on either or both feet. (USBC says as long as the foreign shoe does not leave any markings or residue on the approach then the bowler is not in violation of Rule 12, If the shoe does leave a mark or residue on the approach then the shoe(s) cannot be worn)
  4.  A bowler licks their hand and applies this moisture to the bottom of the sliding sole to lessen there slide on slippery approaches. (USBC says that this a clear violation of Rule 12) If you need to adjust the slide of your shoe and do not have the type of shoes that allow you to change the soles the only legal suggestion I can make would be to Brush the bottom of the shoe with a Coarse Wire Brush. The best I have found for this is a little silver colored Tire Brush at Sears. You can lessen the slide by Brushing the sole from front to back, or to lessen it even more brush the sole from side to side thus creating more friction between the sole and the approach.

I hope this information has been helpful and informative. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Good luck and good bowling hope to see all of you at the State Open Tournament in Brunswick.

Team Bowling – What Makes a TEAM – by David Charron

I have bowled on many many different TEAMS over my 30 plus years of bowling, and one thing always rings true in my mind. League Bowling is a TEAM Sport, not an individual competition. Now granted some bowlers will say, well there are Brackets, and Individual Awards, and High Average Awards and such which all have, in some cases, significant value and are certainly Individual Competition within the realm of League play. However I will say it again … “LEAGUE BOWLING IS A TEAM SPORT”. If you disagree ask your TEAMMATES next time out if they care about how much money you make in Brackets, or if they care that you have the League High Game, Series, or Average. The answer would be a resounding NO. So when you’re considering the dynamics of TEAM Bowling I implore you to consider the following;

 

It is not always better to put together a TEAM of the Highest Possible Averages. Granted a TEAM with the higher average does have a slight mathematical advantage depending on the Percentage of Handicap used in your league which can vary depending on the League and the Handicap Structure (Generally Speaking if a League uses 90% of 230 the TEAM that averages 1000 has a 5 Pin advantage over the TEAM that Averages 950 when everyone bowls their average). However, the best TEAMS are not always those with the highest averages. The best TEAMS are those that interact well together and have an ability to keep Teammates focused on the task at hand when things are not necessarily going well. When your TEAM loses it is not one person’s fault, you “Win as a TEAM and lose as a TEAM”, period. Sometimes when you have a TEAM of Higher Averages, egos tend to get in the way. Or the Brackets or Individual accolades get in the way of what the TEAM is trying to accomplish, this almost always leads to a TEAM failure. I once bowled with a gentleman who on the very last night of bowling we were bowling for the League Championship, I need 2 Strikes in the tenth frame of the final game to win the League, but I would have also beat my Teammate in 6 Brackets and the High Game Pot, observers actually witnessed this bowler routing against me. (We Won) But, needless to say after that day I did not bowl with that person ever again, and I instituted a new rule on all of my TEAMS, if I am Alive with a Teammate the final Game of a Bracket, we split it ALWAYS. I do this with all of my teammates regardless of their average, or what I feel my chances of beating them are. This promotes the TEAM Atmosphere for all of us, everyone on all of my TEAMS know and understand the meaning of TEAM. AS the old saying goes there is no “I” in TEAM.

 

Now with that being said here are some tips for being and becoming a better teammate.

 

1)      Remember “WIN as a TEAM, LOSE as a TEAM”, when you win it is not because one bowler bowled good, when you lose it is not because one bowler bowled poorly or missed an important spare in the 10th frame. You can go back and find many instances throughout the game whether you won or lost, where there were contributions to the outcome by all of the bowlers on that TEAM.

 

2)      Always have encouraging words for your Teammates, regardless on what’s going on. Maybe your ahead but somebody is having a rough game, something like “Don’t worry about it, we’ve got your back this game, try to find it for the next game”, or maybe you’re behind and need a spark, something like “hey guys lets have a good frame this frame and see if we can cut down this lead”. Bottom line here is it is all about being POSITIVE, Keep in mind your actions and facial expressions speak louder than your words. Slamming a towel when a teammate misses a crucial spare speaks volumes.

 

3)      Don’t scoreboard watch – what I mean by this is that you can only control yourself and not what other TEAMS are doing who may be ahead or close to you in the League Standings. Scoreboard watching only puts added pressure on yourself and your teammates to perform at a higher level. Your teammates will not appreciate this added pressure. I say the good teammate has put enough pressure on themselves to bowl well without the added pressure of what other TEAMS might be doing.

 

4)      Don’t Scoreboard Watch (Part 2) – Your teammates don’t care who you have in the Brackets, or the side pot, or whatever individual things you got going on that particular night. And when they see you looking around to see who you’ve got and how their bowling it sends a clear message to your teammates, you care more about that then the TEAM. This will not sit well with your teammates.

 

5)      Maintain Focus – Your teammates will appreciate you being at the lanes when it is your turn to bowl, they will also appreciate you staying in the vicinity of your lanes, with your TEAM, rather than always being off socializing with other league members all night long. You have made a commitment to a TEAM, that commitment is not only for a season, it is for each and every night you are bowling with that TEAM. Now I am not saying you can’t socialize during bowling, just don’t do it all night long, be there for your TEAM.

 

6)      Try Your BEST Always – A true teammate is never going to fault you for bowling bad. All I ever ask from my teammates is that they give 100% effort 100% of the time, I expect it from myself, I also expect from my Teammates. Your teammates expect the same from you. If they don’t then they are not the teammates you want to surround yourself with. Bottom Line – NEVER GIVE UP no matter how far behind you might be.

 

In closing, being a good teammate will give your TEAM a better chance of winning, after all I doubt anyone is trying to lose. Your comments, responses, and opinions are encouraged and welcome. Thank You for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. 

 

How Serious Is League Bowling?

How Serious Is League Bowling?

By James Goulding III

 

You all know the league bowler you can’t stand.  The guy who slaps out every “big” strike, the one who pumps his fist in your team’s face if he throws the final strike in the anchor position to beat your team by a pin.  You have that guy (or girl) in your league, correct?  Almost everyone does, and it gets me to the subject of my latest blog entry, which is how serious should we take our league bowling.  One would think it is a simple answer, but that is not always the case.

I am a very competitive bowler, anyone who has ever bowled with or against me can attest to that statement.  But, there is a fine line between being competitive and being just plain ignorant and rude.  I am always the first to congratulate someone who beats me (or my team), it shows good sportsmanship and class to do so.  There is nothing worse than bowling against a team of bowlers who have poor sportsmanship.  When they beat you, they rub it in your face, and when they lose, it’s not because you bowled well, it because they got cheated somehow.  This type of attitude shown toward your fellow bowler can make some of the less “serious” bowlers out there consider not bowling in another league again.  This not only hurts the league, but ultimately has a negative impact on the entire sport of bowling.

I try and tell people, league bowling is great, but if you want to be intense, start bowling local and regional tournaments.  There is nothing wrong with taking league serious, just save the ultra intensity for tournament bowling, where it belongs.  I mean, what good can be gained from slapping out strikes in a Tuesday night men’s league?  Not only do you alienate your team mates by your actions, you look like a fool in front of the entire league.  Keep your emotions in check, not only will it help you bowl better, you will gain the respect of your peers at the lanes at the same time.

If you need an excuse to tone it down a bit, do something that I do: Treat it like a practice session for tournament bowling.  This is a very effective tool and can aide you in keeping your emotions in check if you are an excitable person on the lanes.  I will use league many times to try new equipment, a new release, etc.  If I can not squeeze in an extra practice session before a tournament, this allows me to work on my game, while also being competitive at the same time.  I do not try and hurt my team, I still try my best every time out, but by trying new things I can open my game up and once in a while I can catch lightning in a bottle and sometimes shoot a very big number.  Also, don’t forget the most important thing about league bowling:  HAVE FUN!!!!  If league bowling seems like a job to you, it is time to re-evaluate how you view bowling and lighten up a bit at the lanes.

There is a time and place for everything, and league bowling is not the place to showcase yourself like you are the next Pete Weber.  Try a little tact and have respect for yourself, those around you, and for the sport of bowling.  You will be glad you did.