Volume 3, Issue 10, The 114th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Ever since I first heard of the Sport Bowling concept, I've been a big proponent of the program. I was fortunate enough to "sample" it during WIBC convention at a Reno bowling center last year, and I'm currently secretary to a league that is practicing the concept without the paperwork of the true test program. So when I heard that the powers of Bowling, Inc. purchased the SportBowling.com domain name, I was eager to see what they were ready to promote. However, it didn't take me any time at all to realize that the most noble of intentions of the test program were going to come back to haunt some of its very own test participants. One of the first things that caught my eye at the new SportBowling.com site was the "Average Adjustment Scale."
The Sport Bowling concept was supposed to put integrity back in the game by removing the easy lane conditions that have plagued the sport since the System of Bowling dictated that at least three units anywhere across the lane constituted a legal shot. Proprietors put three units of oil at the gutter, moved inside to about ten board, put a gazillion units, and averages and honor scores went through the roof. Bowlers who had honed their craft for years objected. Then in the last couple years, the Sport Bowling concept was created to develop flatter lane conditions that would require more accuracy in shotmaking.
But before the concept could become reality, the powers-that-be required data. Lots of it. In the last year or two, Sport Bowling leagues have recruited eager bowlers as the proverbial guinea pigs. Bowlers joined, and as expected, scores dropped. For those sticking it out, accuracy has returned. And bowlers involved filled out copious forms each week to provide the Sports Bowling folks with the data needed to prove that the test patterns were on the right track.
Then along comes the "Average Adjustment Scale." For folks bowling only the Sports League, the powers that be have stated that for tournaments, those bowlers will receive in most cases a 20-pin adjustment upwards. The same people who acknowledged a problem and volunteered to investigate the solution are going to be "adjusted." But right there on the site, they warn folks not to consider it a rerate. Well, what exactly would you call it?
Now I'll concede, most bowlers who are in the Sports Leagues are probably bowling more than one league, and so they'll use their highest book average anyway. But it just seems like the Sports Bowling people are biting the hand that has been feeding them the data. Instead of either tiering bowling into REAL bowling and fun bowling or simply acknowledging the failure of the System of Bowling and easy lane conditions, they're going to penalize the same bowlers who are willing to learn to bowl again on a lane condition that puts a premium on accuracy, speed control, and the fine art of practice.
Yet other bowlers across the country are embracing the concept of Sport Bowling, without the paperwork that goes with the testing. What happens to their averages? Nothing, unless the folks at Sport Bowling plan on a witch hunt to find any group of bowlers who "just said no" to easy lane conditions. You cannot quantify the better accuracy and the dedication of bowlers and proprietors who give up the safety of the wall and go with a flat oil pattern. In some cases it might be 20 pins, but there are others where it could be much higher or lower.
I wish bowling would do the right thing and make ALL lane conditions sport conditions. And for those "recreational" types they want to appease, tier their membership accordingly.