Volume 3, Issue 19, The 123th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Recently, someone asked me for input on the concept of a single membership organization. Realizing there are already strong opinions on both sides of the Single Membership argument, I figure it's my turn to weigh in.
First, I have a laundry list of bowling "titles." I'm president of the local YBA, 2nd VP of the WBA, and I do lane certification on the joint committee with the local ABC. Big whoop, right. I'm only saying it to show I wear a lot of hats at the organizational level. And I know from the separate meetings, there is way too much duplication. If we joined under one umbrella, we could accomplish either three times as much OR ask one-third of the time commitment of the volunteers we already have. Think of how many more people could contribute if we weren't asking them to take on what amounts to a part-time job. Score one point for merging.
A larger national organization could accomplish economies of scale that smaller associations simply could not. I'm not sure if everyone's aware, but there are *literally* bowling associations that serve fewer than one hundred people or serve only ONE center. Or when a center closes, to keep power, they continue as an association with NO center. Weird? Yes. Wasteful? Almost certainly. Certainly the one-on-one attention could still be there for award presentations and the like, but there's no way that it's cost efficient to process anything else in those itty bitty associations. But regional only offices will lose that one-on-one attention unless some form of local volunteer is still in force. Does anyone really believe someone would drive several hundred miles to present a "Big 4" patch? This issue needs further clarification.
I'm one of the people who joined the local organizations because the job needed to be done. I don't feel sorry for the people who've done it to amass power or hold impressive titles. I'm not afraid that if we join together "the men will take over all the good jobs" or that "the women will turn everything into a tea party." Quite frankly, a lot of those "good jobs" should go to the person best suited for it, regardless of gender. If someone can do the job I do, and render me useless, then that's more free time for me. Score another one for the merger.
I'm working with the local WIBC and the local ABC in order to have at least one *joint* meeting a year. With me going to so many meetings each year, I'm getting really tired of having someone paraphrase what "THEY" are going to do. If THEY become WE, some of the stupidest statements I hear at each meeting would disappear. The only risk here is that if the regional concept doesn't include a local component, someone else is going to be the "they." Provided the new plan addresses the issue, I again give the point to merge.
I'm also secretary of a ABC/WIBC/YABA league. While the ABC/WIBC is one form, YABA is another. That's just a waste of time. ABC does things one way, WIBC does it another, and YABA another way. How can you explain that to new members? For awhile, WIBC was mailing cards to members (a good idea in my opinion, but for another column), but ABC and YABA were still hand delivering them. Now ABC is doing mail delivery, but YABA is still on me to hand them out. Not a big deal, but if it makes sense for one organization, it should be handled that way by all. Consistency says merge. Heck, some locals already have one average book. Wouldn't that be nice for all locals?
Now when it comes to the assets, this is the part where I think the "SMO" has got to fix their wording. Some of these local and state organization have amassed large sums of capital and property, and very little has been said as to what would happen to their assets under the new organization. That said, as nonprofit organizations FOR their members, I'm not entirely sure why some of the groups should be sitting on huge sums of money that would be better spent on or given back TO their members. For this, right now, I'm with the locals that say "hands off" until the locals can get answers to what they can and should do with their members assets.
Some people have worried about what will happen to Canada if the U.S. creates its own group. I hate to be nasty, but they need their own organization. When a friend of mine from England comes states' side to bowl, he has to pick up an ABC card to bowl Nationals or anything else. I'd assume if we leave the U.S. to bowl, we'd be expected to do the same in any other country. If we were to be under the auspices of a single entity hopefully an average in Malaysia would be recognized as would an average from Canada, etc, although that is not how it works now. ABC recognizes ABC league averages bowled in horribly kept military centers overseas, but not leagues bowled under other jurisdictions. Can you say legal average management? I'm not sure how merging would change that, but it's something I'd like to see addressed.
There will be a time and a place for a single, united bowling congress. Maybe not now, maybe not even in five years. But hopefully soon. There is a lot to be gained, and even though there is a lot of work to be done to clarify the sticking points, a UBC will be a better idea for bowlers--and volunteers, that's who we're here for, the bowlers.