Volume 5, Issue 1, The 129th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
In a vote reminiscent of a Rocky movie, the American Bowling Congress delegates have rejected the merger of the various acronyms of bowling 628-630. Although the proposal would have required 2/3 of the 1279 delegates to agree, the vote didn't even make a simple majority despite online chats, whistle-stop tours, and about as much propaganda as has ever been put out on a single proposal.
While opponents are still tipping their glasses and slapping each others' backs, it seems too soon to ask if a single-membership organization is dead. WIBC delegates will be asked next month to rescind their vote to table the merger until 2004. Will they vote to merge without the ABC? It seems unlikely. If they vote to rescind tabling the proposal, it seems almost obvious that it would be given its death knell.
But is it the concept of a single organization that is so repugnant to members, or was it this particular proposal? While some locals swore never to merge, some swearing to even break away and form new organizations, most people I talked to seemed to approach the practicality of a united bowling congress. Secretaries would have one sanction form, one place to call for information, and families would have one check to write out rather than three. What would it take to pass a UBC?
First of all, it's clear that current local volunteers do not want to give up the ability to vote on rate increases. While both ABC and WIBC have allowed rate increases in recent years, it was with delegate approval. At least the local delegates knew what the increase was for, and could vote based on the merits of the argument. Since the locals are the ones who deal with the membership daily, they're the ones who bear the bront of the heat in any increase, so they should definitely have a say in any increases.
Secondly, don't FORCE a merge. I know it sounds revolutionary (I really need a sarcasm font here), but organizations that want to remain dynamic have already merged in some senses. Organizations with good communication already work together. With the merger proposal some organizations even worked together to defeat the proposal. The writing is on the wall, and most organizations admitted that the idea was right, but the proposal was rushed. Hopefully, they proponents will take what they heard at the convention and at the whistle stops and actually create a proposal that doesn't seem rushed or forced. The reality is that if the organizations tell the members that this proposal is all they're getting and that it's this proposal or nothing, the local organizations have now stately clearly they prefer nothing.
Many locals felt that the proposed merger left them high and dry. Rather than ignore the efforts of the locals, a new proposal should start at the local level rather than from higher up. Many locals were surprised to hear that some people had been selectively contacted for input, rather than calling for input from the volunteers at large. If 2,000 people's opinions were used in creating the SMO proposal, then why not allow everyone's input who wanted to give an opinion?
Heck while they're at it, if it really is about creating ONE organization, create a FAMILY membership where one price covers all family members, and the organization could save money on postage and publications rather than sending so many magazines to the same address. If health insurance rates don't increase past a family size of three or four, how much more difficult would it be to sanction an entire family for one price?
Let's hope that the good points of a merged organization don't fall by the wayside. If it was a good idea before, then hopefully, the organizers can learn from the mistakes of this proposal and come up with a plan that more, if not most, bowlers will appreciate.
Ed. Note: Angel Zobel-Rodriguez came out of self-imposed semi-retirement to write this
article. She currently is enjoying teaching her 2-year-old to bowl.