Volume 2, Issue 6, The 58th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Just when I figured I had heard it all in bowling, this summer has been a learning experience. I've joined up with two friends--refugees from a now shuttered center where I first started bowling--and we're having a blast together. I haven't had this much fun bowling in years. On the other hand, I'm absolutely miserable. Call this a tale of two leagues. Trying to find a scratch league for the summer proved elusive, so the friend who first asked me to bowl found us a "fun" handicap league on a good night for both of us and with low league fees.
When we persuaded the other friend to come out of his self-imposed retirement, it was old home week. If my husband wasn't still nursing an achilles injury, he'd be our fourth, but we found a stranger who called during the first night and wanted to bowl. We'd been told the league maximum, or cap, would be around 760 for four bowlers. At the league meeting, I offered to be secretary, and was quickly voted in. It was a tiny league of six, four-man teams, and I thought, no problem.
The friend who has been away from bowling hasn't picked up a ball in something like three years. He had had a pretty high average when we'd last seen him bowl, but like many folks, a wife and a new baby had changed his commitment to the game. Getting him to come back for the summer was a treat for us all. We optimistically hoped him to start at about 190, and as the rust wore off settle in around 210. Since it was a handicap league, we didn't worry about it, because the handicap would level any differences. Unfortunately, he's proving that some folks never lose anything without practice, and Brian is averaging 230 at last count.
What we didn't realize until after the league floored was how low the other teams were average-wise. Why the house would encourage a 760 max when the other teams barely break 500 and 600 team average is beyond me. We tried to be low-key--this was about fun for the three of us. Then our fourth bowler turned into a something out of a Jeckyll and Hyde movie, and started bragging out loud that we'd have no problem winning the league. After explaining to him this was just for fun, he still didn't get it. He obviously didn't read the book about how to make friends and influence people, so my team took him aside for a little "discussion." And I end up apologizing for his extremely animated behavior to every team we bowl, although he has calmed down quite a bit. Apparently the trophy means a lot to him.
Needless to say, the other teams were intimidated. They saw us as big fish invading their pond, and that was not our intent. As the other teams got less and less friendly, I pulled the president aside after league one night. He's another good soul in the league that seemed intent on pulling everything together. As I told him our story, he seemed to understand. As I talked to him about the prize fund, I found out this league had previously used point standings to pay out the prize money. Gee, with us winning three of four points or sweeping each week, I saw why the league was getting more and more miffed. When I told him that given the disparity of the teams, we might be better off with place money, he seemed to relax--a lot.
So I went home and crafted the flattest prize list I could figure, with just $10 difference between each team place. I brought in a proposed pay list, and the league voted for it. For sake of argument, I created a point money option, so they could see the difference, but even my team accepted what was best for the entire league. Before we started bowling, folks walked up to thank me. I'm hoping to salvage the rest of the season without losing other teams.
In the future, I'll grill the center more to find out the type of bowlers who participate in a league if I'm interested in bowling. I really had no intention of disturbing the balance of the "force." But I also think that a house should be more responsible when guiding new teams to "house leagues." If things had gone differently, they could have lost the entire league.