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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 1, Issue 50

By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      Boy, bowling is on every Saturday, so life is good. Well, it is for me, living in my own little world in the suburbs of Los Angeles. The rumblings of trouble in other parts of the country don't affect me while I'm happily rooting for the guys who made the show each week. But the rumblings are getting louder, and I can't ignore them much longer, because I'm afraid my area will be next.

      What if I turned on the TV, and the PBA Tour telecast wasn't on? I've unfortunately had this scenario play out once already this year with the ill-fated Chattanooga Open. I had my beverage of choice, I was stretched out ready to watch a perfect game (ok, I peeked at the PBA website, cuz I couldn't wait. But I was still excited to SEE it), and then due to technical difficulties, it didn't air. I had faith that SOMEDAY it would air, and that and the fact that no one saw it that day probably are the only things that kept me from going insane. And it did air, taking eight weeks to create a new tape and get ESPN to commit the airtime. It was on in the wee hours of the morning, but that's what they invented the VCR for.

      But the "missing" telecasts I'm hearing about now will never air. Not because there was a production error, but because someone on the local level decided not to air them. What concerns me about the non-airing of the PBA Tour this year, is that CBS affiliates are choosing to run OLD movies and infomercials instead of a live sporting event. I can see the argument of a big college or professional team pre-empting bowling--not that I would like it, but I'd understand that scenario. But pre-empting the Tour for Bruce Willis or a pasta maker? Ouch.

      I can remember how upset some people were a few years ago when cable was less prevelant, and they would miss the entire ESPN swing of the PBA Tour and all of the PWBA. I've lived in areas that have made cable a necessity for so long, I can't remember not having cable, but homes without cable still exist, I'm told. But in reality, if a few cable-less bowlers showed up at a bowling center or other sports bar, they could always have the TV changed.

      Then there was the more recent PWBA mishap where instead of network affiliates or cable outlets, they opted for small, UHF stations that mostly televised infomercials and paid religious programming. Huge blocks bowling fans across the country, some in the largest markets (like Los Angeles), couldn't receive the telecasts because their cable companies didn't pick up these tiny stations. And even in areas where they did air, it was hard to tell others where to watch, since the channels changed in each market. Luckily, the PWBA soon realized their error, and negotiated a contract with ESPN and ESPN2. The shows haven't always aired on the same day, but I can live with the delay. I am the weird sort that can visit the web site, find out the results, and then savor the telecast anyway. It's like watching a good movie a second time. You might know the ending, but it frees you up to concentrate on other aspects, like the bowler's release or the line they're playing.

      But honestly, how can I expect CBS to take bowling seriously when they plug their sports web site four times during the one-hour telecast, and yet, when I go there, I'm hard pressed to find any bowling information? Well, how seriously will they take just me, alone, probably not very. But, I will tell you what I've done. I've written the local CBS affiliate and said "thanks." Considering that Los Angeles is not the hot bed of bowling that say Detroit or New York is, I am thrilled we saw the telecasts. And I think more fans should do the same. The problem is that television networks and local stations work on the "squeaky wheel" principle. The more people who respond, the better. E-mail CBS. E-mail your local CBS affiliate. I can't do it alone. But together, we can get bowling back on ALL the affiliates.

Gotta Split,


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