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

Volume 2, Issue 38, The 90th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      Sometimes it's difficult to see beyond the black and white of what is in a set of league rules to the more grey area of what's the right thing to do. After all, many of us have been bowling so long, we know the rules by heart, and we use the rules to our advantage.

      My family is bowling an adult/junior league. About half the teams are low-average parents bowling league with their children--many sanctioned for the first time. The other half are the junior coaches and employees of the bowling center participating with kids whose parents don't bowl or who have more siblings than parents in the family. It's not a stretch to say that one group of these adults has a bit more experience around bowling than the other.

      It's a new league, and often rules that seem obvious in hindsight get overlooked. Each team consists of one adult and one youth bowler. A few weeks ago, the youth director found out that one youth bowler would not be bowling the night of position round and his partner, a junior coach, had gotten a sub. The youth director discovered this when the sub came to the desk half an hour before league.

      The director could see the conflict already--the regular member was a fifth grader who barely averages 100, while the sub can drive, shave, and look me in the eye at 5'9." As some of the teams came to the desk to pick up league sheets, a small crowd formed discussing the issue.

      The bottom line? The was no rule preventing a team from having a sub on position in the rules. If the sub and the team member agreed, there was nothing to stop the sub from bowling. The thing that some of the bowlers kept going back to, however, was the fact that this was a trophy-only league. At one point, the coach herself said, "It's just for fun."

      While her point was probably, "It's just for fun, so it shouldn't matter if we use a sub or not," several of the other parents and coaches pointed out just the opposite: If the league is just for fun, then it matters. A lot.

      One of the things longtime bowlers must take responsibility for is that fact that just because we can do something, it doesn't necessarily mean we should. In fact, sometimes we need to bend over backwards to be perceived as more fair than others. In this case, we're not only setting an example for these children, we're introducing their parents to league bowling without using the rules we created to beat them over the head with.

      Practice started, and it still wasn't clear if the sub would bowl or not. The turning point came when the junior sub came down to the pair, and watched the opposing team lacing up. A dad and his son--probably half the sub's age--but definitely half the sub's average. Finally he spoke up, and said, I can't do this, and explained to the coach he couldn't sub. I couldn't help but feel proud for the sub. Here's a junior who truly understands this may be a sport for some, but the desire to compete starts as a desire to play.

      There was no league meeting, no clash of officers, just a teenager who saw what he stood to gain, and what the league stood to lose. Sometimes integrity isn't about following the rules, it's more about following your conscience.

Gotta Split,


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