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Bowling: USBC keeps taking away from the bowlers

Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune  

Post-Tribune sports writer Steve Gorches

Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune Post-Tribune sports writer Steve Gorches

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Updated: October 12, 2013 6:42AM



When I started bowling leagues some 25 years ago, I had several reasons as to why I was doing it.

I loved the sport of bowling, I liked the teammates I was bowling with and I liked betting on my own ability in sidepots, as well as getting money at the end of the league based on how our team performed. I also liked the reward of getting better provided by the conglomerate running the sport. Back then it was the American Bowling Congress (or Women’s International Bowling Congress). Now it’s all under the United States Bowling Congress umbrella.

I started with a 183 average in adult leagues, then worked hard to improve to 211 the next year, and eventually top out at 233 a couple years ago, while accumulating several 300 games and six 800 series. And ever since my first 300 on Sept. 22, 1993 at the old Stardust Bowl I in Hammond, it’s always been my goal to shoot at least one during the bowling calendar year. It was a goal because it was always nice to get that ring from the USBC. It legitimized the accomplishment and showed where our annual sanction money went.

But the USBC doesn’t feel the same way. Starting Aug. 1, 2014, the organization will no longer give adult members 300 or 800 rings to those who have already achieved that honor in their life. In other words, they will be once-in-a-lifetime awards, even for someone who shot his or her first 300 decades ago and hasn’t shot one since.

The USBC doesn’t care about that hypothetical person, or any of us. Remember, it’s already eliminated patches for minor accomplishments over the years — first 700 series of the season, picking up 7-10 splits, shooting a triplicate series. All of those are gone, and this is the last year for major awards, too. Oh yeah, did I mention the USBC is completely getting rid of the 11-in-a-row award, meaning those 290 games will mean nothing.

“With this change, USBC takes another meaningful step toward our vision of redefining the organization,” USBC president Andrew Cain said. “I want to clearly emphasize that cost savings was only a small factor in the board’s decision-making process approving the change. This is primarily about a philosophical shift to make USBC membership about supporting and protecting the sport. The board believes this adjustment to the high score awards program provides a good balance of preserving an organizational tradition while moving toward USBC’s vision for the future.”

Huh? What does that even mean? I used to have respect for Cain, a three-time Team USA member, but in that statement he sounds like every other CEO or company president trying to explain downsizing. A philosophical shift? So the $18 sanction fee we pay ($10 of it going directly to USBC headquarters and the other $8 for local associations) is for support and protection of the sport?

Of course cost-cutting is a major part of it. The annual fee hasn’t changed, but services have almost disappeared. It’s like a major restaurant chain keeping the cost of a hamburger the same, but making the patty smaller. It’s all about the money the USBC is saving by not providing siladium rings or 11-in-a-row plaques. The Cain I remember competing on TV can’t possibly believe the propaganda he’s spouting.

Mark Millsap, owner of Ray’s Lanes in Lake Station and fellow bowler who appreciated the 300 and 800 rings he received, told his bowlers before the start of a recent league to complain to the USBC and tell them how you feel.

He’s right. What’s the purpose of getting better at bowling if USBC won’t reward you anymore? It’s not just about the 300s and 800s. It’s about those patches for other bowlers that have been eliminated (pins over average, league champion or most improved).

I used to love the sport of bowling. But with hierarchy like Cain lying to us, I don’t know if I’m able to anymore.

Let’s get this right officially: Even though we put a correction in the Post-Tribune two weeks ago, let’s make sure those who missed it get it right his time.

The Post-Tribune-IGrind Fall Sport Shot Classic will take place on Sunday, Oct. 27 at Stardust III at a cost of $35 per bowler if paid before Oct. 26. It was previously announced as a different date. The week before the P-T SSC on Oct. 20 will be the Lakeshore Bowling Association Masters & Queens at Ray’s Lanes, as well as the P-T Preseason High School Bowl O-Rama at Stardust II. So it will be a busy couple weeks of region bowling, especially those who love competing on tougher lane conditions.

Lakeshore golf outing: Speaking of the Lakeshore Association, its annual golf outing is this Saturday at Summertree Golf Club in Crown Point with a check-in time of 7 a.m. (shotgun start at 8 a.m.). And with the extra warm weather this week, why not get an extra round of golf in before the chill arrives. For details, call Tim Slinker at 798-3422, Jeff Snuffer at 759-5777 or Brian Reel at 659-0835.

Stardust II league needs bowlers: The Friday Fun League at Stardust II in Hobart needs one male and one female bowler to fill teams. For details, contact the center at 942-0432 or email at stardust2@bowlstardust.com.



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