USBC faces difficult financial times that could result in drastic measures to save money

    12/29/09

    Column

    Dick Evans' old crystal ball looks at 10 possibilities

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg

    The first decade of the 21st Century has not been kind to America and likewise it has been a tough 10 years for the bowling industry in America.

    Bad things started to happen to America on 9/11 in 2001 and then came Katrina, the Iraq war, the greed of crooked American businessmen and politicians, the depression, the lost of major industries across the country and the heart rendering lost of so many jobs.

    Likewise, the 2000s were not kind to the bowling industry, which has seen the financial collapse of the old PBA, the termination of the PWBA tour, the entries in the USBC Women's Championships showing a gradual decline, hundreds of bowling centers closing, the scary loss of million of league bowlers and the tragic loss of three bowling icons -- Dick Weber, Earl Anthony and Joe Norris.

    But to bowling's credit, there have been some positive things happen during the 2000s like continued strong entries in the USBC Open Tournaments, three former Microsoft executives buying the cash depleted PBA, merger of the ABC and WIBC and youth bowling into the USBC, extremely competent leadership from the PBA's Steve Miller and Fred Schreyer to the ABC's Roger Dalkin/Mike Carroll/Jeff Bojé to the WIBC's Joyce Deitch and Sylvia Broyles to the BPAA's John Berglund and all its presidents -- especially Jeff Bojé.

    The brilliant B boys -- Bojé and Berglund -- should take a bow when the completed International Bowling Campus is dedicated Jan. 25 in Arlington, Texas. They were the two driving forces who made it happen.

    To be honest, the new leadership at the helm of the USBC and BPAA will help determine whether the International Bowling Campus in Arlington proves a wise decision in the long run. With deft leadership, the decision to move all the integers in bowling to Arlington could be the best decision the bowling industry ever made.

    But it going to take time and dedication and determination before the true impact of the International Bowling Campus can be appreciated.

    I predicted tough economic problems for the USBC in a column I wrote after the delegates refused to increase membership dues last spring during the national convention in Reno.

    I think a delegate should submit a proposal asking for a dues increase for the 2010 bowling season even if the USBC board doesn't during the 2010 spring convention in Reno.

    Bowlers always are moaning that they take a back seat to fellow participant sports like tennis and golf. One reason bowling is riding in the rumble seat is money. For example USTA is asking its junior tennis members to pay $40 for a USTA card this year.

    In my mind, league bowling always has been a give away sport where you can get back in awards more than you invest in league fees.

    It is time for bowling to put up or shut up.

    If the USBC does not ask, or does not get, a dues increase then you can expect the tightening of the financial belt on every front.

    It will impact almost everything that the USBC does and my crystal ball predicts no dues increase will mean:

    1. Fewer dollars for investing in PBA tournaments.
    2. Fewer dollars to support women tournaments.
    3. Reduction in participation in international events.
    4. Fewer meetings at all levels and reduction of the sizes of everything from the USBC board to the Hall of Fame committee.
    5. No longer paying everybody who attends a USBC meeting (I think $50 a day) besides all expenses.
    6. Once again no raises in salary for most employees.
    7. No more expensive dinners with fine wine for members of any committee.
    8. Fewer trips for employees to everything from proprietor conventions to speaking engagements.
    9. Elimination of old throw backs like participation in the Women's Sports Foundation dinner to the bowling writing contest to the publishing of USBC magazines.
    10. Not filling the jobs of any employee who leaves or retires.
    Tough times demand tough financial decisions across the board

    I remind you, that these are only POSSIBLE predictions from my "old" crystal ball

    I can feel empathy for what the staff of the USBC may be facing because I lived through tough economic times during my 40 years as a member of the Miami Herald sports department.

    The Herald was part of the Knight chain and in the beginning The Herald always made a big profit. But some of the chain papers up north that faced costly union strikes did not so the whole chain often would be run under an austerity budget.

    To help the chain, The Herald froze salary increases, didn't hire people to fill vacant positions, cut down on all business travel, curtailed even long distance phone calls and even made the employees pay to have the paper delivered to their homes.

    Nobody liked the new regulations, but they liked their jobs so they sucked it up.

    Eventually things improved and things went back to normal for a few years until another austerity budget was put in place and a few years later another austerity budget and on and on. You learned to save when things were good in order to weather the down years.

    After I retired in 1989, The Herald offered me a chance to write a weekly bowling column for as long as I wanted. I started off making a lot of money for my columns, but then the newspaper business started to slump and the Herald asked me to accept less money and I accepted. A few years later the sports editor asked me to write for even fewer dollars and I agreed.

    Then I was asked to write only two columns per month at even less money and I said OK. One year the sports department spent so much money covering the Olympics in Australia that the sports budget had run dry by October so the sports editor sent out a note to all correspondents (writers not on the regular payroll) and told us there was no money to pay us for November and December columns so we had to stop writing for two months.

    I owed so much to The Herald for a good life that I wrote those four columns for free and on my own terms proudly ended my 64 year association with The Miami Herald Aug. 1.

    For seven years after my official retirement from The Herald I worked for the Professional Bowlers Association as one of two media directors on the Senior Tour.

    I worked 77 tournaments at a flat fee for every day on the road. When I first started in 1990 Joe Antenora was commissioner and the PBA still was drawing about $190,000 from the ABC-TV network for every winter telecast.

    There were funds for the senior tour and a great deal of interest so the Senior tour grew from four in 1990 to 16 in 1997 but the tour staff had dwindled from six to three.

    Money grew tight as ABC-TV reduced its rights money and then dropped the PBA tour completely.

    I knew that things were tough back at the home PBA office in Akron so I tried to do my small part to reduce tour expenses by taking a 33 percent pay cut on the days I didn't have to work split shifts at tournaments -- 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then 5 p.m. to as late as midnight.

    Did my small pay cut help? No. Did it make me feel better about myself? Yes.

    You can't buy allegiance at any price, and I think everyone associated with the USBC is going to show that at every turn as long as necessary.

    Email address: Evans121@aol.com