The Changing Face of Bowling By Jackie Wyckoff



    BWAAJackieWyckoff.jpg Remember when even the professional bowlers only had a one-ball arsenal? Those days are gone forever and even the amateurs these days walk into the bowling center with inter-changeable sliding sole shoes and upwards of six balls. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan "the times they are a-changin'". What else is new in our bowling world? I can think of at least a half a dozen items…

    USBC – United States Bowling Congress
    The national governing body is moving in a new direction – figuratively and literally!

    "Growing the sport" is the new catchphrase at bowling headquarters. The spotlight is moving to youth bowling, helping to create a customer base to last for decades to come. We have a proprietor, Jeff Bojé, as USBC president for the first time in our more than 113 year history and USBC board members are showing up in the Bowler's Journal "Power Poll" in greater numbers than ever before.

    The United States Bowling Congress was formerly the American Bowling Congress (ABC), the Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC), the Young American Bowling Congress (YABA) and USA Bowling.

    International Bowling Campus
    USBC's headquarters are moving from Greendale, Wis. to Arlington, Tex. and should be fully operational sometime in early November. In an historic vote, the USBC board approved the move to the new Arlington facility, sharing space with the Bowling Proprietors of America.

    "Relocating to Arlington would allow for the creation of an international bowling campus" said USBC President Jeff Bojé. "We can set the foundation for tremendous growth and opportunities for decades to come."

    The new International Bowling Campus is located across the street from the Six Flags Over Texas theme park, only blocks from both the Texas Ranger's and Dallas Cowboys ballparks and should prove to be a popular destination.

    International Training Center
    Construction on the 20-lane International Training Center, located within the International Bowling Campus, will begin later this year with an anticipated completion in spring 2009. Rod Ross has been named as Head Coach for the facility.

    Advanced technology and teaching tools will be a key component of the training center to help improve the skills of coaches and bowlers alike. The facility will be a coaching and training destination for Team USA, Junior Team USA and national teams from countries around the world. In addition, the training center will be available for a fee to any bowlers who want to take high-tech coaching lessons.

    BPAA - Bowling Proprietors Association of America
    The owners of our playing fields have not been idle in the change department. Under the direction of John Berglund, BPAA Executive Director and a string of incredible presidents, including current president Jim Sturm and past presidents Joe Schumacker and Jeff Bojé, International Bowl Expo has become the premier bowling trade show and gathering for power players in the bowling industry.

    Bowl Expo partners include USBC, the Bowling Writers Association of America (BWAA), International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association (IBPSIA), USBC Coaching, US Military Conference, European Bowling Proprietors to name only a few.

    The BPAA is responsible for new names for our centers. No longer are we limited to playing in an "alley" now we can choose from a "Traditional Center", an "FEC", Family Entertainment Center or a "Boutique Bowl". Almost every large market area now has a new boutique style center with an upscale bar, great food with private party and lane areas.

    And let's not forget our new bowling partnerships, forged by Strike Ten. The "official food and beverages of bowling" include Pepsi, Budweiser, Ballpark Franks and Dale & Thomas Popcorn Indiana. Are you supporting the sponsors who support your sport? You should be.

    Professional Bowlers Association
    Eddie Elias, who founded the PBA in 1958, would barely recognize the PBA in its current state. Talk about change. Women allowed to bowl against men? Creating a roster of exempt players… uh well, maybe Eddie had something there? Celebrity tournaments on television? The PBA Women's Series? Player Blogs? Xtra Frame Online Videos, Merchandise Auctions and PBA Tour Fantasy Game?<
    This year promises to be an exciting season with the 50th Anniversary of the PBA. Be sure to set your TiVo, DVR, VCR or whatever you have and don't miss a minute of the PBA Lumber Liquidators action on ESPN. If there is a PBA Tour Event in your geographical area – get there to see the updated event formats. Crowds at the finals will be treated to music, match updates and public address announcements, comparable to most other live major sports presentations.

    Technology in Bowling
    Getting back to those balls and shoes, the advancements in technology has allowed us, the average bowler, to be "better, stronger, faster" players than ever before. As a group we are scoring higher and enjoying competition on difficult conditions like the PBA Experience or a Sport League.

    For years, we have studied how the angle that bowling balls hit the pins affects a bowler's ability to strike. That doesn't tell the whole story, however. Researchers are now examining what happens to pins when balls enter the pocket.

    Current research is studying how the modern bowling environment plays a part in pin carry. The combination of recent advancements in lane oiling machines, lane conditioners and cleaners, bowling balls, lane surfaces and player skill allows today's bowlers to create steep angles of entry into the pins, resulting in higher strike percentages as balls roll through the pins after impact.

    I doubt that even Ray Bluth or Andy Varipapa could have envisioned that today's bowlers would need to know the RG, Differential, Cover Stock, Flip Ratio, Weight Block, Core and Hook Potential of each ball they may have in their average, scratch bowler's arsenal of today.

    My grandson believes his Sponge Bob league is "sick" and my mother thought her ladies wig league was the "cat's pajamas". My son told me it was "dope" when he bowled his first 200 game and I insisted that being selected to the Queens & Masters at age fourteen was "groovy". No matter what you call it, when or how you do it, bowling is FUN.

    So lets just agree with Bob Dylan that "The line it is drawn / The curse it is cast / The slow one now / Will later be fast / As the present now / Will later be past / The order is / Rapidly fadin'. / And the first one now / Will later be last / For the times they are a-changin'."