A central feature of the new rules will be the use of participants’ Open Championships tournament average to help place bowlers in the correct divisions.
The new rules will require teams to set rosters 14 days in advance of participation, so tournament staff can have time to evaluate and verify averages. The 2017 tournament will mark the debut of a third division, the Standard Division for bowlers with entering averages of 181-209.
The Regular Division now will be for bowlers with averages of 210 and above, while the Classified Division remains for bowlers who have averages of 180 and below.
“Manipulation of a bowler’s average is a serious issue in the sport and something USBC plans to aggressively address at the Open Championships,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said.
“Adding a new division to the event can only be successful by also addressing the integrity of the averages used.”
Key changes in the 2017 average rules include requiring participants to use their highest average from the following sources:
– Open Championships tournament average based on most recent 27 games since 2008 adjusted utilizing the USBC Sport Average Adjustment Scale
– Past three seasons of USBC certified league play
– Any league average reported as a Sport or Challenge league will be adjusted utilizing the USBC Sport Average Adjustment Scale
Any bowler found using an average below the player’s ability will be disqualified and subject to suspension charges initiated by USBC under USBC Rule 17a, Grounds for Disciplinary Action – Unfair Tactics.
“These rule changes will represent a major shift in the culture of average integrity enforcement at the USBC Open Championships,” Murphy said. “When we catch people attempting to manipulate the system, they will be disqualified and subject to the most severe penalties available under USBC rules.”
In order to provide participants the information they need to report the proper entering average, a new version of Find a Member on BOWL.com now is available.
The new version includes a section for “Championship Average” which displays the Open Championships tournament average based on the most recent 27 games since 2008 adjusted utilizing the USBC Sport Average Adjustment Scale.
Bowlers should use the Sport Adjusted Average for the 2017 USBC Open Championships if it is the highest average available.
Based on tournament average, historical data shows about 20 percent of Classified Division bowlers should be in the Standard Division while five percent of those with entering averages in the Standard Division range should be in the Regular Division.
“We recognize the new rules will require extra planning for captains and some people or teams will move up in division,” Murphy said. “We believe when bowlers step back and look at the big picture, these rules will be a reason to celebrate a better future for the sport as we protect the integrity of the tournament and set an example for other events to follow.”
Click here for more information about the 2017 USBC Open Championships, including Frequently Asked Questions.