I don’t want to get into a rant of the state of bowling at large here. Rather, I’d like to express some dismay with the current PBA tournament structure.
Basically, I’m not buying this as the future of the PBA. I think it’s totally unfair that the majority of the tournaments for a given year are now basically played in one venue in a short span of time. Firstly, everyone knows that some bowlers do particularly well in a house while others always tend to struggle. Some bowlers simply match up better to certain houses, lanes, pairs than others. Everyone knows a bowler who just destroys a certain house while some just can’t buy a sanctioned double in others.
Here’s the story
The World Series of Bowling for the 2011-2012 season ran in Las Vegas from November 4th to the 20th. It included the Viper Open, Chameleon Open, Scorpion Open and Shark Open; PBA World Championship; Carmen Salvino Classic, Pepsi PBA Elite Players Championship, Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship. That’s a whopping 8 tournaments contested on the same lanes. Of course they are not the same patterns but the same place. I believe that gives certain players a distinct advantage if they happen to really excel on those lanes or that atmosphere. This setting accounted for more than half of the “real” PBA tournaments this season, which had a total of 16 including the Chris Paul Invitational. I’m OK with it if it provides additional exposure for bowling and it is for charity after all. I just can’t in good conscience consider it a real PBA tournament.
Also, keep in mind, that the finals of each of these 8 tournaments were held in a span of 3 days! Yes, 3 days!!! So over just less than 3 weeks, 8 tournaments are decided in the same venue… I can’t be the only one scratching my head. So not only do you give the advantage to bowlers who happen to excel in the venue, you also benefit those who have a “hot hand” over a 2-3 week period. OK, that’s a cheapy in Vegas, but it’s true.
I Mean, C’mon!
We saw players over and over in these tournaments. Sean Rash and Jason Belmonte made an inordinate amount of shows during that really long 3 day period. I know they were televised over a few months but that’s the point. I’m not taking anything away from these very talented bowlers. They took advantage of having the hot hand at that time. However, there are several other talented bowlers who didn’t make that kind of showing. It kind of makes viewers feel like their favorite players just aren’t bowling well when in fact they could be bowling very well. Take Norm Duke. He had a fantastic season and was in the running for Player of the Year. Player of the Year??? He really bowled very well, but who saw Norm bowl? You had to subscribe to xtra frame to watch one of his wins, the Xtra Frame Detroit Open. He was so dominating, it was ridiculous. I guess most people didn’t see it. I know I didn’t…
If you look at the format of the “animal-pattern” tournaments for example, it was 8-game qualifying, followed by a 6 game qualifier for the top 16. The top 4 in that round make the televised final. So you only had to bowl really well for 14 games to make the final. One tournament could be won with 17 total games, which includes the 3 game eliminator final. I’m sorry, but it seems to me a bit too little work for a PBA win. Given the much smaller purses these days, I guess you can’t ask for someone to waste a whole week traveling, being away from family, then bowling 100 games to have a remote chance to win 10 grand or whatever. I still think it’s a travesty and is very tricky to the onlooker who watches these shows sometimes over a month after the result has been decided.
Since when do sports make sense NOT being live?
For those who know what it used to take to get through a whole tournament week, this set up seems a shell of that. Perhaps, similar to today’s bowling status being a shell of the old glory bowling used to have. Some people already know the results before they are televised. You have to avoid looking at statistics online or you’re liable to find a result you didn’t want to know since the shows hadn’t aired yet.
It’s just so hard to fathom really. There are so many talented bowlers I would love to be watching week in and week out. The bowlers seem to be split up in 3 groups, mostly by age. There are the bowlers in the twilight, like Pete Weber, Norm Duke, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. Then you have the guys who are still physically strong, but reaching a pinnacle of mental maturity for the game like Chris Barnes, Mika Koivuniemi, and Mike DeVaney. Then there are the ones who are in their prime like Sean Rash, Jason Belmonte, Mike Fagan, and Bill O’Neill. I haven’t even mentioned a top headline with Kelly Kulick being the first femail to win a PBA major championship. There’s probably another group of up and comers I also haven’t mentioned.
It just seems like such a shame when the game is so rich with talent, that it could be so poor.
The Silver Lining
There are many other great bowlers from the international ranks making their way into our homes…and hearts? For me if there’s one thing that stands out, it’s the fact that professional bowling is growing outside our shores, while shrinking in the States. The stick that measures bowling greatness still remains on our soil, but who knows for how long. I think it’s a great thing that bowling is becoming more global. However, the economy of bowling will be in a very tough state so long as it continues to decline in the #1 country in the world. As we know, as the US goes, as the rest of the world goes. Maybe someday soon that will change, given the shift in world economic power. Leaving that political discussion aside, I still think it’s good for bowling to go global.
I’ll leave it at that for now. I like the notion of the World Series of Bowling on it’s own, creating interest and bringing lots of talent from around the world to one roof so to speak. However, I do not like the fact that it is basically half the PBA season. I also haven’t spent much time on the economic state of the PBA and I don’t have the perspective of the players themselves.
Why don’t you chime in and let me know what you think. Do you agree? Disagree?