You can look at this in two very different ways. I only bowl in one league per week. I seem to bowl in more unsanctioned tournaments than sanctioned tournaments. Now, the USBC is cutting the awards program even more. What's in it for me? How do we convince our friends and co-workers to join us for a night out each week in league bowling to grow the sport? Does our company league really need to be sanctioned? This seems tough to give a convincing argument.
As a community, we are supporting the sport of bowling by paying our membership dues. The USBC provides the rules and standards for the game. They ensure the quality of the playing field in our sport. Can you imagine if bowling follows the eventual evolution of the boutique bowling experience? A nicer facility will be an advantage, but it will be just a place for a nice date night. Bowling is just an activity for a night out with friends and mixed drinks. Bowling in tight dresses and the latest fashions will just be a setting, not a competition. Who then would care if the lanes have arrows, pins are different weights, or oil on the lanes at all? We are not competing, we are having fun. It is a date, a corporate bonding event, or a long lunch. Boutique bowling will be to the sport of bowling as miniature golf is to golf.
However, how many play golf but are not members of the USGA? It is another competitive activity which we thrive to get better, much like bowling. I would like to know my handicap, but I don't have to join the USGA to calculate it or endorse it. But, my golf experience would only be equivalent to my bowling experience if I only open bowled or bowled practice games. I would know my average, but it would not be under any sort of competitive conditions, much like my walks on the golf course, just spending 3 or 4 hours hitting the golf course. The USGA is healthy, while the USBC is not. We must bowl in sanctioned competitions, pay our sanction fees, recruit new bowlers just for the sport to survive.
Is it really important for the USBC to have an awards program? They have wisely removed the 11 in a row award.
"Given that more than 50,000 certified perfect games are rolled in a typical season, the board agrees it is unnecessary for the national governing body to provide awards for near perfection with the 11-in-a-row,"Do you get an award for a hole-in-one? A tournament may offer a prize for one, but there is no USGA ring for an ace. Now, what do local bowling associations do? They mistakenly take up the former task of the national organization. They expand their awards to cover all the awards that the USBC has dropped. With fewer sanctioned bowlers, they have increased their costs by offering more and more awards. We have to remove this preconception that our sanction is only paying for awards. Where are your patches, pins, medals, and rings? I bet they are in a drawer somewhere. This is getting to be the adult equivalent of the participation trophy that all kids in most sports get just for being part of the team; whether champion or last place.
I can understand why the USBC is going to a once-in-a-lifetime award for 300 games and 800 series. It is not the unique event it was two decades ago. Some people get into their local association hall of fame by bowling a handful of such scores. We must raise the bar on these qualifications. As I have mentioned before, par is no longer 200. Par bowling is now 230 and quickly rising more. If you want to improve, compete, and be an elite bowler, par bowling must always be just more than what you average. If you want another 300 ring or 800 ring for another finger, just go to eBay and get one. The ones that will be hard to find, as I wouldn't sell mine either, are the ones awarded from the ABC/USBC national tournament, PBA tournaments, or sport shot leagues and tournaments. Those are the awards that will last in our memories.