Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

The Internet turns 40 on September 2. Well, that means that AlabamaBowling.Com has been around for one-fourth of that time. Alabama's bowling web site is 10 years old on September 1.

As a computer systems engineer by profession, I don't use my right side of the brain too much. That is why the design of the main AlabamaBowling.Com web site has not changed. You can compare the current version of the site to this view from May 24, 2000. I've always believed that 'content is king.' To grow the site, I focused on statistics, stories, bowling associations, tournaments and other keys that would make the site be an authoritative source for information related to bowling in our state. Granted, I could use help with design ideas or a better graphic layout. I welcome your ideas.

I have tried some of the hotter trends in Internet lore; most just didn't seem to work with the normal visitors. I have implemented a discussion forum, hoping to make the site more interactive. Maybe it was too early, but there was no input or discussion being generated. I tried to syndicate the content before RSS became popular. It was not worth updating the headlines if so few people were adding it to their personal or bowling web sites. Some of more popular functions were the contests. I may try that again. Lots of you enjoyed entering simply a name and e-mail address to win a free bowling ball. As I mentioned in the web site privacy policy, I never did anything else with that information. It ended up being deleted.

While there were some idea failures, there have been many successes. Catering to associations to make more of their information readily available on-line has always been a staple of this web site. Once the USBC was created, this was highly encouraged. League standings were posted before or other secretary web sites were doing it. As a personal service, I posted a variety of formats. The league secretary programs export to simple image formats, but I was also posting submissions from league secretaries in Excel, Word, Txt, and PDF. Most of the information from associations' yearbooks are available on the web site. Some associations leverage this more than others. This is the bread and butter for AlabamaBowling.Com; information that can't be found other places. Associations list their honor boards, all city teams, officers, local tournament as well as information that can also be found at This includes final averages and league standings. While some associations are doing a good job of getting the information on-line, they are not adequately promoting the existence of the web site. Luckily, most bowlers know about AlabamaBowling.Com, they 'accidentally' stumble upon the association web site.

After ten years, I still welcome your suggestions. This blog is a new idea. Another web 'fad' that allows opinion and discussion. Please, join us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Ball or the Bowler?

As a swim parent, I have enjoyed watching the major swim meets , when they are actually televised. Whether it is the Olympics, SEC Championships, or the recent World Championships, the drama is exciting for the individual as well as the team.

Hey, this is a bowling blog. Hurry up and tie it together. It seems that the technology versus the athlete debate has come to a head even in the sport of swimming. Remember the mini-controversy and publicity generated over the Plastic Ball Championship? My initial observations on this subject were more directed to the amount of lane oil used today versus the the amount used in the 80's and early 90's. I initially ignored the debate over the tools used. Wood rackets for tennis, plastic balls for bowling, wood drivers in golf seem to be the "good ole days."

What has swimming got to do with this? Well, it seems the swimming's international governing body has banned the new high-tech polyurethane swimming suits that became popular right before the 2008 Olympics.
After months of debate by representatives of FINA’s 201-member countries, suits made of polyurethane-based materials—and suits made of any material extending below the knee and above the navel for men and above the shoulder and below the knee for women—will be outlawed from sanctioned competition. The prohibition doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2010, but it’s already created ripples in the swim world.
The world championships held in Rome last month had 43 world swimming records broken during that meet. Look at the similarities with bowling. Over the past 15 years, season averages are rising fast. 220 was incredible and rare in the early 1990's. Now, a 230 average won't make you one of the top ten bowlers in Alabama. I will make the prediction that by 2020, there will be two 250 average bowlers in Alabama. Newer technology and the center proprietors' willingness to attract, keep, and satisfy the sagging number of league bowlers will lead to this breakthrough.
Almost immediately there were protests from representatives of supersuit manufacturers such as Jason Rance, vice president of marketing for Speedo, who warned that banning the ­high-performance polyurethane suits could “throw the sport back two decades.

Well, can you imagine if the USBC banned an existing product line from a major ball manufacturer? It has happened before. How many remember the Columbia Shur-D? This ball was too 'soft' according to hardness specifications. The Plastic Ball Championships threw the sport back one decade. That was how long the last champion was crowned throwing a plastic ball.

PBA Experience Leagues are only working the lane condition part of the equation. I would love to have a Yellow Dot tournament. Nice idea, but it is too costly. It is hard to get tournament entries now, much less enough bowlers with plastic bowling balls.

Why would you want to buy a wood driver again?