Friday, April 29, 2011

Chris Barnes' Outstanding Bowling Commentary

Chris Barnes is one of the greatest bowlers in history. He's also showing himself to be an outstanding bowling commentator. Wednesday night, he was the commentator on ESPN2's telecast of the USBC Queens Championship, and he was excellent, just as he was in last year's Queens and Women's U.S. Open telecasts and as he always is when he sits in on PBA Xtra Frame and USBC webcasts.

The man clearly knows the ins and outs of bowling, has an exceptionally keen eye for what's happening on the lanes, and he has a virtually flawless way of articulating what he knows and sees so that we, the fans, can know and see it too.

When I watch a bowling match, I don't need someone to tell me that so-and-so left the 10 pin or got a strike or spare. I can see that with my own eyes. I want to know WHY the 10 pin stood after what appeared to be a perfect pocket hit, or why so-and-so's ball is carrying strikes while her opponent's ball isn't.

Chris Barnes gives you that information. He talks about how minor variations in release, ball speed, and entry angle can spell the difference between a strike and a pocket 7-10. He can insightfully analyze a bowler's style and strategy in fine detail, and he can tell you what went wrong on an errant shot and what adjustments in equipment, release, alignment, ball speed, or body mechanics the bowler needs to make to get to the pocket and carry. And he manages to do it in a way that keeps me interested and informed without overloading me with information that is too abstruse to understand.

I look forward to any bowling telecast or webcast that features Chris Barnes' commentary, and I hope there will be many more of them. Fortunately, he'll be joining yesterday's Queens play-by-play announcer Dave LaMont next month to cover the finals of the USBC Intercollegiate Championships. The tournament actually concluded last Sunday, April 24, but ESPN2 will be airing it on May 15 at 6 p.m. EDT.

I'll be watching.

What do you think of Chris Barnes' bowling commentary, and who are your favorite bowling commentators of all time?

Below is video of Chris Barnes' commentary for the entire telecast of the 2010 USBC Queens Championship.


  1. I agree completely. I much prefer that he be in the broadcast booth over Pedersen or any of the other expert commentators I've heard over the years. Barnes just does a better job of explaining the game and he's very careful not to demean the players.

    I've often been put off by Pedersen's negative comments about a bowler's plan of attack, or other perceived issue, during a match. Barnes might also point out what he thinks is a better plan of attack, but he does it in a much more palatable manner.

    Hopefully, bowling will continue to be a viable sport far into the future and Barnes will be able to retire from bowling and slide right into a broadcast job.


  2. Kerry, I have the feeling Barnes will be able to do just about anything in the bowling industry he wants to do after he retires from competition. He would no doubt make an excellent coach, broadcaster, ball name it. But I don't think he'll be retiring for a quite a few years yet. He's still too darn good. Unless, of course, he has no choice because the PBA and elite bowling in general go the way of the dinosaur.