Saturday, June 23, 2012
Reno is now hosting the 2012 BPAA U.S. Women's Open at the National Bowling Stadium. Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg is defending her championship that she won last year in the novel venue of Cowboys Stadium by defeating Kelly Kulick in the final match. This year's televised finals, albeit shown on ESPN2 six days after the fact, will be held in the even more unusual venue of outdoors under the famous Reno Arch.
As you can see from reading entries such as this, I covered last year's Open with considerable enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, I blogged a lot here about the PBA, women's tournaments, junior tournaments, international adult and junior tournaments, and bowling in general for a couple of years.
But I finally began to lose my enthusiasm not for the sport so much as for the haphazard way the bowling industry itself seems to conduct and promote it. I figured if they didn't care enough to do a better job of promoting, covering, and fostering elite level bowling in this country and, as a result, people don't care that much about the sport to follow it, why should I bother to blog about it? Why even people who call themselves bowling fans seem to suffer from a serious enthusiasm problem, and very few appear to regularly watch bowling telecasts much less read blogs such as this one, so, again, why should I spend a lot of time writing blogposts when almost no one cares enough to read them?
As an example of my displeasure with the way the bowling industry is handling their sport, I posted the following comment just a few minutes ago to the USBC's Facebook wall in connection with their coverage of this year's Open. It echoes, to a considerable degree, this blogpost of mine from a while back. A PBA representative took private issue with that blogpost. He said the bowling industry is doing all it reasonably can to promote the PBA and bowling in general. What do you think?
Elite women's and, for that matter, men's bowling is in a sad state in this country even as it seems to be growing in popularity in other parts of the world. I agree...that the PBA seems to be hanging on by its fingernails, and there's certainly no indication that any kind of women's professional tour will be coming back. And although many will disagree with me, I think part of the reason for this is that the bowling industry has not made as concerted an attempt as it might to publicize and popularize the sport but, rather, continues on with business as depressingly usual.
I'm not sure what it would take, but maybe if they hired the best PR and advertising minds to barrage the media with compelling commercials, human interest stories, and intelligent and entertaining treatments of bowling, rather than the occasional clownish parody, in television series and movies, more participants and viewers could be brought into the fold. As it is now, bowling and bowlers "don't get no respect," and they should, if people had any idea how challenging bowling really is at the elite level.
One thing I find so disheartening is that bowling seems to get so little respect even from bowling organizations and sponsors. For instance, the BPAA, God bless 'em, is sponsoring the U.S. Women's Open, yet they don't seem to be willing or able to get the finals aired live. We have to wait several days after the fact to see them, and, of course, by then only the most hardcore bowling fan will tune in because everyone else with any interest in the results but not enough to watch a seriously delayed broadcast AFTER learning the results will already know the results and won't bother. What's more, the USBC website's coverage of the tournament seems like a confusing maze. Their videos are great, and Lucas's herculean one-man coverage is to be roundly applauded, but where the hell are the results encompassing ALL the bowlers and not just the top 49? And why can't the BPAA and/or USBC, in the interests of fan interest, provide help to Lucas and the USBC website in tracking results as they occur instead of us having to wait hours to find out how the bowlers are scoring?
If even national bowling organizations and sponsors don't respect their sport enough to give it professional level coverage, how can they expect the public at large to respect it enough to follow it and participate in it? We need a real shakeup in the bowling industry in this country, or elite level bowling here seems all but doomed!