Thursday, July 26, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jason Belmonte Answers Pro Wrestler Vin Gerard's Bowling Challenge

"Vin Gerard, allow ME to introduce MYSELF. I'm Jason Belmonte, and I'm a pro bowler. And you're going to remember that name. It's gonna be like the bell ringing between your ears...the same bell as when your opponents pin you in the're gonna remember that name like a headache for the rest of your life."

I posted a video the other day of a pro wrestler challenging PBA bowlers to a bowling match. Well, Jason Belmonte has stepped up and answered the call. Do you think the match will ever take place, and what do you think will happen if and when it does? Finally, does the PBA and bowling in general gain from THIS kind of publicity, or is virtually any publicity better than none at all at this point?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bowling Video--Pro Wrestler Challenges PBA Bowlers

He's issued the challenge. Are you quaking in your bowling shoes, Sean, Jason, Mike, or Chris?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bowling Video--Musical Celebration of 2012 World Youth Championships

BPAA Director Steve Johnson and Stefanie Nation Defend 2012 U.S. Women's Open Finals Venue

Many people besides me have been talking in public forums about the U.S. Women's Open, including BPAA Executive Director Steve Johnson who unabashedly says that he's the one who takes sole responsibility for greenlighting the venue, and I'd like to direct your attention to some of these discussions.

A great discussion can be found here at Here is one of several comments by the BPAA executive director:

The 5 ladies that made the show did not withdraw because they are elite athletes that have a competitive side that drives them to persevere and tackle any challenge that confronts them.
They are very classy and great ambassadors for our industry and I am proud of all of them. As I told them they are all champions in my eyes.

Having this event in Reno and on the streets was 100% my call. Don't blame the BPAA blame me.
How many people are talking about the Queens event a few weeks ago? How many people are talking about the 2010 Womens US Open and the pattern they bowled on? The answer is simple, no one.

This industry has to wake up and do some things differently. Did we purposely put dust on the lanes and turn a wind machine on? Not a chance. We staged a major event under one of the greatest icons that shouts Americana in a city that has invested millions into our sport.

Your classifying this as a disaster is your opinion but as you stated unlike our great athletes you would have refused to bowl. If they would have followed your lead and quit, we would have had a disaster but fortunately their professionalism and willingness to do what is best for our sport kept them focused on capturing the championship.  

It has been 1 week since the event and people are talking about it which is about 6 days longer than most events get discussed For those that are talking good or bad about the event, thank you for doing so.

Steve johnson
Executive director of the bpaa

And here is an eloquent critique of the finals from a forum member:

What bowler -- professional or amateur -- in the entire world, in the entire history of bowling, have you ever known or heard of who practices or has ever trained for bowling on a mountain of dust and debris on the bowling lanes?

No one does this.  No one ever has done this.  And no one ever will do this.

What the BPAA brought was a complete disaster.  It was not bowling.

To say that it was "fair" because all contestants faced the same conditions is disingenuous.  You could have removed the lanes and set the pins on the pavement on 3rd Street.  It would have been "fair" because all the bowlers would have faced the same conditions.  But at what point does it cross the line and no longer be a test of BOWLING?

The wind alone was enough of a distraction.  The women's hair was blowing in their faces.  In what bowling center anywhere in the world has that ever been an issue even once?

How does a player train for or prepare for what they faced on the telecast last night?

I know you worked for the BPAA during the tournament, so I recognize that you have a stake in the public's perception of this event.  But I'm telling you as someone who has been bowling since 1957, THIS WAS NOT BOWLING, and it most certainly was NOT FAIR TO THE CONTESTANTS.

It was a gimmick, and it cheapened the event.

Oh, it made it a spectacle, alright.  I know that's what the BPAA was going for.  But at what cost?  How did it promote bowling?  How did it promote women's bowling?

Let me tell what I would do if I was in a tournament and made the TV show, only to find that the lanes were covered in a mountain of dust.  I would have withdrawn.  I would have withdrawn right there on national television and let the whole world know that I was not about to stand for this, the money be damned.

The BPAA is a laughingstock as it is already.  They have had their way with bowling for the past thirty years, and look where it's gotten the sport.  What was once easily the most popular recreational sport in the nation is now an afterthought.  And it's largely because the BPAA has dictated the terms on which bowling's rules are formed.  While the old ABC used to govern the sport with an iron fist (and the game flourished), the minute the BPAA got the power to force the USBC to back down and let the proprietors decide what's best for the sport, it's no longer a top tier sport in America.

That's no coincidence.

I am not a fan of the BPAA, as you can clearly see.  They have done more damage to the sport of bowling than any other agency in the industry.  And this latest event is just another example of a governing body run amok.

I feel sorry for the women that they had to put up with it.  If I'd been in their shoes, I'd have walked off the telecast in protest without a second of hesitation.

It was simply not a test of any skill for which any professional bowler has ever in their life trained.

How can you possibly call that bowling?

And below is an interview that Kegel's Gus Falgien conducted with Stefanie Nation and BPAA Executive Director Steve Johnson.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Final Thoughts on 2012 U.S. Women's Open Fiasco, With Complete Video

                                                 (Photo from

Well, the telecast has aired, and now I can openly congratulate Kelly Kulick for winning her third U.S. Women's Open without spoiling the suspense for any of my readers. I can also offer some concluding comments about the whole messy business after having seen it, or at least most of it, with my own eyes.

I say "at least most of it," because one of my gripes, shared by many, is that ESPN2 cut out several frames of the competition in order to squeeze two hours worth of bowling action into 90 minutes. I seem to recall that last year's telecast was two hours and didn't edit out any frames, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

However, now that I've watched the telecast (and you can too below if you haven't seen it already or you want to see it again), what more is there to say that I haven't said already? Quite a lot, actually, but I'll try to keep it relatively brief.

First of all, I confess to being pleasantly surprised that things didn't turn out worse than they appeared to. I half expected to see a swirling dust storm all but blocking out our view of the action at times and sending papers and other debris flying past the bowlers and landing on the lanes and having to be removed between shots. And I more than half expected to see the ladies throwing balls that hooked off the lanes even though they were plastic, losing their footing on the dusty approaches, and looking really flustered at times. Instead, I saw consummate poise and professionalism from all the competitors as they as gracefully as humanly possible posted hapless shot after shot and made the best of a terrible situation and scored amazingly well under the circumstances. I have nothing but unbounded respect and admiration for how well Lynda, Shannon, Stefanie, Missy, and Kelly handled it all and how gracious the runners-up were afterward.

Second, I want to repeat what I've said before. I think Dave LaMont and Chris Barnes are the best announcing team in bowling today, and I'd love to see them doing ESPN's PBA telecasts together (Randy Pedersen could be there too) when Chris doesn't make the finals. They too made the best of a bad situation with that telecast.

Now, with due praise delivered, it's time to get to the criticism. I begin by asking, What were they thinking when they decided to hold the finals in a dusty wind tunnel? Don't tell me they had no way of knowing what the weather would be like when they planned things. Reno is a windy place all year round and any respectable meteorologist could have told them that if only they'd asked. Or perhaps they did ask but didn't care when they got the answer. Perhaps they were so busy falling all over themselves shouting, "They can bowl outside by the Reno Arch. How cool is THAT?!" that they didn't give the integrity of the bowlers and the competition a second thought.

I'm guessing they were thinking that bowling outside in that venue would inject a WOW factor that would put women's bowling on the map and draw more onlookers to the actual event as well as more viewers to the telecast. But is there any good reason or evidence to suggest that it would or did? How many extra viewers do they think the telecast actually drew because of where it took place, especially when the telecast was aired almost a week after the fact and everybody knew the outcome? Why do they keep showing these ballyhooed events a week or so late?. Yes, I've heard from someone who should know that showing these events live doesn't seem to affect the ratings any, but I'm not sure how they came to that definitive conclusion. I can't help but think that last year's finals in Cowboys Stadium with its one million dollar offer for a perfect game in the final match would have drawn more viewers had they been shown live.

I discussed this yesterday with someone very much in the bowling industry, and he said, as others have said, that they should have added the money they spent on constructing those outdoor lanes to the prize fund instead and held the finals in the ready-to-go National Bowling Stadium. That way, the finalists would have bowled on conditions at least similar to what they mastered to get them to the finals, they would still have been doing it in a great venue, and they could have used the special occasion to showcase the bowling stadium and talk about the extensive renovations planned for it that will make it an even more spectacular place for tournaments of every stripe in the years to come. Instead, they turned arguably the most prestigious women's bowling tournament on Earth into a freak show.

But, say some defenders of the format, they were all battling the same conditions, and, besides, the U.S. Open SHOULD be tough. Well, does this mean that we should move, say, the NHL Championship game to an outdoor parking lot filled with cracks and crevasses, outfit the players in antiquated field hockey gear and roller skates, and decide the championship THAT way? Or should we make the bowlers throw every shot between their legs to create that WOW factor and make it "tough" on them the way a U.S. Open should be?

Kelly Kulick averaged a blistering 240 + over qualifying and match play to achieve the top seed. Now maybe that was higher than the conditions of any U.S.Open worthy of the name should have allowed, but she should have been able to use the skills in the final match that brought her to it, and not have to resort to throwing plastic with no hand as straight as possible over 25 board and leaving 5-8-10's. The whole thing was a travesty.

As I said, and as you will see if you check out the videos below, the ladies were gracious afterward. And as I disclosed in a previous entry, some of them came to the defense of the BPAA, who sponsored and ran the tournament, because they were just grateful to get any chance to bowl for decent money anymore and were afraid that criticism could take even THAT away from them.

Well, what do you think? Do you think the BPAA will be scared away by all the criticism from sponsoring the event next year and nobody else will step up to the plate? Should we bowlers and bowling fans just keep our mouths shut, unless we have effusive praise for a bowling event and its sponsors, and just take it the way we get it and be happy that we get anything at all?

I think we can be pretty sure of one thing. If there is a U.S. Women's Open next year, and I pray that there is, the bowling ball manufacturers will probably make sure that they're held in a venue where the ladies can show off the latest, fanciest new balls on the market instead of ragged polyester equipment savaged by parking lot conditions. And hopefully the highest game of the stepladder finals will exceed 182.

You can watch the entire telecast in the first video below, followed by brief interviews with all the participants afterwards.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shannon O'Keefe and Stefanie Nation Respond to My Comments About U.S. Women's Open Finals

People continue to express opinions on last Wednesday's controversial finals of the U.S. Women's Open. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me briefly explain that five women made the stepladder finals after progressing through several qualifying and match play rounds in Reno's National Bowling Stadium. However, rather than conduct the stepladder finals in the Stadium, the people who put on the tournament decided to hold the finals outdoors on lanes terminating at the Reno Arch. I guess they thought this would create more excitement and draw more spectators to the site of the finals as well as attract a bigger viewing audience to the televised presentation of it the following Tuesday.

No doubt they were right in their thinking. There may well have been as much excitement surrounding last Tuesday's finals as any big tournament has ever generated, and there may be more interest, at least among those who know about it, in the upcoming broadcast than there's ever been before.

The problem is, the bowling took place in a wind and sand storm that had all the competitors using plastic balls for their strike and spare shots early on and struggling like mad to make even simple spares. Consequently, there have been many criticisms directed at the people who approved and ran the tournament, and there have been defenses on their behalf.

Yet, until yesterday, I hadn't seen any of the actual finalists answer any of these criticisms. But then I posted some criticism on Dave LaMont's (the Play-by-Play TV announcer of the televised finals) Facebook wall, and, immediately thereafter, Shannon O'Keefe and Stefanie Nation responded. Here is the exchange:

Dave LaMont: A night of bowling like no other before, a major championship decided in a once in a lifetime atmosphere but with rough desert conditions in Reno. I called it "Survivor-Reno" and you can see the challenges five remarkable bowlers, Kelly Kulick, Melissa Bellinder-Parkin, Shannon O'Keefe, Stefanie Nation and Lynda Norry Barnes battle it out July 3 at 8 Eastern on ESPN2

Me: I thought even before the fact that it was ridiculous to hold the finals outdoors because of the weather conditions, and I got booted out of BowlTV's live streaming chat and unsubscribed from BowlTV for saying it aloud. But it looks like my opinion was vindicated by the ensuing debacle Wednesday night. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to seeing the finals on TV as much or more than I've ever looked forward to seeing ANY bowling telecast over the past 50 years. The problem is, I'm not sure if I and other people are looking forward to it for the right reason. We should be looking forward to seeing the best female bowlers on the planet use their best equipment, smarts, and physical skills to show what they can do against each other on conditions not altogether dissimilar to what they bowled on to earn their way into the finals. But, instead, we're looking forward to seeing a comedy of errors in which crazy wind and dust storms reduce arguably the most prestigious women's tournament of the season in the whole wide world into an unprecedented farce. :-/

Shannon O'Keefe:  Hello Steve....I understand your opinion but from one of the ladies that had this incredible opportunity I look at tho show as a blessing and a triumph! Were the conditions crazy...sure but again I'm beyond grateful we have been given the opportunities to continue women's bowling. The how was an amazing experience and one that I will NEVER forget...the atmosphere and energy of the crowd was incredible....does everyone wish scores were higher...sure but I can tell u I have never been so nervous to shoot a! I know everyone had an opinion and they are more than entitled to it, but please from a woman who has very few opportunities to bowl, let's embrace this experience and show...I don want all the nay Sayers to ruin future opportunities for all!Stefanie Nation:  I second Shannon's comments. I do understand your perspective and agree with it to an extent, but Having said that, it truly was a challenge and certainly QUITE the experience.... The intentions of the venue were absolutely the right ones and we very well knew we could not control mother nature. People will be talking about this a while and yes, whether it be for the 'right' reasons, who knows. Press is Press. Josh Blanchard falling in the gutter on the PBA telecast got bowling all over the web. Tom Daugherty shooting 99 was chirped about for months. It's all said and done so I'm hopeful that you will watch the show and help boost ratings for our sport!

Me: Well, Shannon, your firsthand perspective of the event should certainly carry immensely more weight than mine, and I greatly appreciate reading it. I watched the live streaming all throughout the tournament and was tremendously impressed with how well you and the other finalists bowled during qualifying and match play. However, I just want to clarify that I'm not saying you ladies weren't blessed to have this opportunity over none at all, and I can well imagine that the excitement level soared to heights never before felt. But I'm just hoping that there's another U.S. Women's Open next year and that this time the powers-that-be decide to hold it in conditions that, no matter how novel and exciting, still allow you ladies to make full use of your best equipment and skills on lane conditions that are at least somewhat similar to what you bowled and excelled on all week, not just so that you'll shoot higher scores but also so that you'll be showcased at your very best as the fantastic bowlers that you are.

Me: Thank you too, Stefanie. You bet I'll be watching Tuesday night! I wouldn't miss it for the world! :-) And I'll be posting about it on my bowling blog as soon thereafter as I can.

Shannon O'Keefe: Agreed with stefanie and one more note...we had two practice sessions before the show started and both of those practice sessions were a matter of fact I put surface on one of my balls when we practiced from 11-1. Chris and Cathy came around and asked us right before the show started what we were planning on using and what we would switch to....however once the show started and the sun went down...the wind picked up an half way through the first match the unexpected was not malicious and we were all beyond excited for the opportunity!!! So again I understand all the opinions out there an I respect them and good or bad at least we have people talking about bowling and isn't that what all of us want!!!! 

I guess I'll let the comments above speak for themselves until after we all have a chance to watch the televised finals tomorrow night (7/3) on ESPN2 at 8PM Eastern. After that, I'm sure I'll have more to say and perhaps even be able to embed videos of the telecast in my blogpost for those who want to watch the action there.