Thursday, February 28, 2013

New USBC 300 Ring?

So many people are bowling sanctioned 300 games these days that the USBC may have to further devalue the ring they award for it, unless you work for Howard Stern and he foots the bill for the gold version.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mike Machuga Criticizes Jason Belmonte After USBC Masters

Jason Belmonte is my favorite bowler without question. I'm tremendously impressed with his physical game and with his mental strength to make the right moves and perform almost flawlessly in pressure packed matches. What's more, as his remarkable USBC Masters victory Sunday attests, he appears to be getting better and better, and I have little doubt that within another year or two he will have risen to the indisputable top of the sport in the eyes of virtually all knowledgeable bowlers and bowling fans.

And not only does he have an amazing physical game, but, from my vantage point as a viewer and reader of bowling media, Belmo has always seemed like one of the most personable people and gracious sportsmen on tour. Yes, I remember the "Bottlegate" brouhahas involving Brad Angelo and Sean Rash, but I could never believe that Belmo was deliberately trying to throw off his opponents by crinkling his water bottles. I chalked up these incidents to nervous habit under the immense pressure of televised competition.

But now there's a new scandal of sorts involving Belmo. Mike Machuga writes about it today in his bowling blog. It concerns a nailbiting match Machuga had with Belmo last week in the Masters in which Machuga had to double in the tenth if he were to hand Belmo his first defeat of the double elimination tournament.

Machuga writes that Belmo kept talking loudly to himself while he, Machuga, was going through his pre-shot routine and finally he chastised Belmo for it, Belmo stormed (no pun intended) away in anger, and, after winning the match following Machuga's failure to strike on his second ball, Belmo approached him to talk about what had happened, yet, instead of apologizing for his distracting actions, he merely berated himself for perpetrating them. I took the gist of Machuga's complaint to be that Belmo keeps doing these kinds of things in competition and then comes across as curiously self-centered in how he responds to criticism over it.

As I say, Jason Belmonte is my favorite bowler, and I never tire of singing his praises on this blog and to my friends and fellow bowlers. So many people seem to be looking for reasons not to give this great bowler his due--for example, he's not American, or the two-handed, thumbless game is not "real bowling"--that my heart sinks when I hear people calling him a "cheater" and a "jerk," and I still don't believe for a single moment that he's either.

But I hope he finds a better way to stand up to the pressure of competition than to do things that so blatantly distract his fellow bowlers at their most vulnerable moments. Until he does that, it looks like he'll be under a cloud, and it's a cloud to which he doesn't seem impervious. I believe that he feels quite bothered by these criticisms and disparagements--bothered all the way to the bank to cash his championship checks.

Friday, February 1, 2013

PBA Has YouTube Videos Removed

"So lame. The PBA should be doing all they can to promote the art of bowling, not stifle it. Instead, they have their own paid video subscription service on their website. I'm about as big a bowling fan as you can get, but I will not pay the PBA to have access to their video library." -- YouTube comment

The PBA has purportedly persuaded YouTube to remove one private source's posted videos of all recent televised championships because of copyright infringement. Now I'm the first to admit that I don't know how the copyrighting of televised sports content works. More particularly, I don't know what the legal technicalities happen to be concerning the uploading to YouTube of PBA telecasts carried by ESPN and other networks.

What I do know is that we bowling fans who miss the telecasts or who don't subscribe to cable or who live abroad could almost always find them on YouTube a day or so after the telecast. This suggests that even if it technically violated copyright law to place this content on YouTube without the PBA's consent, the powers-that-be, who were surely aware of what was going on, looked the other way instead of enforcing the law governing this matter.

And it stands to reason that they would. PBA telecasts, unlike movies and music that you buy and watch or listen to any time you wish, are generally shown once only ESPN or on whatever other network they might happen to appear, unless they reappear on an "oldies" channel years afterward. Of course, it's true that a bowling fan devoted enough to fork out the money for a paid subscription to PBA Xtra Frame can watch these telecasts on demand there. But what seems doubtful is that most people who want to see a PBA telecast after it airs are going to subscribe to Xtra Frame in order to watch it there.

So, why did the PBA do this? Did they think that if people can't watch these telecasts on TV when they air, they'll subscribe to Xtra Frame to watch them or that they'll be more motivated to watch them when they air instead of thinking they can always catch them later on YouTube? Or does the PBA plan to post them to YouTube themselves, as they have in the past, and they don't want any competition from private parties? I don't know, even though I'm going to try to find out.

At this point, I don't want to second guess the PBA. They are struggling to prosper in a marketplace filled with diverse competition for the public's time and money, and I don't blame them for doing what they think is best for the cause. I just hope it's wise to deny potential viewers the opportunity to view the telecasts after the fact on YouTube when it seems to me that the PBA wouldn't want to tick people off or reduce the public's exposure to their product. And if it isn't so wise, I hope they reverse course or at least post the videos in question to YouTube themselves via the PBA Channel before too long.

Stay tuned for further developments on this front.