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Traditional women's league bowling the way it was back 30 years ago is on the verge of extinction. When ABC made it possible for WIBC bowlers to join leagues that were formed for men only, most higher average women migrated to them. They were soon followed by medium and even beginner bowlers as the leagues designed for men began to look a lot like mixed leagues.
What seems to be left in most bowling centers is one or two traditional leagues for women with only a small fraction of bowlers compared to the old days. The teams are made of the very old, middle aged daughters of the very old and people who don’t want to be there. Of course there still is that one team or two that will win every year and make any new teams feel uncomfortable and very likely to drop before the next season begins.
If there was a women’s tour it would now feature the best ladies to ever pick up a bowling ball. The top 1% of women is amazing, when compared years of past. People like Kelly Kulick, Liz Johnson, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Missy Parkin can and will hold up their own when paired up with their male counterparts. The problem is that if we asked each of the 71 million people who go bowling every year who these ladies were you would get a deer-in-headlights looks from most of them.
What can save bowing’s future when it comes to the top players is high school and college bowling. As an industry we need to do as much as possible to showcase not only the ladies but the men at this level. High school and collegiate bowling might even save league bowling for women, if bowling centers across the nation come up with something other than the traditional 3 game, 5 person team, 80% HDCP league for them to bowl in.
These young people are competitive and shoeing it up with great-aunt Flo doesn’t appeal to them. Shoeing it up with a bunch of middle aged and old men who think that they are only there for their viewing pleasure might not go over well either. What might appeal to them is scratch leagues, baker formats, Petersen Points Systems, Sport Shots, Traveling Leagues…... For the lower averaging 50% of high school and college bowlers, fun short season leagues with music over the lanes and glow bowling might do the trick. As they form families, fun adult/youth and couples leagues can’t hurt either.
Corporations are spending millions of dollars for 30 second ad’s during the Super Bowl. Sooner or later the people making decisions about advertising dollars (with our help) should and will come our way to get the most bang for their buck. While that 30 second ad might get a little talk over the water cooler for a week or two, what they spend for 30 seconds could build customers for life if spent promoting bowling. Can you imagine what 3 or 4 million dollars could do for women’s college bowling and for the corporations’ bottom line? Win/Win’s work, all we need is to sign up one or two of these types of companies and other will follow.
Bottom-line when it comes to the state of women’s bowling and bowling in general we must diversify to thrive. What once was will never be again but that doesn’t mean all negative and no positive. Change always and should happen, being stuck in the past too long has hurt us. We let scores get out of hand so much and for so long that the integrity of our game is in question. It is the youth of today that can change things and the old guard must accept this change for the betterment of the sport. Giving them what they want when it came to scoring hurt us. Giving them want they want when it comes to formats can save us. Nobody will ever ask “What’s Old?” just “What’s New?”.
Lewis Sims, Director of Fun and Owner Operator
Dynasty Lanes 3105 St. Rt. 103 Willard Ohio 44890
Phone: (419)935-1394 Fax: (419)933-0084