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WIBC Faces Most Crucial Convention; SARS Fear Spreads; ABC on Bal

April 24, 2003

RENO, Nev. -- The most important convention of the Women's International  Bowling Congress since the WIBC was founded in 1916 begins Monday at the Reno Convention Center.

Since its inception, the WIBC has taken a back seat to its predominately male counterpart - the American Bowling Congress, which was established in 1895.  But all that could change during the WIBC convention if the anticipated 3,500 delegates can make a big leap of faith and approve the controversial Single Membership proposal.     

Last month in Knoxville, the ABC delegates voted down the Single Membership proposal and that has opened the door for the WIBC delegates to change the face of future league bowling.  If the WIBC delegates, by a two-third vote, approve the Single Membership proposal then they would join with the USA Bowling and Young American Bowling Alliance and form the United States Bowling Congress. The powerful Bowling Proprietors Association of America, already has said it supports the formation of the United States Bowling Congress. 

So the WIBC delegates have everything to gain and nothing to lose if they support the Single Membership proposal.  But first they must rescind a decision they made at last year's convention in Milwaukee not to vote on the Single Membership proposal until the 2004 convention in Wichita, Kan.  If history is to be made, please let it be made in colorful Reno and not colorless Wichita.  New WIBC Sylvia Broyles picked a tough convention to make her debut at wielding the gavel. But people who know are confident she will be up to the challenge, and challenging it surely will be this year.

 I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising sports book in Reno doesn't post odds on the WIBC's Single Membership vote.  I think I might risk a few dollars if I could find a book that would give me 10-1 odds that the WIBC delegates will approve Single Membership.  

I hope it happens, but I doubt it even will be close.  As one person stated in his/her Email: "Good article on WIBC - wish it would do some good but don't think the delegates are reading anything that might convince them."


 Then another reader responded to something I had written about the SARS epidemic that has been sweeping through Asia and now has brought fear to Toronto.  "The SARS issue is a concern for more than just The Professional Bowlers Association. The World Championships are scheduled for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September and I think it (the SARS scare) is possibly going to affect the number of countries attending.  "Malaysia doesn't have a lot of cases but it's the flying across the world for many that will be the problem. A lot of the connections will be thru Asia. It's tough,  a World Championship is only run every four years. The last one in UAE had 60-plus entries. "This is tough for players who have worked hard to make the team and getting ready for a World Championship. It's tough for the federations -- do they make reservations and maybe forfeit thousands of dollars if the tournament is canceled or delayed, or do they wait to see what happens and pay more for airfares.  "This is tough times we live in!"

Then I got a note from Kyle Burns after I sent an Email to Roger Vessell at Columbia about what impact the SARS problem was having on its bowling business in Asia. Here is what Burns had to say: "Roger Vessell forwarded your e-mail to me and asked that I respond regarding your question. To this point the SARS problem has had a minimal impact on our business in South East Asia. However, according to my contacts in the area, fewer  people are spending their time in bowling and shopping centers. Instead, they are  opting for home entertainment.  "We have not yet seen a decrease in the amount of orders from that region. In fact, we are receiving orders for our new products such as the Scout/R Blue/Gold Pearl, Beast Master and new Jekyll and Hyde line of balls, which is a positive sign.  " We are very concerned with this new virus and hope that a cure is found soon.  If you have any additional questions regarding how SARS is impacting our global bowling sales, please do not hesitate to contact me." 

    Averaging Only 171.1

I read and heard a lot of griping last year by bowling purists about the astronomical high scores coming out of the ABC National Championship Tournament in Billings, Mont.  Every time a new honor score was rolled someone would knock the bowler's achievement.  But I haven't seen anyone writing the relatively low scores coming out of the ABC National Championship Tournament in Knoxville this year. 

If you missed it, check out this note sent out by the very efficient ABC media crew:  "As of April 16, more than 44 million pins have been knocked down in 260,593 games for an average of 171.1"

Please pay close attention to that last figure - a 171.1 tournament average.  What happened to all those super-talented league bowlers?  Did the they leave their powerful bowling balls at home?  Did they forget how to roll strikes while in Tennessee?  Did they forget how to make spares in the beautiful Knoxville Convention Center?  Did they suffer a mental letdown going from Montana to Tennessee?  Or did the ABC just put down a tougher scoring condition?    If so, then someone should be writing about it.  Don't forget 171.1 is just the average. Since there had been only 52 honor scores rolled as of April 16, that means a whole lot of bowlers didn't come close to averaging 171.1.

But I bet they had a good time and will sign up for the ABC Tournament again next year in Reno at the National Bowling Stadium.  You can't beat tradition, and the ABC National Championship is overflowing with tradition whether the scoring is high or not so high.