ABC Tournament Deserves Page in History of Sports
February 7, 2003
Great sporting events like the World Series, Rose Bowl, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl and Final Four are recognized as part of America's proud heritage. Unfortunately, history as not etched a page for the American Bowling Congress' National Championship Tournament, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The ABC Championship Tournament, which started Saturday and will run for 135 consecutive days in Knoxville, Tenn., Should be part of American Sports lore for two valid reasons:
The first ABC National Championship Tournament was contested in 1901, the Rose Bowl in 1902, the World Series in 1903, Stanley Cup in 1918, Final Four in 1939 and the Super Bowl in 1967.
The ABC Championship Tournaments have drawn more than 2½ million contestants, including 61,000 bowlers this year, which makes it America's largest participation event.
The ABC tournament has grown over the decades despite taking three years off for World War II. It started in Chicago with a meager 115 entries and drew a record 85,664 bowlers to Reno in 1993. So has the prize fund mushroomed...from an original $1,592 to almost $4.5 million for its 100th anniversary tournament.
The 2003 tournament will feature entries from all 50 states plus five countries. Ohio will send the most teams (997). They started constructing the bowling facility inside the Knoxville Convention Center Jan. 2 and it took them until Feb. 3 to build the 48 lanes needed for the ABC Tournament itself and an additional 12 lanes for Storm side tournaments.
More than a million games will be bowled on those 60 lanes. There is so much wood involved in the construction that when the tournament ends June 22, there will be enough lumber available to build three average size houses for Knoxville's Habitat Humanity.
So move over World Series and Super Bowl, the ABC National Championship Tournament is in a celebrating mood and deserves a page in American sports history.
PBA Takes On Daytona 500
The PBA, which spent 12 weeks going up against the powerful National Football League in a battle for TV viewers, will take on NASCAR and the legendary Daytona 500 auto race next Sunday (Feb. 16). The 90-minute live PBA telecast from Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando will start at 12:30 p.m. and be carried by ESPN. The Daytona 500 race will start 30 minutes later and 60 miles to the northeast. It will take about three hours for the cars to cover the 500 miles, depending primarily on weather, wrecks and speed.
But the new PBA has proved it can hold its own against TV heavyweights. Why? Primarily because of great bowlers like Walter Ray Williams.
No question about it, Williams has been bowling great especially in major tournaments this year. He won $50,000 by finishing second in the ABC Masters Tournament. Two weeks later he won the U.S. Open and took home $100,000. Think about that feat for a moment. He faced about 900 rivals in those two tournaments and finished first and second. And he did it on the tough lane conditions that resulted in the bulk of both fields averaging below 200. The U.S. Open victory pushed his career win total to 36 and his earnings to over $3 million.
The word around Disney World is that Walter Ray Williams has been working out with the young thoroughbred colts stabled around Ocala, where he lives. Not sure about that, but Williams has been running like a thoroughbred this season.
And he's going to be hard to catch.