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WIBC May Benefit as ABC Fumbles Ball; Walter Ray Slated to Compete

March 17,  2003
Knoxville, Tenn. 

 In a stunning miscue at the goal line, the American Bowling Congress delegates fumbled the ball on the proposed Single Membership plan to merge all segments of bowling.

That bobble will give the Women's International Bowling Congress delegates a chance to score a winning touchdown April 29 in Reno if they can come up with the necessary two-thirds approval vote. "It will be a rare opportunity for women to control a major sport if the delegates are smart enough to realize that key factor during their convection", said a writer in the media area of the Knoxville Convention Center Friday afternoon.

If the leadership of the WIBC can get their delegates to rescind a motion passed last year that would delay the vote on the Single Membership proposal until the 2004 convention, then there's a good chance they can come up with the necessary two-third vote that would make the United States Bowling Congress a reality in 2004. Roseann Kuhn, executive director of the 1.3-million member WIBC organization, said at a Friday news conference that "our leadership still believes in the merger and will do everything possible to move forward on the proposal."

The Young American Bowling Alliance and USA Bowling already have signed on to the United States Bowling Congress proposal that would have united all four segments of bowling's 4.5- million members. 

Monday the WIBC issued a release quoting Kuhn as saying, "if our delegations approves the plan to create USBC it will be an organization serving men, women and youth bowlers in this country.  "We can be instrumental in becoming the national governing body for bowling. This is a tremendous opportunity for women to help dictate how this game is played and how we move forward in helping the sport grow," said Kuhn, who seemed to this writer to be energized by the ABC's rejection of USBC.

Here are a couple scenarios about what possibly could happen to the bowling game that was first organized by men in 1895:

  •        The WIBC delegates approve the merge plan and will probably be the controlling voice when the USBC board is formed and later recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body.
  •        If the WIBC delegates also turn down the proposal then the Bowling Proprietors Association of America may elect to  take over organized league bowling and receive USOC recognition as the national governing body.
  •       Left out in the cold if the WIBC delegates vote yes, the ABC would suffer membership loss to the United States Bowling Congress, would have to dip into its $10 million reserve in order to survive and would be hard pressed to get its delegates to revisit the Single Membership proposal again.  But a yes vote by the WIBC delegates also would put a financial strain on the WIBC's $8 million surplus since it may have to divide the home headquarters in Greendale, Wis., split up the staffs, print new league and tournament information and fight over bowlers.

In this writers' opinion, the ABC delegates made a drastic mistake by voting to protect their own turf and not for the good of the game.

The ABC vote may come back to haunt the organization that has been the rules making organization for the entire bowling industry since 1895.

What a shame.  Hopefully, the WIBC delegates will vote with their minds and not their hearts in Reno next month.  The bowling industry has lost over five million organized league bowlers in the past 20 years and changes must be made now.

     No. 1 Pro to Bowl

Walter Ray Williams, who nailed down PBA Player of the 2002-2003 season by winning three times, is scheduled to compete in the Jimmy Russell Memorial Southern Regional PBA Tournament March 28-30 at Coquina Lanes in Palm Coast.

Williams, who lives in Ocala, is scheduled to be joined by defending champion Steve Wilson of Lake Worth and two superstars from nearby Clermont - Jason Couch and Norm Duke.

The pro-am event opened to juniors, seniors and adult bowlers will be held from 2 to 11 p.m. on Friday March 28. The pros start qualifying at 8 a.m. on Saturday March 29 with the leaders returning Sunday March 30 at 7:30a.m.  Admission is $4 per day, or $5 for all sessions.  Coquina Lanes is located at 11 Old Kings Road, or about two miles east of exit 289 on Interstate 95.