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ABC Leaders Got It Right, But Did Delegates? Writers Get the Right Words

Mar 21, 2003 - KNOXVILLE, Tenn

Sitting in the giant Knoxville Convention City in downtown Knoxville, I was trying to figure out why the American Bowling Congress got shot down in its three-year Single Membership campaign.  There does not appear to be one solid reason why the 1,279 delegates did not support the Single Membership proposal with a two-third majority vote.  The 630-628 vote against approval was a disgrace in my opinion.

The ABC leadership pulled out all the plugs in order to answer all of the delegates' questions and even to calm their fears.  They did a yeoman job when explaining facts, but there was no way they could resolve the emotional issues of ABC delegates who did not want to see their beloved organization, established in 1895, become a lost part of the proposed United States Bowling Congress.  Also, there was no question that many delegates were more eager to protect their own turf, or should we say serfdom, than trying to save league bowling.

Only one delegate among those who got to speak against Single Membership really had anything valid to say in my opinion.  His argument was why should the delegates think the ABC and WIBC  leadership was on the right track with Single Membership after they had failed so miserably with the original Strike Ten Entertainment idea and the Tiered Membership adventure.  Both Strike Ten and Tiered Membership looked like solid concepts on paper, but unfortunately for one reason or another they both failed in reality. And both cost the ABC and WIBC a lot of time and money.  That delegate's question could come back to haunt the WIBC leaders when they try to pass the Single Membership proposal in Reno April 30.

   Bowling Writers Association convention

But enough of the Single Membership fiasco for now, let's turn to the convention of the Bowling Writers Association of America.  Most of the writers were there to renew old friendships and to learn new interesting facts about the overall bowling industry.

From those two standpoints, it was a solid BWAA Convention. Here are a few of the high points from my standpoint:

     Bob Reid from Ebonite presented an interesting talk that emphasized what this progressive company is working at educating junior, high school, collegiate and potential pro bowlers.

    Bea Goodwin talked about the Ebonite supported Celebration of Diversity Mixed Doubles Tournament that will be held for the second year at Texas Station July 18-20. She also revealed that Texas Station was bucking the current new trend by switching its business from open to league bowling in order to make it easier on bowling equipment and employees.

    Tom Lehmnkuhl of Brunswick came up with an interesting explanation about topography of bowling lanes. If I got it all right, he pointed out that oil on a "dished" condition was like a smiley face while a "crowned' condition was similar to a grumpy face. And he added that dressing lanes under so many natural variables was more an art than a science.

    Michael Anderson of AMF announced that AMF would hold its yearly AMF Bowling World Cup in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Sept. 27-Oct. 4. Dick Weber, an ambassador for bowling and AMF for some four-plus decades, then how great it was to bowl with four family members in the 100th ABC National Championship Tournament.

    Barbara Chrisman of Storm loosened up the writers by poking fun at a second sad-excuse for a breakfast (the caterer this year was bad for three days) and then Bill Supper got up and reported that Storm enjoyed a 21 percent jump in business last year. Storm, formed in 1991, is a remarkable "Mom & Pop" success story.

    John Jowdy and Roger Vessell took the writers on a train ride along the Tennessee River and later got up and presented the Columbia 300 Remo Picchietti Humanitarian Award to this old writer. Not sure I belong in the same company with some previous winners like Elaine Hagin, Steve James, Mike Hennessy, Pearl Keller, Frank Baker and Sam Weinstein when it comes to deserving a "humanitarian" award.

    Steve Miller of the new PBA got up and painted a colorful picture about the future of the men's pro tour. Without doubt, Miller knows how to work an audience and is the most dynamic speaker in the old's or new's PBA history.

    John Falzone of the Professional Women's Bowling Association scored a lot of points when he introduced three of the tour's top stars, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Kim Adler and Leanne Barrette, and they came up with interesting remarks.

    Falzone also revealed that the PWBA was going to open up the dress code during the 12-tour stop 2003 season...something that is long overdue. He also said that veterans Anne Marie Duggan and Virginia Norton had been elected to the PWBA Hall of Fame. Both deserve the recognition.

    The late Lowell Jackson, who excelled as a tournament bowler despite being virtually blind, and Nick Mormando, a giant in the industry, were inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame. Jackson's son made a touching speech about the man who sold his idea for markers on bowling lanes to Brunswick for $1 in 1936. Mormando's crowning moments may have been his volunteer work with the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

    On a personal note, I have to congratulate John Falzone for being elected incoming president of the BWAA, Steve James for being elected executive director of the BWAA, Lyle Zikes for running an informative convention under difficult circumstances, Glenn Allison for being awarded the Rip Van Winkle award, Jim Wyckoff for finally winning the Mort Luby award,  and to Bill Vint for being elected third vice-president.

    Except for the disappointing catering service, this was a very interesting BWAA Convention.  And I can't wait for the BPAA's Bowl-Expo in Las Vegas this June, it also should be overflowing with information.