I was reading a story culled from USA Today about possibly making bowling an Olympic sport. Hey, cool, I thought, until I read the entire story. Seems some committee wants to change bowling to make it more viewer friendly and, subsequently, easier for viewers to understand.
Before you read the clip I’m about to cut-and-paste, let me make a comment. Bowling has NEVER been that popular with television audiences; if it was, we might be seeing more PBA events on the tube on Saturdays or Sundays instead of things like baseball, college and/or pro football, hockey, tennis, whatever. As far as the popularity of bowling, however, call any bowling place on a weeknight during “bowling season” and try to get a lane or lanes before 10 p.m. Not gonna happen, folks.
OK, so here’s what the International Olympic Committee is proposing. To avoid any suggestion of plagiarism, I repeat, this has been cut-and-pasted from USA Today via Facebook:
In a move that is ultimately aimed at grabbing the attention of the International Olympic Committee, a new scoring system is being tested at this weekend’s World Bowling Tour finals. If it sticks, it could change the face of the game.
“We have had an image problem,” said Kevin Dornberger, president of World Bowling, the sport’s international governing body. “Not enough people understand the way the game is scored and that can make it boring for them to watch.”
So, for (the first weekend of November) at least, it is out with the old formula of 10 frames and an accumulated score up to a maximum of 300, and in with a new set of rules that borrows heavily from the kind of golf scoring used in events such as the Ryder Cup.
In the Tour finals, held at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas on Sunday, matches will effectively become a frame-by-frame showdown, with each bowler initially rolling a single ball per frame.
If a player outscores their opponent, they win the frame and go “one-up”, like in match-play golf. If both hit a strike, each gets a half. If both hit, for example, an eight, each competitor would attempt to complete their spare, with the higher scorer taking the frame. Matches tied after 12 frames continue until there is a winner.
The format is designed to increase suspense, speed up the game and offer greater broadcast appeal, all factors seen as vital to have a shot at Olympic inclusion.
Match Play bowling, eh? Sounds intriguing, but if some of the comments posted along with the article are indicative of the feelings of bowlers, Olympic Bowling is going to get some horrible ratings. But then, people might watch just to see how it works.
My take on it: Keep politics out of sports. (Yeah, right.) What I see here is an attempt to turn a popular sport into a sort of Electoral College. It’s easy to see in golf where a guy could, in Match Play, win a round, but have a higher score than his or her opponent, if, of course, the actual score is kept. The only trouble is, if one guy gets a birdie and the other guy is still in the bunker, he just picks up instead of taking a bogey, double bogey or worse.
The same thing is going to happen in bowling. Bowler No. 1 gets a “Big Four” split and bowler No. 2 gets a strike: Frame over. Strike guy gets 1 point, Split guy doesn’t. But down the line, Split Guy might get a consistent run going while Strike guy goes up and down and they “halve” most of the frames.
It’s kind of like government voting where a guy could win the Electoral College vote with voters in the bigger states, but lose the popular vote.
For me, bowling ain’t broke, so why are they trying to “fix” it?