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PBA Tour taking steps toward a traditional fall-to-spring schedule

By PHIL GULICK

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001


Major developments are coming soon for the Professional Bowlers Association and later for the American Bowling Congress, Women's International Bowling Congress and Young American Bowling Alliance.

The most startling news is the PBA is going to have one season. PBA chairman and co-owner Chris Peters said, "In the near future, September through March will be the PBA season. We are moving away from the 12-month calendar. When we end our tour in March, it will effectively end this year's season."

Does that mean a bunch of PBA players will have to find day jobs?

Peters reneged. "We may have a couple more tour stops after the season ends in March," he said. That announcement better come soon because the winter tour is slated to end Sunday with the top 32 pros in the Battle at Little Creek, Virginia. Ten-time winner Steve Hoskins of Tarpon Springs and Clermont's Jason Couch and Norm Duke are in the match-play field.

Peters' idea would align the tour with traditional fall-to-spring sports schedules and play out during the peak bowling season. He said isolated special events might be added in the summer. In the past, the tour encompassed fall, winter, spring and summer segments.

Peters and ex-Microsoft Corporation partners Rob Glaser and Mike Slade purchased the PBA in April, rescuing the 42-year-old organization from bankruptcy, or worse, extinction. Since then, news from the new PBA headquarters in Seattle has been scarce.

"We're doing a lot of foundation work," Peters said. "We're moving our accounting office from Akron (Ohio) to Seattle, writing a new rule book, developing a new practice program for our members with bowling centers across the country."

In November, Peters hired former Nike executives Ian Hamilton and Steve Miller as commissioner and president, respectively.

Since the trio took over, the TV shows have been anchored on ESPN on Sundays from 12:30 to 2 p.m., but that could change, too. "For the past few years, the PBA's television coverage has been fairly random," Peters said. "Our goal is to establish a television schedule people will know about two or three years in advance."

The PBA must work on its public image, too. Recently, Miller was quoted in Sports Illustrated: "We're only a couple of breaths from being a carcass . . . we're just above road kill."

The Single Membership Organization proposed by a task force from the ABC/WIBC/YABA is an idea whose time has yet to come.

One organization governing all U.S. amateur bowling has been bandied about for years, but the idea appears to be gaining momentum.

The task force agreed to present resolutions to the respective membership organizations at their annual delegates conventions this spring. The ABC Championships are under way and its convention is slated March 11-17. The WIBC convention is scheduled April 23-25 in Fort Lauderdale.

Under the proposal, the ABC, WIBC, YABA and USA Bowling would be dissolved and consolidated into a single-membership organization. Executive positions in those bodies would be replaced by one executive staff. Within four years, the national board would be elected by the membership, state and local associations would be restructured into zones and regions with paid staffs and a stronger effort will be made to include bowling as an Olympic sport.

This fall, the task force will review feedback from the conventions and consider further legislation for the 2002 conventions.

Don't look for this to happen within the next three years.

- Phil Gulick can be reached at xerxes6@aol.com or xerxes6@juno.com.

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