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We Can All Agree - Bowling Needs TV

Author: Chuck Pezzano

It’s a rare day in June or July or in forever past when all in bowling agree on any one thing.

Membership organizations and bowling proprietor groups have long been at odds on how to accomplish what is best for both sides. There was talk and back talk about an ABC and WIBC merger since there was an ABC and WIBC. Every junior bowling organization has taken its criticism. The pros have never fully agreed with amateur groups and rules, pros battle pros, and amateur groups don’t know how to perfectly define what’s an amateur and what’s a pro.

Minds seldom meet when it comes to discussions of lane conditions, bowling balls, and other equipment. If you want to have a torrid hot stove discussion, bring up the righty-lefty controversies, who rolled the most powerful ball, who have been the best clutch bowlers, and simply, who were the best bowlers of all-time. In only one area have I found universal agreement, and that is the premise that bowling should be on national TV every week.

From the time of the first bowling TV show, a local New York City effort beamed back in 1947, the TV exposure has been one of the brightest lights in bowling.

Bowling and TV have a natural togetherness. The playing field is small, and can be covered fully. Up until recently, with the advent of some outdoor shows, there was no fear of being rained out. The bowling audience is huge and loyal because many of them can relate, all can understand, and thus ratings have already been good, even with the proliferation of channels.  

Bowlers, membership organizations, manufacturers, proprietors, pro groups, amateur groups, tournament promoters and those even remotely involved with the sport admit that TV has boosted bowling. At one time there were more than 30 local TV bowling shows, and bowling on the national networks has been around more than 50 years. For decades, every one of the PBA’s championship matches was on network TV.

And yet, though there is almost 100 percent agreement that TV is vital to the sport and the future of the sport, and to the various groups in bowling, profit and nonprofit, bowling has never been able to sustain a weekly telecast. The late Darold Dobs, visionary executive director of the ABC, helped put a magazine type show on the air and one of his goals until the time he died was to have a permanent show. He never got the support he needed. In being involved with more than 1,000 network bowling shows in various capacities over the years, I never met a producer, director, announcer or TV executive who didn’t feel that TV bowling had a great potential, and that once started, could become a staple and more than pay its own way.

A general bowling show could and should have a wide range of content. It could feature pro competition, amateur contests, juniors, seniors, collegiate, men, women, mixed and whatever might be in the spotlight that week. Add to that the countless feature stories in the game, the competitive stars, the movers and shakers, the rule makers and rule breakers, the celebrities, and you have enough material for not just 1,000 shows, but maybe 1,000 years. There are a number of talented people who could head up a bowling TV office and set up a network show the same time each week every week. Bowling, in many ways for many years has blown away more money than needed for such a show to get started. No time is better than now to make network TV a fact of bowling life. 

Posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.


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