No Gutter Balls For Amateur Bowling
Bowling continues to be a very popular activity for sanctioned tournament play and for pure recreation in the U.S. According to figures from industry market research by Experian Simmons, 69 million people bowl in the U.S. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC), the Arlington, Texas-based national governing body for bowling, serves two million members.
The sport also seems to be remaining on a steady roll, judging by the bowling activity tracked by USBC’s Youth Development Team. Those figures indicate that 48 states have high school bowling and more than 56,000 high school athletes bowled in 2016. Twenty-eight states feature club competition and 21 have varsity programs.
USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy noted the sport’s broad participation profile as one reason for its popularity.
“Bowling continues to be a sport that is open to everyone with opportunities at all age levels for participation,” Murphy said. “This is a big reason for the appeal.” USBC’s organization encompasses everything from from youth, high school, collegiate, coaching and elite bowling in the United States.
Murphy points to International Bowling Campus (IBC) Youth Development, a joint effort of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America and USBC, as an important element that energizes bowling participation. The effort has many programs designed to bring youth bowlers into the sport and to support them along the way.
“IBC Youth provides the Bowler’s Ed program, which supplies bowling kits to schools and organizations to teach kids about the sport, and last year we awarded 69 kits that reached more than 175,000 children,” said Murphy. “Youth membership costs just four dollars, which makes it much easier for local associations to customize their leagues and products to fit their community.
“The USA Bowling program is a mainstream youth program designed as a team-based structure, much like youth baseball and soccer, for example, and features a coaching component so we can teach volunteers how to coach our sport. We had 60 seminars throughout the country last year and more than 1,000 participants took part. Our national youth events had a record-number of participants and the collegiate program gets bigger each year. These are great marketing events as well.”
USBC also promotes the sport and assists bowlers through its Scholarship Management and Accounting Reports for Tenpins (SMART) program, designed to help organizations set up, manage and disburse youth bowling scholarships, as well as assist bowlers in securing educational scholarships.
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