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A call for Showtime in PBA League

The "GIrls With Balls" brings a lot of enthusiasm to the sport.
The "GIrls With Balls" brings a lot of enthusiasm to the sport.
Fred Eisenhammer

This column originally ran Oct. 28, 2013. It is being updated with a postscript.


Does anyone remember that era in the 1980s when the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers displayed that exciting up-tempo style in the NBA?

Do any of the Professional Bowlers Assn. League owners remember that era?

Here’s why Showtime is being brought up: The PBA League is starting its second season Jan. 1 at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park. Mich. The league worked hard to make its inaugural season appealing and watchable as ESPN covered the action.

And it was fun with celebrity owners fawning over their talented bowlers such as Pete Weber and Jason Belmonte, who showed off their skills by bowling two frames in each game.

But there was one inherent problem: Bowling, especially on TV, can be dull. We’re talking about professional bowlers who are robot-like and precise and who typically drill their bowling shots right into the pocket.

Can we make pro bowling a bit more exciting? Is it too much to ask for a little Showtime in a sport that is not known for its pizzazz?

Here’s how:

Take a cue from a group of league bowlers named Laura Coury, Ann Egan, Jaye Rettedal and Stacey Tarantino. The four ladies annually field a summer-league team at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills, Calif. The team is called “Girls With Balls.”

Everything is exciting about their play. They cheer, they jeer, they stand up and hoot and they make noise – a lot of it. They’re exciting. They’re infectious.

That team captivates the area whenever it bowls and has attracted local media attention for its enthusiasm and head-to-head duels with a team made up of its spouses.

“Girls With Bowls” also wins – showing that chemistry trumps all because these ladies have widely different averages.

Why can’t the PBA League follow the example of “Girls With Balls?” Why can’t the PBA League put together one team that is exclusively women? You don’t think people would tune in to watch them? They would bring badly needed excitement to the sport.

Can you imagine? Showtime in bowling?

Is that too much to ask?

And who should be the owner of that all-women PBA League team?

Here’s one possibility: How about tennis icon Billie Jean King, the PBA League’s only woman owner? She is the owner of the New York City WTT KingPins, which won the league championship last year and was the only team sporting a woman on its roster with Kelly Kulick.

Kulick, the lone woman to win a PBA Tour title when she finished first in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas, would be a perfect captain for that all-women’s team. Add talented Diandra Asbaty and you have two-fifths of the team that would have beauty and skill.

Wonder how they would fare against the men? Don’t be surprised if the team wins – and wins a lot. The women’s team would give the PBA League another dimension and could put bowling on the map with its own brand of Showtime.

The women would be a charming group and wouldn’t be afraid to whoop it up and demonstrate in front of millions what chemistry is all about.

Perhaps it’s too late to field such a team for the coming season. But it’s worth some consideration for the league’s third season.

This team would be like the Lakers on the lanes.

They would be the professional “Girls With Balls.”

Postscript: The PBA League finished their second season this year without a woman member on any of its eight teams.

And don’t expect much of a change in 2015.

PBA writer Bill Vint reports that the only eligible woman for the PBA League’s Oct. 31 draft for the 2015 season is Colombia native Clara Guerrero, an Austin, Texas, resident who graduated from Wichita State University in Kansas in 2006.

Guerrero became the third woman to bowl in a nationally televised final when she qualified for the PBA Cheetah Championship stepladder in World Series of Bowling V, eventually finishing fourth.

Bottom line: It looks as if Showtime will have to wait before it reaches the PBA League, if it ever will.

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