Herald, based in Florida, submitted an open letter to the sports editor of the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune in which he asked a dozen or so questions.
Herald basically wanted to know why the Herald-Tribune has decimated its bowling coverage while at the same time maintaining its extensive coverage of minor sports such as golf and tennis.
I’d like to address that issue with some of my thoughts, which might be surprising.
I do want to disclose that unlike Herald, who wrote a bowling column for the Herald-Tribune for more than 30 years, I have written bowling stories for only two years. But I have some perspective from working as a copy editor and news editor for three newspapers for 35 years. And those newspapers have been big (Los Angeles Times), medium (Los Angeles Daily News) and small (Pekin Daily Times in Illinois).
Living on the other coast from Herald can provide for a different perspective.
And though Herald seemed to fault the Herald-Tribune for substantially (or completely) dropping its bowling coverage, it’s apparent to me that bowling bigwigs share the blame for the sport’s drooping profile.
And by bigwigs, I mean some of the top pro bowlers and some of the top bowling promoters and some of the owners of the fledgling Professional Bowlers Assn. League.
These bowling personalities just aren’t doing enough to put their sport on the map.
They should be expending more energy traveling around the country as goodwill ambassadors of the sport. And the bigwigs should be creative enough to come up with some bowling events that would generate interest even from non-bowling fans.
It shouldn’t be that difficult.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some personalities who are passionate about spreading the word about bowling’s appeal.
Chicago’s Diandra Asbaty is a one-woman publicity machine who has done more for bowling than any dozen male professionals put together.
Last year Asbaty earned $20,000 for winning the United States Bowling Congress Queens tournament, one of only two majors for women.
The attractive Asbaty followed up that championship by appearing on “Good Morning America” and appearing as an honoree at a Chicago Bulls basketball game and a Chicago White Sox baseball game – all in an effort to put the spotlight on the sport she loves.
She works hard in the fund-raising arena for bowling and literally travels the world to promote the sport. It was truly sad when Asbaty told me last year that “I’ll go to Malaysia and I’m more well-known there than here because we won the world championships there.”
Asbaty also writes a bowling blog and speaks candidly and forcefully about the sport.
We need more Diandra Asbatys.
Bowling is the No. 1 participatory sport in the country so there’s a ready supply of supporters. Last year more than 70 million Americans bowled.
But at the local level, L.A. is struggling to get recognition as a bowling mecca, which it isn’t.
Still, we have some unbelievably talented amateur bowlers over here who are willing to climb the highest mountain to proclaim that bowling is exciting, fun and worth watching.
Those are people like former major leaguer Rick Auerbach, who can talk the whole night about all aspects of bowling and who has established himself as one of the premier players in the area.
The fact that an L.A.-area newspaper hasn’t seen fit to recognize how Auerbach has become a two-sport sensation – more than 30 years apart – pretty much underlines Herald’s point.
Newspapers have dropped the ball with their bowling coverage.
But it’s not all their fault. Bowling leaders have to lead – and not just complain.
They have to find ways to give bowling a shot in the arm before it continues to lose its appeal and charm.