So will the new pro bowling league thrive?
The Professional Bowlers Assn. League will make its live debut on ESPN from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday at Thunderbowl Lanes in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park, Mich.
There will be additional PBA league action that will be telecast Feb. 10, Feb. 17, March 3 and March 24 and culminating with the PBA League Elias Cup finals April 7.
The big question is will viewers be excited about watching the competition involving the league’s eight teams, two of which are located in Los Angeles: the Los Angeles X and the Silver Lake Atom Splitters.
A good sign for the league is that each team is owned by a celebrity and those eight personalities seem committed to promoting the sport. Billie Jean King is perhaps the biggest name. She is the owner of the New York City WTT KingPins, and the lone female owner in the league.
King, the World TeamTennis co-founder, has put together a powerful team led by PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, 13-time tour winner Tommy Jones and Costa Mesa’s Scott Norton, who recently won the PBA Chameleon Championship in Las Vegas.
Earlier this month, Jesse Williams was named the final owner in the league, taking over the BROOKLYN STyLES. Williams is known as Dr. Jackson Avery on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Other owners include Los Angeles Clippers star guard Chris Paul, former Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Jerome Bettis, former NFL all-pro receiver Terrell Owens, actor-comedian Kevin Hart, comedian and Internet innovator Chris Hardwick and Steelers all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
Another key to the league will be if the media outlets get behind it.
An early indication will come Sunday – will the Los Angeles Times consider the league’s coming-out party in Michigan worthy of being placed among its Page 2 television listings?
As a former Times staff member, I know that the Times sports section can be late to the party but it isn’t wrong for long. If The Times recognizes bowling as the sport that it is, that could provide a huge boost.