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Will the PBA League think twice about its draft plan?

Scott Norton, at left, with Craig Woodward
Scott Norton, at left, with Craig Woodward
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Kudos to Scott Norton for not backing down on his harsh criticism about the Professional Bowlers Assn. League’s plan to re-draft its league players for the 2015 season.

But don’t expect the PBA to change course.

Still, Norton, a two-year member of the WTT New York City Kingpins and a practicing attorney, was extremely brave to speak out against the league’s plan to draft new teams from scratch. And he vocalized his criticism not once – but twice, as detailed by 11th Frame columnist Jeff Richgels.

Here’s what Norton said on Facebook the first time he voiced his displeasure:

PBA League – New York City WTT Kingpins for life . . . If I’m not on the Kingpins next year, I’m not bowling the league. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

“We are doing this PBA League because they want to watch us come together as a team. Well, my teammates are Stuart Williams, John Szczerbinski, Jake Peters and Pete Weber.

“No offense to the rest of the field, but I will stand by those guys any day of the week. Team competition is fun for the camaraderie, for having people be able to get behind a group of guys and root them on. Very disappointed.”

After his comments made their way through the social media channels, Norton followed up with some more opinions the following day that were seemingly well-thought-out and heartfelt:

“I suppose I should apologize for my rant yesterday about the Kingpins and the PBA League. I’m not going to, however. I understand people will disagree with me about my stance, and that’s fine but please don't tell me ‘because I have other options, I should stop ruining it for other people.’ I have lived and breathed this sport since I was a baby, and no matter what took me away from it, I always came back.

“I may be opinionated and feisty, but please don't ever question my love for this sport or confuse my passion about a certain topic with bashing this sport. There are few, if any, who love this sport more than me, so much so that I got a JD [Juris Doctor professional graduate degree in law] that basically turned into a backup plan.

“It's cool to disagree and perhaps I was too fervent in my passion for what others considered to be ‘entertainment’ but that wasn’t how I saw it. I loved bowling with those men, and am going to be very sad if we get broken up as a result of this. And you know what, it’s OK to feel that way.”

This column came out days ago in opposition to the league’s new draft plan, citing the break in continuity by imposing brand-new rosters and the loss of identification of the city’s players by the fans.

But here are some key takeaways to all this controversy:

– Norton (shown in photo at left with Craig Woodward) took a stand that many of his colleagues are probably supporting in private. But none of them appear to have come forth to back him up.

And unless the PBA is being swallowed by a firestorm of continued criticism, it can easily weather one player’s opposition – as passionate as Norton is on the subject.

No doubt, the league’s players are content with the good pay that the league offers and they don’t want to rock the boat and possibly incur the PBA’s wrath.

– Furthermore, the PBA’s plan was determined a year ago, so the PBA can justifiably say no one should be surprised at the new format to shake up rosters. And with the ESPN being committed to telecast the league’s third season, the PBA appears to have money and power behind it.

But here’s the potential problem. It does not appear that the ratings for the two PBA League seasons (2013, 2014) were overwhelmingly high. Contacted several times, an ESPN representative did not answer the question of what the ratings were for ESPN’s first two seasons.

Should the ratings nose-dive in 2015, the PBA League might regret that it didn’t listen to Scott Norton.

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