From left, Josh Swiecicki, Anita Sharpe and Kevin Jorrey of Bowling Green High enjoy a recent practice at Al-Mar Lanes.
lisa dutton / toledo blade Enlarge
There has been some surprising gnashing of the teeth in the bowling community about the impending move to make high school bowling an officially recognized sport by the Ohio High School Athletic Association in the 2006-07 school year.
Since bowling is the "Rodney Dangerfield of the sports world," one would think bowlers would embrace this positive step toward respectability.
Yet the reaction to bowling becoming officially sanctioned has been mixed at best in this area.
While male and female bowlers will finally get the opportunity to represent their schools and compete for state titles, they will be prohibited from competing in travel leagues, junior leagues and scholarship tournaments during the high school season.
"A lot of kids don't like it," said Cliff McBride, who is the director of the largest prep league in the area. "Most kids around here say if they can't bowl in travel leagues, then they are not interested in bowling for their schools."
Greg Coulles, who is the commissioner of Ohio High School Bowling, has spearheaded the effort to get bowling sanctioned.
"It's not a hot topic anywhere else in the state," Coulles said. "This is a hard thing [for Toledo bowlers] to deal with because it is out of the ordinary. But other communities recognize the overall benefit of having high school bowling sanctioned by the OHSAA."
Coulles believes it would not be too difficult to work around the prep season.
"They're already doing it in Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton and Youngstown," he said. "In Cincinnati, 60 schools have adjusted."
But McBride said the league coaches held a meeting a few years ago about the sport becoming sanctioned and "it did not ignite any of us."
"A lot of kids, coaches and parents are worried because scholarships could be lost," said Clay coach Ron Koles. "If it comes to a choice, I would hope most would want to represent their schools."
"People at my school don't even know we have a bowling team," said BG senior Anita Sharpe. "Getting that recognition is awesome."
Bowling Green freshman Shaun Crusa said it's cool because now the bowlers get a chance to compete for a state title like athletes in other school-sanctioned sports.
"I think the travel league is good experience and you get opportunities to earn scholarships," said Chad Koles, a Clay junior. "I'd hate to miss out on those experiences."
Sue Pinski, co-owner of Interstate Lanes in Rossford, said her center puts on scholarship tournaments once per month from September through April.
"For our area it won't do us any good," Pinski said. "We would be giving up revenue."
Yet Pinski is in favor of the change and said she would be willing to adjust her schedule that includes Young American Bowling Alliance events.
"It could be done," she said. "We just need to change the way we do things. We'd be giving them so much more."
OHSAA assistant commissioner Hank Zaborniak said he has spoken with about 100 prep bowlers and most said they would be willing to abide by the rules.
Zaborniak said there was similar resistance among the soccer community about 30 years ago when that sport was going through the process of becoming sanctioned.
"They won't be able to bowl independently," Zaborniak said. "I think most will still want to participate."
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