Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s professional bowling was a mainstream sport, led by its top-rated, weekly, Saturday afternoon TV show.
Over the past 25 years, the PBA has seen a decline in terms of attendance, sponsorship and prize money, despite that fact that records indicate almost 100 million people all over the world bowl during the course of the year.
Tom Clark, VP and COO of the PBA, has been on a crusade to turn things around, and it seems as though he is making great strides towards making that happen.
There are a lot of new, exciting, “must-see” things going on with the PBA tour this year.
Here are just a few that will certainly attract attention.
Over the past few years an influx of incredible talent has completely changed the player landscape of the PBA.
There has been an invasion of young talent, led by PBA Player of the Year, Sean Rash Jason Belmonte. Mike Fagan, Osku Palarmaa and Josh Blanchard are among other up-and-coming stars.
The PBA has also become an international affair attracting gifted bowlers from all over the world: Australia, Finland, Canada, Korea, England, Bahrain, Denmark, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Venezuela, Columbia and many other nations are represented.
And of course there is the “old guard” of the PBA. Veterans like Walter Ray Williams III, Pete Weber, Norm Duke, Parker Bohn III, Chris Barnes and Tommy Jones are all still going strong, still winning.
The competition could be the greatest in history.
The stunning Kimberly Pressler, Miss USA 1999, is returning to her lane-side reporter role (she held this position during the 2010-2011 season) for the Sunday afternoon ESPN shows.
Besides bringing grace and beauty to the show, Kim is a seasoned interviewer who is very familiar with the game and the bowlers. She gives viewers another reason to watch.
The PBA has also added the beautiful and talented Ashly Galante to the online Xtra Frame broadcast team.
Ashly’s bowling resume speaks for itself: former Team USA member, college bowling champion, 2007 USBC Teen Masters winner, seventh place finish in the 2009 USBC Queens.
Her knowledge of the game, familiarity with the players and infectious personality will give viewers another reason to lend an eye.
Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of team bowling leagues, PBA CEO Geoff Reiss and Executive VP Tom Clark created the team format for the 2013 PBA season.
This new format will feature eight teams. The eight captains (the top eight ranked bowlers form last season) chose their teams in a draft, held during the World Series of Bowling in November.
For complete team rosters, team owners and information as to how this whole competition will work, visit www.pba.com
Teams will begin competition during the PBA Winter Swing, Jan. 19-27, to be held in Allen Park, MI.
Although this is not considered brand new, it is still the rave of the bowling world.
Over the past few years, Australia’s Jason Belmonte has single-handedly revolutionized and revitalized the sport of bowling with is unique two-handed style.
His success has been astounding. With five PBA titles in three years (including runner up to Sean Rash in the Player of the Year Honors last season) he has firmly established himself as one of the best bowlers on the planet.
Adding credence to the two-handed style is Finland’s Osku Palarmaa, who finished in the top eight on last season’s tour and won his second title.
Not only are bowlers migrating to this style, but it has inspired people to take up and watch bowling for the first time.
The 2012-2013 season will be an extended 14-month schedule to help transition to a calendar year format beginning in 2014.
The schedule started with the World Series of Bowling, held in Las Vegas during the month of November, and featuring six tournaments.
Earlier this month the tour jumped to Japan for the Japan Cup.
The rest of the season includes: The Winger Swing, USBC Masters, Tournament of Champions, Summer Swing, U.S. Open, WSOB V, Japan Cup.
The “swings” will include multiple tournaments similar to the World Series of Bowling.
For details visit: http://www.pba.com/Tournaments/PBATour/
Formerly known as the PBA Senior Tour, the newly named PBA50 Tour accurately reflects the stream of PBA superstars who have and will reach the age of 50.
Already on the tour are such greats as Walter Ray Williams, Amleto Monacelli, Johnny Petraglia and Hugh Miller.
This year Pete Weber, Parker Bohn II, Randy Pedersen and the popular Jack Jurek will be all be competing on this tour.
For those younger pros where were ready to breathe a sigh of relief with these guys heading on the Sr. circuit, not so fast! Most of these guys will be pulling double duty.
Weber, who won his fifth U.S. Open last year at the age of 49, will tell you, “Who do you think you are? I am!”
The tour begins in April and ends in November with the televised finals.
All ESPN shows are on Sunday afternoons.
Currently 15 PBA shows are on tap, running from December through the end of March 2013, with more to come due to the Summer Swing.
Lon McEachern, PBA Hall of Famer Randy Pedersen and Kimberly Pressler make up the full broadcast team.
For more details and updates go to: http://www.pba.com/Television/
The PBA provides extensive qualifying and match play coverage on their online XtraFrame.TV show.
The XtraFrame team of Mike Jakubowski, Mike Flanagan and Ashly Galante return to the internet airwaves on Saturday Jan. 19 for coverage of the Winter Swing.
For the complete XtraFrame schedule to go: http://www.pba.com/Live/
Visit XtraFrame at www.xtraframe.tv/pba/