Sunday, March 23, 2014

Women's Bowling Tournaments (or lack thereof)

An early league trophy
Today I was scheduled to bowl in the 8th Annual San Francisco USBC Women's Tournament at Classic Bowl in Daly City. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am. I would have been there anyway for practice with friends from Wednesday league.

Found out yesterday I wouldn't bowl the tournament. It ended up being another practice session. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Due to the low turnout (8 teams  = 32 women), we cancelled. It would not have been worth our strongest bowler's time and money to drive 50+ miles from her house to battle for payouts less than our $80 entry fee (doubles, singles and 4-person team).

I bowl 3 to 7 tournaments a year. All but 1 or 2 of them are outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Of all the tournaments I have bowled in the past 6 years since I began league, only 2 have been women's - Sea Bowl in Pacifica and a state tournament in Fresno.

What frustrates me is that once the tournament started, there were at least 7 other female leaguers (including me) on other lanes not bowling in it. Four of us have 150+ averages. The remaining 3, 175 and higher. Krystal didn't know until I told her. It's my guess at least one of the women practicing didn't know either.

In my humble opinion, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that might generate a better turnout:

  1. Early notice - Put out the word, especially via email and on social media (Facebook, Twitter) 3 months BEFORE the tournament date. This gives women with families and many other commitments to clear calendars and organize teams. I didn't know about the tournament until late February. By word of mouth.
  2. Friendly reminders - Get people to pass out flyers to women on their league night.
  3. Recruit women without teams - as I did with both leagues I'm currently in, I didn't know anyone. I just signed up and got placed. I bet there'd be enough interested women not on a team would sign up and form their own teams. These are women you would not get otherwise.
  4. Open the invitation to other Bay Area USBC leagues. I know several women league bowlers not in SFUSBC that would have participated but could not. The Asian American Bowling Association's tournaments permit any USBC sanctioned league bowler to participate as long as 50% of the team is of Chinese or Japanese ancestry, or bowl in a Chinese or Japanese league.
I don't claim to know all the answers. What I do know is that there are a lot of recreational/sporting functions out there league bowling has to compete against. Don't make it more difficult for women who want to bowl other than weekly leagues and can't.

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