Bowling became an MHSAA tournament program in 2003-04, and we are now host to the nation’s third largest high school bowling program, behind more highly populated New York and Ohio.

I became a fan when one of our bowlers rolled a perfect 300 in his first game of the first day of the first year of our Finals, and an even greater fan when I watched bowling stop at one end of the bowling center for people to watch and root for a bowler at the other end who was closing in on a perfect game.  We all have enjoyed watching the MHSAA serve a new group of students and their families, and I was especially thrilled to watch a tall skinny kid duel a short squat opponent for the championships at our first Finals.  This was a dream-come-true for many bowling advocates, including our own staff that has poured its heart and soul into the MHSAA’s bowling program.

In the early years we engaged the support of the bowling community throughout Michigan, and also from leaders at bowling’s national level who often pointed to Michigan as they were promoting high school bowling in other states.  Some of those who were engaged at the beginning are involved no longer as bowling’s national organizations have worked through internal issues; and we lost some support in administering bowling within the traditional policies and procedures of educational athletics.

Bowling has always had to overcome concerns that the competition venue not only is outside school control but sometimes provides an atmosphere that is more like a cocktail lounge than a classroom.  In addition, apparent violations of out-of-season coaching and limited team membership rules, while not unique to bowling, occur with greater frequency in bowling than many other sports.

The additional and potentially back-breaking issue unique to bowling is an awards program that tends to cause students to violate the amateur and awards rules of MHSAA member schools.  Its so-called “scholarship” program is simply the delayed award of prize money won by students in bowling competitions.   Our view and that of bowling’s current national leadership have been further apart on this issue than a 7-10 split.  As a result, the MHSAA Representative Council will be deciding what future bowling can have within MHSAA programming. 

The recent glimmer of hope has been that the leadership of Michigan’s two largest bowling proprietors groups and other state leaders are now developing a bona fide scholarship program that does not launder prize winnings but is based on factors such as need, academics, sportsmanship, citizenship and participation.  They realize we need more than promises of progress; we must have change in the prize money culture of youth bowling.  It works in golf, tennis and other school sports; it can happen in bowling if there is adequate commitment to make the change. 

It must be fundamental change; and it must come fast.  Very recent developments give us hope that it will.

Posted in: Bowling


# Anonymous
Monday, January 23, 2012 3:34 PM

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.

From the Director

From the Director is the official MHSAA Blog which will touch on pertinent school sports topics periodically throughout the school year from various MHSAA Staff.