The PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) and the WTBA (World Tenpin Bowling Association) recently unveiled a historic alliance that will result in the first true worldwide professional bowling tour. The move will allow international and domestic PBA members who compete in WBT (World Bowling Tour) events to earn PBA Tour titles in WBT events and to bowl in PBA events in the U.S.
The announcement fulfills a dream for many lifelong bowling fans, like myself, that want to see bowling's reach become more global. When the PBA World Series of Bowling was created in 2009, it allowed bowlers from around the globe the chance to compete in a more world-wide environment. The new agreement takes things to an even higher level.
The leaders of both organizations were elated by the move. PBA commissioner Tom Clark said, "Our goal was to take the next step in expanding competition around the world. To see it happen is the most significant step our sport has ever taken in creating world-wide awareness and recognition for bowling's best players, regardless of where they live."
Kevin Dornberger, WTBA president, also provided positive comments on the new agreement, saying, "We are greatly indebted to the international bowling federations and tournament hosts who have given us the opportunity to create the World Bowling Tour," said Dornberger. "We sincerely believe this alliance will lead to even bigger things."
The largest benefit of the deal should come in the form increased sponsorship and endorsements. The more money a sports league can generate translates into better competition, bigger venues, and a higher profile of the sport.
Corporate sponsors should undoubtedly be impressed by the global reach of the WBT. Aside from 3 events held in the U.S., the tour includes stops in Finland, Japan, France, Austria, Australia, Kuwait, South Korea, Thailand, and the Bahamas.
One has to wonder if the move could also help launch bowling into a competitive sport at either the Summer or Winter Olympics. A move like that would increase the sport's profile to stratospheric heights.
Strength through Unity
In my opinion, the most important piece of this alliance is the strength from the increased unity between the PBA and WTBA. Having multiple leagues and governing bodies have dogged sports like professional boxing and mixed martial arts for years. Being able to focus star power and corporate sponsorship will pay big dividends for growing the sport of bowling and professional bowling.
Alex Wibholm is a bowling fan and loves to keep up with the PBA Tour on Sunday afternoons; especially after the NFL Seasons wrap up.