I get a kick out bowlers who pay their entry fees way late and then complain about their squad times at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked how I get the “good times” at the Open Championships. The answer is simple: as soon as it’s possible, I pay the entire entry fees for our two teams and request squad times.
I wrote about doing that online for the first time earlier this year when I paid our fees in the first hour the new USBC system was live, snagging 7 p.m. for team and 11 a.m. for minors on Friday-Saturday May 17-18.
Making it “first paid, first served” is the fairest method USBC could use, and it’s also obviously good business for USBC.
The online system has enabled captains to arrange their doubles pairings for a while now, leaving only one outstanding issue: how the lane assignments for minors will be made in 2013. I did our doubles pairing Friday quickly and easily — USBC has definitely done its online system right.
The main issue is that a 2-team group will have five doubles duos and each pair of lanes for minors will feature three doubles duos. That means every 2-team group will have 3 doubles duos that can bowl together and 2 “extra” doubles duos.
It would not be equitable to go 3 and 2 across the National Bowling Stadium because the lane pattern transition is very different with six on a pair and four on a pair. Plus, going 3 and 2 wouldn’t accommodate all the bowlers that will be bowling minors on a full day of the tournament.
So the main question USBC needed to answer was how they arrange the pairings to make it 3 doubles duos across the house.
I’d asked USBC about the topic a while ago and eventually we scheduled an interview Thursday with USBC managing director-tournaments Brian Lewis and John Crawford of the tournament office.
That was the same day this email went out to team captains:
Dear 2013 Open Championships Team Captain,
It's the time of year when final payments need to be submitted and rosters need to be completed. Entry forms normally are mailed around this time requesting bowler information and final payment, but these forms will not be issued on paper, since everything can be entered online. The deadline for final payments is Oct. 1.
Your log-in for the online program:
Log-in - your email address
Password - created by captain upon registration (if you don't know your password try - bowl)
By accessing the online program, you will have the ability to make payments, edit rosters, set D/S pairings and much more. If you have any questions about how to navigate the online program, please visit the help page within the program.
Access the online program
Enter the rosters for your team(s)
Add D/S for all teams or change doubles pairings (if not previously done) Make payment for all added events
Important Note: The program does not ask for any average information or for a social security number. This information will be collected at a later date, and you will be notified of the process.
Once again, we thank you for your continued support of the USBC Open Championships and look forward to seeing you in Reno.
Predictably and correctly in my view, USBC is going with the first paid, first served method.
Captains of 2-team groups who pay first will be able to schedule three doubles duos on one pair and two on an adjacent pair, while those who pay later will see their extra two duos split up so there are three per pair across the Stadium. USBC does all the lane scheduling randomly. The third doubles set to complete the second pair of the early-paying captain will be assigned randomly from a later-paying team.
I’ve long been a proponent of fresh oil for all squads at the tournament to eliminate the unfortunate randomness that has long corrupted the results in minor events at the Open Championships.
Unless you bowled on fresh oil at 7 a.m., your chances in minors were dependent on who bowled in front of you. Some years we got a huge advantage out of the cross in front of us and other years it has crushed us. That's something every top level team can say.
Having three doubles duos from a team on one pair with fresh oil for minors eliminates that randomness, which is a huge step forward in equity for the Open Championships.
The extra four guys in a 2-team group will have the randomness of the third doubles duo USBC puts on their pair, but there isn’t anything USBC can do about that — short of putting all 10 guys on one pair for minors.
I’m a big believer in not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that definitely applies to fresh oil for minors at the Open Championships.
Open Championships competition starting in 2013 will be about as fair as is humanly possible, and that’s all USBC can do.
The organization deserves great credit for what it’s done with fresh oil.
Another issue raised by fresh oil is time, which Open Championships tournament manager Duane Hagen touched on in an interview with Kent Lowe of The Advocate in Baton Rouge.
“The No. 1 challenge is time,” Hagen told Lowe. “We cannot afford to not be on time. I have to figure out a way of educating bowlers that we did this (fresh oil) for you. You have some responsibility to make sure it works right. If not, there may be some penalties, and that’s what we are discussing now. ... We have to be on time.”
In a follow-up email, Lewis said this in expanding on Hagen's statement:
"The 'penalties' for [repeat] slow bowling offenders would include scheduling their D/S at the last shift of the day. More drastic measures could ultimately be taken with slow bowlers by scheduling ‘slow bowling squads’ on specific dates of the tournament [likely mid-week in March]. We are hopeful, with continuing education and consistent reminders, our slower bowlers will adjust and be on-time."
I’m a fast bowler and I like bowling with just 1-lane courtesy, but lots of top level bowlers aren’t like that. That includes some of my teammates, and while we are quicker than many top level teams we definitely could be quicker.
I’ll be re-emphasizing pace of play with our group before we bowl in Reno next year.