A New Normal for Bowling?

By Jack Hammill

While some hearty souls returned to the lanes when bowling reopened it is safe to say for many of us that March and the normal bowling season seems so long ago.

A great deal of what we know of bowling in our area changed in March when the COVID hit our area. We are now entering the new normal of bowling.

Recently I had the privilege of sitting in for Jim Riepenhoff and spending time with many of the proprietors in our area as Jennifer Clark of the Bowling Centers Association of Ohio discussed COVID standards and expectations to offer the greatest assurance that the lanes can continue to remain open. Clark and the BCAO were largely responsible in the negotiations with the governor that the reopening occurred. Currently there are still six states that have not been given such approval.

Quite simply it is advised that the centers follow what was discussed and you as bowlers follow the requests of the centers. Thankfully bowling has been classified as a non-contact support. Masks for instance will be required to enter and exit the building but not during the competition.

As noteworthy as that meeting was and the impact it will have on many – history will show that it was not the most noteworthy moment of this off season.

The Lima Bowling Association membership was cut by at least 40% as Southgate Lanes of Bluffton and Norada Lanes of Ada are now members of Putnam County Bowling Association.

Derek Dukes, Brandon Falk and John Daily have been open to this change that for now I will reference as “creative differences” and the need for greater transparency within the operations of the LBA. There were clearly issues that we will discuss at a later time that led to this change,

It is important to note that in my different conversations with Dukes since he and Falk took over a majority of the managerial responsibilities at Southgate that he has also discussed different business models. One of the primary models of note back then was what would happen if all the centers of the association were essentially the same size with essentially the same management concerns. They will now have the opportunity to explore that notion.

It would appear that the LBA is now the battle ground of 20th Century and Westgate but then again perhaps it is time for the management of the LBA to “go and visit an old friend!” The old friend at this time is of course Lyn Lee Lanes in Spencerville. It would be interesting to see what could come of that visit. I can hear the recoil now but it really may be time for that trip.

The question might be what board member would make that trip as one of the other major changes in the area has been the shake up in the make up of the LBA board. I have heard that Tom Sifrit and Jerry Johnson have returned to the board and that is a very good thing as their experience and love for the sport will be a benefit. At the same time at least fiver board members have departed and they will be very difficult to replace. Again we will have more on this later.

There will also be a change in this column.

We will be brought to you every other week on Monday for now but you can always find me around the lanes. For that matter come see me at 20th where you can see yet another change – The Walker-Flex Lane machine that even I can program …. Ahhh I love change

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