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View Full Version : Professional pool and professional bowling - same predicament


bdorman
11-26-2012, 11:03 AM
I think pool and bowling are in the same predicament: they both have millions of casual-to-serious players....who have never watched a professional level game in their life. They play for fun and a little spirited competition among friends.

In the 1950-60s both had more successful professional leagues (bigger money, TV coverage, etc), but got left behind as the public's leisure options expanded.

I suspect that professional level bowlers (the PBA) have the same gripes about bowling as professional level pool players have about pool.

BTW, I estimate the number of bowlers to be many times the number of pool players. In my condo community we've got 15 people who use the pool table...and 110 in our bowling league.

JAM
11-26-2012, 11:05 AM
I think pool and bowling are in the same predicament: they both have millions of casual-to-serious players....who have never watched a professional level game in their life. They play for fun and a little spirited competition among friends.

In the 1950-60s both had more successful professional leagues (bigger money, TV coverage, etc), but got left behind as the public's leisure options expanded.

I suspect that professional level bowlers (the PBA) have the same gripes about bowling as professional level pool players have about pool.

Bowling has a tour; pool does not. :o

Read all about it ---> Could this happen to a pool player? (http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=168591) :wink:

jersey jer
11-26-2012, 11:23 AM
Bowler...............money Earned (USD) Events Titles
Mika Koivuniemi $333,040.....................12...........1
Chris Barnes $133,260.........................12...........1
Tom Smallwood $127,200.....................12...........0
Norm Duke $113,900..........................1........... 1
Bill O'Neill $ 97,290............................12...........1

just a quick google of 2010 - 2011 top money bowlers
quite a few under this in the 70 thousand range
I bet the top players wish this money was available in pool

Donny Lutz
11-26-2012, 11:34 AM
I think pool and bowling are in the same predicament: they both have millions of casual-to-serious players....who have never watched a professional level game in their life. They play for fun and a little spirited competition among friends.

In the 1950-60s both had more successful professional leagues I suspect that professional level bowlers (the PBA) have the same gripes about bowling as professional level pool players have about pool.(bigger money, TV coverage, etc), but got left behind as the public's leisure options expanded.

BTW, I estimate the number of bowlers to be many times the number of pool players. In my condo community we've got 15 people who use the pool table...and 110 in our bowling league.

I began playing pool in 1955. There was to the best of my knowledge, no national league system in the '50s. There were local leagues on the east and west coasts. The first attempt at a national league organization was, I believe, the National Pocket Billiard Association out of Milwaukee, which was fairly successful from 1959 into the '80s.

I believe there was one "national" pro bowling league, with teams mostly sponsored by breweries.
There were of course thousands of amateur bowling leagues throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s. Bowling was huge on tv in the 50s, and it was watched by thousands (millions?) of viewers. Pool has never experienced this, largely because tv was fairly new for all sports back then, so people were hungry for sports on the tube. Too bad pool didn't get in on that early tv craze.

You may be wrong on your estimate of the numbers. On another AZ thread, one authority estimates the number of people who play pool occasionally at 37,000,000 (world wide), and the number who play at least twice a week at around 8,000,000. If this is accurate, I doubt that bowling can come close to that, simply because bowling lanes require much more of an investment, and can't fit in the space that a few pool tables can.

I was a serious bowler from 1955 to 1973, and a serious pool player since around 1965. I organized tournaments and leagues in both, so I'm speaking from some experience.

There are other threads on this topic if you search for "bowling" on AZ.

9BallPaul
11-26-2012, 03:19 PM
Time was, every respectable bowling alley (yep, that's what we called 'em, had at least a couple of 9-foot tables (either Brunswick or AMF) and many bowlers indulged in pool while waiting for their leagues, or maybe afterward.

Bowling alleys are still doing OK in my area, but pool halls are withering. Bowling has a TV contract; the last time I saw pool on TV was several months ago.

Finally, bowling has revamped its image. The bowlers show lots of emotion, interact with the crowd, and pump the audience.

Pool could learn from this, but probably won't.

Donny Lutz
11-27-2012, 06:49 AM
Time was, every respectable bowling alley (yep, that's what we called 'em, had at least a couple of 9-foot tables (either Brunswick or AMF) and many bowlers indulged in pool while waiting for their leagues, or maybe afterward.

Bowling alleys are still doing OK in my area, but pool halls are withering. Bowling has a TV contract; the last time I saw pool on TV was several months ago.

Finally, bowling has revamped its image. The bowlers show lots of emotion, interact with the crowd, and pump the audience.

Pool could learn from this, but probably won't.

Bowling has a contract and that's about it. The women's pro bowling tour had one but the media didn't promote it...now it's gone.

I bowled on TV several times in the '60s. Believe me there were lots of colorful players back than...I was one! Andy Varipapa and Carmen Salvino just to mention two more.

Bowling and pool are both losing ground now largely because they are virtually never covered on any sports news shows on any network. Media wants violence in sports; you just don't get this on the lanes or the felt.

krupa
11-27-2012, 07:10 AM
ESPN should change their name to "The football and basketball and sometimes other sports (meaning baseball and hockey) when we can't find any football or basketball related things to talk about" Network

Or:

TFABASOS(MBAH)WWCFAFOBRTTTAN

I like it... it's gotta ring to it. :thumbup:

Tobermory
11-27-2012, 07:41 AM
Dear Donny Lutz--

Wow! The mere mention of Carmen Salvino has put me back in the living room of our family home with every member of my immediate family who is now deceased gathered around the console TV! Thanks for the memory. I think boxing came on next. I'll wait and see if anyone mentions the Moyer brothers. That will really bring a tear to my eye.

KC7MRQ
11-27-2012, 07:50 AM
I bowled on TV several times in the '60s. Believe me there were lots of colorful players back than...I was one! Andy Varipapa and Carmen Salvino just to mention two more.



Donny,
Funny you mention Andy. I threw my first Varipapa 300 last night and no one my age knew what I was talking about. I struck out from frame 3 to frame 5 the next game.

Corey

MoneyBox
11-27-2012, 08:13 AM
The professional side of both is definitely on the decline...and showing no signs of turning around.

Bowling will end up lasting longer because the caliber of play from professional bowlers is easy for casual players to understand because there is a point structure. There are intricacies in bowling that most don't understand either (oil patterns, rev rates, etc), but it doesn't change the feedback a casual observer is receiving. It's much tougher for a casual player to understand the shape SVB played on the 2 ball so he could get the proper angle 3 balls later.

That said, I think bowling movies trump pool movies. The (Big Lebowski + Kingpin) > (TCOM + The Hustler).

TheBook
11-27-2012, 08:25 AM
Bowling is more popular and golf for the same reason, your game is not affected by the other person's playing ability.

In pool if the other person is better your playing time at the table is exponentially reduced. In both bowling and golf you get play every hole and frame. You may not win but at least you get your chance to play and e game is not controlled by the better skilled player. The handicap also helps more in those sports than the handicap in pool for the same reason. In pool the poorer player still plays less than more and the game is controlled by the better player.

bdorman
11-27-2012, 01:10 PM
Bowling is more popular and golf for the same reason, your game is not affected by the other person's playing ability.



Excellent point I hadn't ever thought about.

I played with the idea of an 8-ball game in which shooters rotate turns; doesn't matter if you pocket a ball or not (well, it matters to win...but you don't keep shooting). It's like "pocket and play safe"; kind of a cross between 8-ball and one-pocket.

BTW, I grew up in St. Louis. Any of you bowlers remember Nelson Burton?

david(tx)
11-27-2012, 01:41 PM
Bowling has a contract and that's about it. The women's pro bowling tour had one but the media didn't promote it...now it's gone.

I bowled on TV several times in the '60s. Believe me there were lots of colorful players back than...I was one! Andy Varipapa and Carmen Salvino just to mention two more.

Bowling and pool are both losing ground now largely because they are virtually never covered on any sports news shows on any network. Media wants violence in sports; you just don't get this on the lanes or the felt.



I watched bowling for many years , bowled for recreation but never tried to improve , by recreationally i mean occasionally , but i understood the game and watched it. I hated when they started jacking with the stair step format . My mother liked watching bowling , mens and womens , and the only TV she watched was Wheel of Fortune :) .All the bowling i see anymore is video taped.I remember when you could hang out for hours at a bowling alley(center)and bowl , shoot pool or play pin ball games and one had batting cages below the main level .

wahcheck
11-27-2012, 01:57 PM
Most of the bowling alleys around the Bay Area have closed down.
Kinda weird, like a forgotten or obsolete sport.
I seem to recall seeing some pro bowling on TV relatively recently though.
I think pro bowlers always had it better than pro pool players.

9BallPaul
11-27-2012, 05:29 PM
Bowling has a contract and that's about it. The women's pro bowling tour had one but the media didn't promote it...now it's gone.

I bowled on TV several times in the '60s. Believe me there were lots of colorful players back than...I was one! Andy Varipapa and Carmen Salvino just to mention two more.

Bowling and pool are both losing ground now largely because they are virtually never covered on any sports news shows on any network. Media wants violence in sports; you just don't get this on the lanes or the felt.

So long as we're dropping names, here's a few from that era: Don Carter (the Efren of his sport, back in the day) Buzz Fazio, Tom Hennessee, Ray Bluth, Joe Joseph and Dick Weber.

Harold Smith
11-27-2012, 06:01 PM
Don't forget Earl Anthony

DeepBanks
11-27-2012, 07:56 PM
BTW, I grew up in St. Louis. Any of you bowlers remember Nelson Burton?

Met Nelson several times . . . and one of the all-time greats from St. Louis - Mr. Dick Weber.

warfdiesel
11-27-2012, 08:30 PM
I am a PBA member myself. I carry a "PRO" card. However I dont have the money to compete on the tour. However I believe the reason that more people can relate to bowling is because of this fact. I started bowling seven years ago. And in seven years I have became a "pro", won a regional tour tournament, bowled twenty six "300" games and eight "800" series. I honestly believe that in a mere seven years I can compete with anyone in the world. It is simply easier to become a skilled bowler then it is a pool player. I have been playing pool steadly for 2 1/2 years and I am barely a C player.

david(tx)
11-27-2012, 08:41 PM
I am a PBA member myself. I carry a "PRO" card. However I dont have the money to compete on the tour. However I believe the reason that more people can relate to bowling is because of this fact. I started bowling seven years ago. And in seven years I have became a "pro", won a regional tour tournament, bowled twenty six "300" games and eight "800" series. I honestly believe that in a mere seven years I can compete with anyone in the world. It is simply easier to become a skilled bowler then it is a pool player. I have been playing pool steadly for 2 1/2 years and I am barely a C player.



Nice perspective but do you think the opposite might apply to somebody else ? Maybe you have a knack for bowling more than pool.

rayjay
11-27-2012, 08:58 PM
Nice perspective but do you think the opposite might apply to somebody else ? Maybe you have a knack for bowling more than pool.

Do you think bowling is on an equal level of difficulty as pool? I don't.

warfdiesel
11-27-2012, 10:08 PM
Do you think bowling is on an equal level of difficulty as pool? I don't.

Have you ever bowled on a tour shot. To compete on tour you have to be able to hit a spot on the lane the width of a piece of black tape about 45 or 50 feet down lane with your bowling ball. And if you miss you might squirt out the back or go through the nose. I believe to be a pro in any sport it is difficult.

However I will say this. At this point in time I would much rather play pool then bowl.

bigwillo
11-28-2012, 09:00 AM
Bowling is more popular and golf for the same reason, your game is not affected by the other person's playing ability.

In pool if the other person is better your playing time at the table is exponentially reduced. In both bowling and golf you get play every hole and frame. You may not win but at least you get your chance to play and e game is not controlled by the better skilled player. The handicap also helps more in those sports than the handicap in pool for the same reason. In pool the poorer player still plays less than more and the game is controlled by the better player.
That is one of the main reasons I love POOL300. When you come to the table, you have a new rack and it doesn't matter what your opponent did, you still get a chance to make a strike.

www.pool300.com

cajunfats
11-28-2012, 11:09 PM
While I had an Uncle and Cousins who bowled in Leagues in a nearby city, I did not pick up a Bowling Ball until I was in the Army. I enjoyed it very much and even played on a military league for a season. Got a Patch and a Card.

When I was younger, I'd watch ABC Wide World of Sports Bowling with Chris Schenkel. One of my faves was Johnny Petraglia! Wicked spin and curve!

I like the explosive nature of the pins flying! You notice it even on other lanes when you bowl.

Never bowled a 300 Game. Have bowled a lot of 200's +, of which I am proud. Amazing I had any time to play because I was spending 35 hours a week playing pool at the Recreation Center on Base.

I don't have anything to contribute to the opinion about the predicament in Bowling. I could write a book about the predicament in Pool, however.

EagleMan
11-28-2012, 11:23 PM
Bowling has a tour; pool does not. :o

Read all about it ---> Could this happen to a pool player? (http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=168591) :wink:

Good point. And I would add that I don't KNOW but would hazard a GUESS that no pro bowler has ever been stiffed on prize money in a PBA sanctioned event.

On the contrary, while you are right that pool doesn't have the equivalent of the PBA any more...pool players getting stiffed at even massively popular and iconic events seems to be becoming the rule rather than the exception.

(-:

EagleMan

mcericville
11-29-2012, 02:23 AM
Just to throw in my two cents here - I actually work at a bowling alley/pool hall in Chicago. We have 16 9ft. tables and 16 BPA regulation lanes. We get maybe twice as many bowlers as we do pool players (our lanes have waiting lists quite often, where our pool tables are always open), but this may be anecdotal.

Have you ever bowled on a tour shot. To compete on tour you have to be able to hit a spot on the lane the width of a piece of black tape about 45 or 50 feet down lane with your bowling ball. And if you miss you might squirt out the back or go through the nose. I believe to be a pro in any sport it is difficult.

However I will say this. At this point in time I would much rather play pool then bowl.

I agree that being a pro in anything is insanely difficult, but I will also say this - both games involve the pursuit of a recognizable perfection (in bowling, a 300, in pool, not letting your opponent get a chance to shoot). However - in bowling there are WAY less variables involved. Lane conditions are pretty predictable after one frame, and after that, you're throwing a ball towards the same position every time. In billiards, there are WAY more variables - position, table speed, stroke replication, banking, kicking, safeties, combination shots, and that's all just in 9 and 8ball alone.

Also, when I started working at the bowling alley/pool hall I had never really bowled before, but I had been playing pool for 2 years. 3 years later, I average a 175 in bowling, but still have trouble stringing more than 2 racks together in straight pool.