Conditions, new format successful for Tampa summer doubles league.


Bill Adkins laughs when he thinks about the ruckus his summer Sport Bowling league has started in Tampa. He chuckles when he thinks about the beatings many players' averages have taken, thanks to the challenging Sport Bowling lane conditions. And the format was different enough to make a few folks shake their heads, too.


"It was like the old days. Everybody stopped bowling to watch because a 300 in this Sport Bowling league is really an achievement." - Bill Adkins

"They're having fun," Adkins said of the ReMax Sport Doubles League at Brandon Crossroads Bowl. "We have people coming in to watch the league now. They come up to see the shot and how the players do against it."


They also stopped in to check out the format. The 32 doubles teams featured four teams of two on each pair. All four anchor bowlers started on the left lane and all four leadoff bowlers were on the right lane. All four anchors bowled against the other anchors and all four leadoffs bowled against the other leadoffs with points awarded 3-2-1-0 for beating the opponents on their lane. There were also team points for a maximum of 36 if a bowler and his or her partner captured every point.


All competition was scratch. As the league grew from 12 to 32 doubles teams over its four-year history, it has split into two divisions. Teams with 398-or-under "traditional" averages (not Sport Bowling) bowled in the "B Division" to keep play equitable. The league was just not for high average players. Adkins said the players ranged from 140 to 230 in non-Sport averages and included a half-dozen women.


"Our guy who has the 140 average is actually improving," Adkins said. "Another guy averages 225 on house conditions and he said, 'I should have my butt kicked for being in this league. But I will not quit this league until I have a 200 average.'" Adkins, a Tampa Bay Bowling Association vice president, was assigned to get Sport Bowling off the ground in the area. He credited proprietor and Bowling Proprietors' Association of America President Jeff Boje' with supplying the support and equipment to make sure the lanes met Sport Bowling lane dressing requirements. Brandon Crossroads' head mechanic Tibor Polczer sat down with Adkins and created three different playing conditions that were used in the 12-week league season.


"Sport Bowling is great for the integrity of bowling and for that portion of our population who want the challenging conditions," Boje' said.

"It's interesting that my 13-year-old-son (Kelson) is one of them, although he isn't old enough to be in the league. He says he knows his average is too high and he wants a challenge, so he will ask the lane guys to put the Sport condition on a lane just so he can practice. He really gets it. Not everyone gets it or wants it."


Adkins, who has been bowling since 1962 and was president of the Heidelberg ( Germany ) B.A. while he was in the service, longs for the days of tougher bowling conditions. Sport Bowling brings the sport back to reality, he said.


"Back in the early `80s I averaged 203 when 200 was really a good average," he said. "Sport Bowling puts the challenge back in the game.

"It was torture when we started, but it's not torture now. The excitement now is beating the shot we put out and then beating those three other guys who often have a lot higher average than I do."


"Jeff (Boje') said he'd give $1 a pin to the first person to bowl 300 in our league," Adkins said. "I almost did it last night. I had the first nine, then left an 8-pin. "


"It was like the old days. Everybody stopped bowling to watch because a 300 in this Sport Bowling league is really an achievement."