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International Bowlers Continue to Dominate PBA: A Fan’s Opinion
The finals of the GEICO Shark Open saw Chris Barnes throw the 22nd nationally-televised 300 game in PBA history and Australia's Jason Belmonte win his second title this season, but it is an interesting back story that has everyone in the PBA talking.
This season has seen foreigners capture titles at the WTBA World Bowling Tour Finals (Mike Koivuniemi - Finland), PBA World Championship (Osku Palermaa - Finland), Bayer Viper Open (Steward Williams - England), the Chameleon Open (Belmonte) and the Scorpion Open (Dom Barret - England) to go along with Belmonte's title at the Shark Open.
As a bowling fan, I am conflicted as to whether this streak is good or bad for the PBA.
On the one hand, professional bowling has perennially been a U.S. centric sport. With their TV contract with ESPN and numerous U.S. based sponsors, I am sure the PBA wants at least some winners coming out of the U.S. Otherwise, the league could face a similar problem that the LPGA has been facing in recent years with the international domination seen in that league.
But on the other hand, I think it is great for the sport long term. The international success can do nothing but increase interest in bowling. More interest leads to more players. More players lead to more superstars. More superstars lead to more endorsements and marketing opportunities globally.
Following his win at the Shark Open, Belmonte spoke on the subject of the recent success of foreign born players.
"In my opinion, the U.S. has by far the best bowlers in the world, but the world is catching up and I think the World Series of Bowling is proving it," he said. "Stu Williams, Dom Barrett, Osku (Palermaa), Martin Larsen, Andres Gomez, Ildemaro Ruiz; there are so many international players who have now gone past the amateur level.
"It has taken us time for us to learn the tricks of the trade, and to understand the lifestyle and how to deal with it. But we're at the point where we can come out here and be successful.
"In the past, (international players) haven't really come to the U.S. a lot and the Americans haven't come to us, but now the PBA Tour and the World Bowling Tour are causing that to happen. It's a cool thing."
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.
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