Bowling On – 21 November

As we near the halfway mark for the Bowling season it is an appropriate time to review the health of the game.

After a thorough examination including CT scan, ultra-sound, Xray and MRI I am afraid Dr Tony has no option but to conclude “Terminally ill” and little chance of surviving another 20 years. If you don’t believe me here are some numbers. The Ladies will please forgive me for dealing only with men’s playing numbers but when I pulled out the 1990-91 season handbook it was a reminder that Apartheid was removed in South Africa before our two genders could see their way clear to work together in bowls.

That book told me that at that time 1992 men played the game in the Manawatu  compared to the 542 who do so today. In fact the 1450 that have disappeared represent nearly three times those who remain in the game. I hunted out the 1996-97 handbook next (still in the era of Bowls version of Apartheid) to see there were 1594 playing then so the decline had commenced but there were still more than a thousand more in the game than today. It doesn’t surprise me that the decline started in this period as New Zealand changed forever with the advent in 1990 of almost unrestricted weekend shopping.

For you information membership by club in 1990-91 and today follows. I have bracketed clubs that have amalgamated and placed an asterisk beside those that are defunct;

Ashhurst       38        12
Bulls              43        29
Dannevirke  197        29
Feilding)
Oroua   )       242       69
Foxton  )
Foxton Bch)  194       28
Hokowhitu    172       33
Himatangi       –          21
Kairanga        24*
Kimbolton      32        17
Manawatu      98*
Northern      195        52
Pahiatua         90        11
Palm Nth      213       110
Shannon        70        18
Takaro          135       38
Te Kawau       36          9
Terrace End  154        49
Woodville       59         17

TOTAL.          1992      542

The figures speak for themselves thus my health assessment is pretty accurate.  Among the reasons for the change are;

1. The game takes too long
2. Weekend Shopping
3. The game takes too long
4. Weekend work
5. The game takes too long
6. Change in our ethnicity
7. The game takes too long
8. Poor administration at all levels
9. The game takes too long
10. The game does not lend itself to TV.

And by the way the game takes too long! The “taking too long” has many forms. For instance the Centre Open Singles were played on 12 and 13 October 2013 and then the final was held over. Here we are at the end of November and it still hasn’t been played. Imagine a game of League going to Golden Boot and you hold that part over for six weeks. Or you play the US Open and hold the playoff over and don’t bother setting a date.

Tournaments take too long in both length of game and duration. There is little or no restriction on time wasting and that aspect is demonstrably worse than it was 20 years ago. “Posers” will wander nonchalantly to the head, walk round it three times, walk halfway back to the mat, return for one more lap of the head then go back and play a nothing shot. All the while their team mates are close to comatose from boredom.

Two other aspects of the game that many people find unattractive are smoking on the green and drinking during play. Imagine Richie McCaw imploring his troops to greater effort with a fag hanging out his mouth or in the dressing room having a pint at halftime! For mine it’s not an attractive part of the sport and how many has it put off the game? Perhaps we need to ask those 1450 who no longer play.

I know this column sounds very negative but the facts don’t lie. No doubt there’ll be a few knives waiting for my back if I get back on the green sometime.

TONY JENSEN

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