Make it a Goal, not a Resolution and you will succeed!
Happy New Year… I think!
Well here we are into yet another year. Apparently this one is numbered 2015 and follows the one that just flew by they called 2014. Will it be just like the ones before that? Will it fly by too? Did it zip by without accomplishing any of the things we really wanted to get done? How would we even know… if we didn’t set out to do anything? Or did we?
Aha… there’s the rub! Did we even set out to do anything? Did we set ourselves some goals. Were they actually attainable? Were they realistic? Did we let anyone know about them before we started them or did we just hope by not announcing them we would be able to lolling our way through another year without getting anything done? Did we write any of them down?
Save your back, hips, knees and greens with the Ubi_Launcher™
Years ago people scoffed at curlers who used a stick to help them get a rock from one end to the other. Those early pioneers took it on the chin and we're glad they did, for the entire game of curling today thanks them for it. Our own curling club has close to 20% of our curlers (over 70 in all) playing with the stick. It has saved their curling careers and by so doing saved many a curling club. We rely on each and every member of the club no matter what delivery method they choose to use to keep us running. Can you imagine how, if we are the norm, the game of curling could survive in Canada if not for the 200,000 stick curlers.
So what have we done about this in Bowls? Practically nothing. I say practically because I had an agent some years ago wonder out loud with me why there wsn't such a tool available in bowls, and in fact encouraged us at MVP Sports to develop such a tool. We saw a very rudimentary delivery tool but it still necessitated bending over to set bowls and was prone to heavily scratching bowls. It also was best suited to only a few larger sizes of bowls. We have seen and sold bowling arms, however as we point out they require a certain degree of finger, hand and wrist strength and are not suitable to a large segment of the bowls population who have retired from the sport due to arthritic conditions.
So here we are a few years of development later and we are proud to announce a new product, developed and manufactured here in Canada by Canadians for bowlers throughout the world. We hope beyond hope that it will become the saviour of the game of bowls just as it has done with curling. We have been fortunate to have been able to work with a fine young group of sports-minded engineers on this project. They ensured that strength and measurement tolerances were met, keeping in mind that we wanted a lightweight, adjustable, multi-functional, durable and most of all affordable delivery aid for lawn bowlers.
Greens Protectors are for Celery and Broccoli, not Bowls!
I was asked last fall about the availability of the "Greens Protector Mats!" Those who know me well will tell you I have never been an advocate for these potential lawsuits waiting to happen! That would be an understatement!
As a prior greenskeeper I know the bane of bowls is the dumper. In fact I figure each dumper a club has costs the club close to $800 in damages to the green and maintenance time to try to correct the damage done. Given that cost, I do have a few solutions, some of which are not always initially seen as positive but all of which are offered for the good of the club. I trust they will be taken as such, and if you should have any further questions please feel free to call or email for clarification.
Dunno if it's just me but I din't think so... Technology is a wonderful thing... but it has its limitations. There is no one form of media or social media that can do everything. Norm had a good point in TBiC when he thought his post had been deleted as some posts are in some FB Groups (not naming names)... but in fact his post had not been removed as Michael pointed out. The problem is in the interface. Different product needs different packaging. I don't sell bowls in plastic bags just like I don't sell towels in a box. The internet is no different.
There has been much discussion surrounding Provincial Playdowns over the years. A plethora of patchwork solutions get offered each year, and these days most of it seems to be spread through social media, the great water cooler of the internet. Most of the comments we see posted in social media, and that I hear from bowlers are centred around complaints of what is wrong with the system. Too many times there is no solution offered. Even where a solution is offered, most of them are simply reworks of a dreadfully broken existing system of play. On one thing though everyone I speak with can agree. The system is broken. So how do we fix it?
A brief history of the playdowns
Let’s go back a few years… ok… several decades! Next year will be my 49th year in Bowls but it has been many years since I have seriously taken part in the Provincial playdowns. Back in the old days we would often have upwards of 30 singles players show up on a Sunday to play a single knock out competition, up to 20 pairs teams on another given Sunday, and occasionally even break the double digit mark in fours teams for that district competition.
That was in the days when we had twice as many bowlers in Ontario folks! For those who don’t remember or who weren’t there you played your first stage (Fours) in one of 16 District Playdowns and if victorious went on to play a round robin with 3 other teams in one of the 4 appropriate Zone Playdowns. If you won there you showed up and played a 3 game round robin to determine the Provincial Fours Champion. Meanwhile the Pairs and Singles has gone through a similar process.
On the day of the Ontario Championships the Fours, Pairs and Singles Champions were all declared. If you won your District Fours and lost in your Zones that was it for you in the Ontario Playdowns that year. A little harsh but at least if you lost your District Fours you tried again in the District Pairs, and if you lost that you tried again in the District Singles. Three chances to make it through to the Zones. One chance to make it from the Zones to the Ontario Finals.
All in all five weekends were taken up with Provincial Playdowns and in the case of the Districts usually only one day was burnt as apparently we had more stamina in those days and played four or five games in a day. That left us with plenty of time and energy to play in other events both locally and province wide.
We had lots of time to support both our own club and those to which we travelled… and travel we did. We had time to pick and choose the competitions we attended, to pick and choose the level of competition we chose. In our case we chose to play at the elite level competitions at least a couple of times a month, travelling 6 hours per day and sometimes 10 - 12 on a weekend to bang heads against the best in the province. Why did we travel this much? Because we knew the best were going to be there, that every game meant something… and yes because of the love of the game!
Colts and Fillies were the Novice event back then and yes they were played in the same fashion as the “regular” Playdowns, and were declared on the same Ontario Championships weekend.
So, we had 4 events… Fours, Pairs, Singles, Colts/Fillies… with twice as many players and far more competitors than we have today! Because this only took 5 days to play we had open weekends when we could spend time supporting other club’s tournaments, where we could travel to various other tournaments throughout the province, and still be left with time to spend with family.
That was then and it seemed so simple!
Fast Forward 40 years!
These days we have events coming out our ying yang (whatever that means!), basically tying up each and every weekend throughout the bowls season. What do we have… maybe 23 or 24 weekends of play here in Ontario? And I’d harken to guess that over 80% of those are taken up playing some form of a Playdown! So… 16 weekends… not days… weekends. In some cases the Playdowns are run on weekdays, in direct conflict with a club tournament. Now that makes sense doesn’t it!?
We have: Fours, Pairs, Singles, Novice Triples, Triples, Senior Triples, Mixed Pairs with the possibility of Open Fours coming? I know I’m missing a few here so forgive me if I’m a bit confused. Why have we added so many new events when our numbers have dropped in half in the last few decades? Who has this serviced?
We look at participation and some try and compare total entries with other years, but what you have to compare is the number of individuals who actually participate, not total entires. Put up your hand if you played in 4 or more of the above listed playdowns this year. Put up your hand if you played in all of them. Put it back down, because you’re probably exhausted enough from all that travel. If you played in the District playdowns and made it through as a winner… or (gasp!) alternate and didn’t win at the provincial level then you have effectively blown off 14 weekends this year. What if you happen to win! You get to spend your kids college fund or your retirement fund travelling to some beat up green across Canada and bunker down in who knows what bed bug infested hotel (ok, that may be a bit extreme) to compete for one of our vaunted Canadian Championships. In the old days you could name tech Canadian Champions from the present year, the past year and many years before that. You could quote how many Canadians Jim Law had won. I wonder just how many can even remember who won the Canadians in this present year!
Think about it!
What were you doing before you got caught up in the mess that is now our playdowns?
I have spoken with bowlers who are absolutely wiped out by the amount of travel to playdowns/finals. To a person they wish there were fewer of these events so that they could stay a little closer to home and play in some local tournaments. Hmmm, yes, that would mean supporting their local clubs! What a novel idea that would be!
I woke up this morning and, for whatever reason, this was the question that was on my mind! Usually it’s a question of what to do next in one of our home renovation projects, or what can I develop next to make one of the games I play (bowls, golf curling) a better game. But no, today it was the burning question of what defines Bowls as a sport.
And you know what? I didn’t have an answer.
So, I got to thinking about other sports. Hockey, for instance, has the Stanley Cup and that is surely defining enough. Football has the Super Bowl as its big game (the Grey Cup here in the Great White North). Soccer/Football has the World Cup. Baseball has the World Series. These are all team games with a set number of players and the big events are played pretty much the same way as they play in their league play leading up to the “event.” Cricket has whatever they play for a championship, but it looks the same as their league play. Aussie Rules Football (brilliant game!) has its exciting finals (in Sydney when I was there in ’85).There are other team games that also fall in line with this where the Defining Moment of the sport is a culmination of how the game is normally played.