I have offered several solutions to both OLB and BCB in the past, both verbally and in writing. I keep on hearing the “oh, that’s nice but we could never do that because so and so wouldn’t want that” comments. The problem with that is that when I speak with those same so and so’s they see a lot of merit in the solutions.
So what is the problem here – our unwillingness to change – our inability to be proactive?
I think so! I have to admit that looking back some of the ideas I have proposed for discussion may or may not have been workable without a lot of due diligence, but considering where we are now they certainly would have been a better solution than the mire in which we have been stuck. In the past few years I have been promoting and garnering opinions from many bowlers, both competitive and grass roots alike. These include bowlers both locally and nation wide. Most agree that the solution I am about to offer is both workable, inclusive and would contribute significantly to the growth of our game. It would go a long way to attracting serious sponsors and eventually lead us to partnerships akin to curling/Pinty’s or curling/Scotties/ or curling/Timmy’s. I use curling as an example because we are the same sport – we just play on grass!
The following solution is the nutshell version of my solution. There are many details I would be willing to work out with a committee of like minded, progressive people in our sport. Or you can just sit there, stir the sludge we’re in right now and watch our sport go further down the drain.
The Playdowns Ontario Playdowns
The Majors - Fours & Singles
The Majors will be contested in Fours and Singles only – will be competed for by players who hold an Ontario Membership Card, and need not be members of the same club (applies to Fours teams) and will be competed for in sections at two regional centres. The format of these Majors will be round robin to declare the top 4 teams coming out of that region. These top four teams from each region will advance to the Ontario Finals where the Ontario Finals will be a round robin between the 8 finalists. A subsequent paige playoff system used to declare the Ontario Champion and Runner-up in all competitions.
Both regional and provincial playdowns will be held on greens running SRPM 13 or better, but no faster than SRPM 17 greens surfaces. The greens will be level and true and the use of greens protectors will not be allowed during play at any time.
Fours teams will declare a team coach prior to the start of play, the coach shall accompany teams to the provincial finals and may be used as the team alternate.
Singles will be contested in sets – in sections as outlined above. Singles will be contested under the same parameters of play as outlined in the Fours. The winners of the Fours and Singles will earn the right to compete for a spot (a birth) in Bowls' own version of curling's Roar of the Rings, competing against members of the National Team. The winner of our Bowls RotR will represent Canada at the upcoming World Bowls or Commonwealth Games in their respective event (either Fours or Singles).
Novice Playdowns can be contested by bowlers not having previously won a regional event in Fours or Singles and will be contested in Two Bowl Triples. They will also be competed for by players who hold an Ontario Membership Card, and need not be members of the same club. Novice pladowns will be competed for in sections at two regional centres, the format of which will be round robin to declare the top 4 teams coming out of that region, where the top four teams will advance to the Ontario Finals. Winning teams will be awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals at the end of play. Novice playdowns will be held on greens running SRPM 13 or better, but no faster than SRPM 17 greens surfaces. Like with the Majors, the greens will be level and true and the use of greens protectors will not be allowed during play at any time. Teams will declare a team coach prior to the start of play, and the coach shall accompany their teams to the regional finals. Team coaches may not be used as the team alternate if they have more than 5 years of Bowls experience or have been a regional champion in any event, or a past Ontario Champion as declared prior to the current year.
Club Teams will consist of three different pairings: Men’s 3 Bowl Pairs (M3bP), Women’s 3 Bowl Pair (W3bP), Mixed 3 Bowl Pairs (Mx3bP). Games will be played in sets of 3, with 5 ends played per set. Players must have a current Ontario Membership players and may only represent the club to which they live the closest (easily verified through google maps data). Clubs will have a set period of time to declare the club winners who will comprise their Club Team.
Clubs will post for entries and will play off in a round robin format to determine the club representatives for each event (M3bP, W3bP, Mx3bP). The three teams (M3bP, W3bP, Mx3bP) will play their inter-club games as a team event. Points will be awarded for sets won and in the event of a tie the total club team shot differential will declare the winning team.
In the first inter-club match Club Teams will play the club next closest in proximity to them (ie Cobourg’s first match would be with Port Hope - when it was still open). This would be determined at the start of the season by participating clubs who would have met the entry deadline date. An alternative to this would be to simply award byes to clubs who have no opponent (ie if Port Hope had declared a team but Cobourg could not declare a full team then Port Hope would be declared the 1st stage winner). Home advantage will alternate from one year to the next if the greens of the host team has greens running a minimum of SRPM 11.5, else the club with the fastest reading will be declared the host club at completion of the first round of play.
The winning Club Team would play the next winning Club Team (proximity declared in advance and according to entries). This format continues until there are 16 Club Team Champions. The 16 Club Team Champions will meet at a venue that tests out at an SRPM minimum of SRPM 13 and no more than SRPM 17. The 16 teams will participate in a double knockout playdown over two days to declare the medalists.
Benefits of this system of play
- It is inclusive in that it allows players of all levels (grass roots in the Club Playdowns, competitive in both Club and Provincial Playdowns and also-rans and newbies in Novice Playdowns) to participate.
- It encourages participation and integration into the local club by competitive bowlers at the club level it solves the perceived problem of parachute teams in provincial play and allows for competitive players from smaller clubs to play in the fours event with players from other clubs, not matter the location within the Ontario boundaries.
- It encourages coaching and player development at both the club and competitive levels
- It offers sponsors a viable product that they can associate with (see below why this would work)
- It keeps the Club Playdowns reasonably local for the first few rounds and thus encourages participation while cutting down on the associated costs in time and money i
- t creates rivalries between clubs - a key missing ingredient for any sport that has been missing in ours encourages bettering our greens, which in turn will promote better bowling, which in turn will lead to better retention numbers throughout the sport, which in turn will make recruiting an easier task
Sponsorships and Awards
For the past two years I have asked bowlers and bowls administrators alike the following question. I would ask you to ask yourself the same question right now. Once you read the question you have only 8 seconds to answer. Scenario #1 Pretend you are a major sponsor… Travelocity, Starbucks, Home Depot, Desjardins Insurance. You will ask the bowls governing body (Provincial or National) the following question and you expect an answer within 8 seconds (although you would not tell them they have a time limit)
I would like to get involved with sponsoring a high profile event in your sport. What is your best event that would give me the greatest overall exposure for my company?
Now this is the sad part. Every time I asked this question over the past few years I have received: hums and haws, or a list of all the (handfuls of) events that we call our championships, or a blank stare as if they didn’t understand the question.
Not once did anyone, or could anyone in all honesty declare a best event – our sports' best event – not the one they personally liked playing in the most. There is a huge difference!
Now lets ask that question again, given that we would be using the 3 types of playdowns as I have outlined above.
Pretend you are a major sponsor – Travelocity, Starbucks, Home Depot, Desjardins Insurance. You will ask the bowls governing body (Provincial or National) the following question and you expect an answer within 8 seconds (although you would not tell them they have a time limit)
The Question – I would like to get involved with sponsoring a high profile event in your sport. What is your best event that would give me the greatest overall exposure for my company?
The Answer – Very proudly the answer would go something like this: Wow, that’s great news. We actually have three very distinct possibilities for you (here is where you briefly outline the 3 different playdowns: 1 - The Majors, 2 - Novice and 3 - Club Team Event. Because of what your company represents, however we believe our Club Team Event represents your best bang for the buck. As a travel company we think this grass root level to provincial champion event will reach the largest audience for you. Your company would be in the forefront from opening day when the clubs announce the dates for the “Travelocity Club Championships” right through to the actual Ontario (or Canada when they follow suit, as they will) Championships.
In return we know that through your affiliation with the various hotels, restaurants and airlines we could come up with a very attractive prize package that would also garner us some airtime for both Travelocity and Lawn Bowls - together.
Can you imagine it!
- The Canadian Travelocity Club Team Champions not only are Canadian champions but they’ve also won (each member) an all inclusive trip for two for (destination tbd by Travelocity in agreement with OLB and/or eventually BCB).
- Runner-ups (medalists) would receive complimentary hotel stays and/or restaurant coupons.
- Each member who started at the grass roots level would also receive a coupon from a participating hotel or restaurant chain to the value of their nominal entry fee.
It’s not brain surgery folks… but our sport certainly needs surgery, not bandaids. This is a very viable solution I have offered here. I am willing to work with those who believe our sport is in trouble and are willing to use this solution as a framework for resurrecting our great game.
Regards Dan Milligan “The Delivery Doctor” – MVP Sports