Why Promote? By Alan “Mr. Stats” Brizee © August 10, 2014, rev. Mar. 2020
Almost no league secretary today in 2020, will go out of their way to help the bowlers and more important, the league as a whole. It’s not required per their responsibilities by the rules for league play. With computers, doing the secretarial work is really super easy. Some centers will do the standings and awards for the league. So the secretary is now more of a title instead of a job. Less work for the same money. Why would you not want the job? Well, you still have to pass out standing sheets and envelopes if you’re also the treasurer. Leagues are losing bowlers and many leagues have folded. Bowling centers are closing and there fewer options if you were at a center that just closed for good. There are plenty of reasons why bowlers won’t or don’t bowl the following season and several reasons why they don’t finish the season. Financial, league prize fund, league’s weekly fee being raised, the local association’s decisions with the league, marital, work, friends, injuries, lack of enjoyment, teammates, other members of the league, personal problems, disputes about league rules, league officer’s behavior, center manager, center staff, league changing centers, time of the league, day of the week, traffic getting to and from the center and finally the time involved to bowl three game of league including travel time. At least 20 ways that any bowler may say they had enough and stop showing up to bowl. There are maybe more ways to justify why they don’t want to bowl than reasons to bowl. So I’ll ask you again, why promote?
The real question is what is a bowling league? Isn’t a league like a business? The finances are the prize fund. The customers and employees are the league bowlers. The league officers and team captains are the board of directors. And like any business, when there is money involved, there are usually problems. It may not be a major problem, but even a minor problem can hurt a league. In my 40 years, at least half of the adult leagues, had some problem with what I’ve have already told you about. So a league is like an independent company where employees may quit to find a better job. You need to hire an employee to take his job so you advertise that you’re a great company to work and offer a good salary. When a league member quits or gets injured and can’t finish the season, the team advertises by word of mouth that they need a bowler. It’s somewhat hit and miss with mostly miss. A missing bowler really doesn’t make the league better. It actually creates more stress with the team that has to use a vacancy. Missing bowlers are part of the team’s finances. Prize fund fees and lineage are sometimes at the discretion of the league’s board of directors, and some of the cost may be put back on the team. So, you’re wondering why I’m writing a lot of negative stuff when you thought it was about promoting. Some not so good things happen in bowling, and there were times when I was even going to throw in the towel. Promotions aren’t all about getting new bowlers, but getting new bowlers means a higher salary. It is also to retain bowlers so your salary isn’t reduced. But another reason, is for all the negatives I’ve explained before, to give bowlers a reason why they want to continue to bowl in the league.
What a league offers to the members is sometimes more important the day of the week. The size of a league can be factored in with brackets and 50/50 tickets. Secretaries as well as league officers should wake up because good jobs at times are hard to come by. Some bowlers have to pick job over bowling because you can’t bowl without some income. After a job change, it could be about what some leagues offer over other leagues. If your league offer very little for a competitive bowler, they would probably bowl a different league. This article has 39 ways to promote a league and using several ways could make your league unique over other leagues. These ideas create interest within the league and could be the start of something you never expected. It’s called word of mouth advertising. The good thing is, it’s free J. Secretaries should have flyers at the center and advertise why new bowlers would pick their league over another. If you don’t promote, who will? The center gives minimal info on leagues. When I was elected secretary/ treasurer of the Traveling Masters in its first season, promoting a 12 team scratch league, would be the only way it could grow or possibly even survive. As you’ll read here, I didn’t make it happen. With the help of the league president, you could say we helped make it happen. It’s because it’s what the bowlers wanted and were willing to participate to make it happen.
Why promote? The league may fold if it doesn’t. Members and teams may move to another league that does. New members may never join if you don’t. League members won’t tell outside bowlers what a great league you have. Sponsors may not renew for following season. It’s the best way to attract sponsors and get their business noticed so they willing to sponsor. It’s the best way to get your league noticed. And of course, it’s the right thing to do.
I wrote this when I was elected secretary/ treasurer of the Cactus Bowl Men’s League on Friday nights. I was trying to build a handicap league up that was losing bowlers and one season after moving the league to the new Cactus Bowl, the league lost a few more teams. Even though the league folded after one season, nobody can’t say I didn’t try my best to create interest in it. I tried to use the same principles when I was secretary of the Vantage Lite Traveling Masters League. The T.M. (Traveling Masters) league was a scratch league that bowled the last shift at 9 P.M. and traveled to the five Vantage centers. It was originally the Tucson Bowl Masters that filled the 24 lane center with 24 teams. After the 95- 96 season with only 16 teams, there was a possibility the league would fold partly because of lane conditions. This was just during the beginning of the reactive resin ball explosion. Reactive resin ball will pick up some of the oil from the lanes as they are like sponges. Reactive resin are also designed to hook as soon as there is no oil on the lanes. Typically the ball dry the lanes out resulting in what’s known as break down. But they can still carry a small amount of oil, after they get though the oiled area, resulting in carry down and the ball not hooking as soon. When the lanes break down and makes the area that the bowlers play drier, bowlers now need to learn to adjust faster than in past years. Some centers were in the experimental stage of figuring the amount of oil needed to keep the lanes from breaking down too much and still keep the shot playable for most bowlers. Since we bowled the second shift after another league, the lanes were drier as they didn’t oil for the scratch league. Scores were sometimes determined by who bowled on your pair the first shift. It was more about where they played the lanes because it was a handicapped league with only a couple of 200 average bowlers.
One thing that made bowling at 9 P.M. worth it, the prize fund would be bigger, as the center isn’t charging the prime time rates of the 6:30 P.M. leagues. This added about $1 per bowler per week and over $2000 for the entire season for the league. The draw back was getting done at 11:45 P.M. and getting home after midnight to go to work. When the league was full with 96 bowlers, there was really no sweeper because nobody wanted to take the time to make it the reason why you’re bowling in one of the best scratch leagues in Tucson. Opportunities if only someone wanted to make a difference. Well I got a call about the meeting for the league, the summer of 1996. I went and very few actually showed up. Some felt there wasn’t enough interest to continue. The league did continue with just 12 teams as you’ll read, and what I did to transform the league. A lot of the ideas and concepts I used were new to Tucson, and the others, I created to make the T.M. league the most unique and the biggest prize fund for any 24 team league in possibly the United States. Promoting is about getting more involved and one reason, Tucson Tribute & Honor, honored me in March 2011. I have to thank Roy Tietz for making it special. No matter what you may have heard, I put a lot of work to double the league in three seasons. I always applied the principle of what was in the league’s best interest in any of my promotions.
I was only secretary for over nine full seasons and had to resign after taking a job in northern Arizona. It was partly due to the president of the league who didn’t agree with several things that helped the T.M. grow. If you’re not getting the respect you feel you deserve for doing your job, it might be time to move on. It really wasn’t a surprise that the league folded the following season. I did receive thanks from many bowlers who appreciated all my hard work and effort. Since this article is about promoting, it’s not just the big picture that people notice, it’s the little things and the help from others that made it enjoyable. I don’t feel there will be another league like the T.M. Most secretaries will feel it’s not worth the effort. But what you’re about to read, some ideas won’t take much time. My theory was to promote to retain bowlers and attract new faces, as your salary depended on the number of bowlers in the league. More bowlers means bigger salary and a few more dollars to promote the league. Not promoting the league may mean that bowlers quit, and now are you not only out of a job that pays for your bowling because the league folded, but you now have to pay for a league. How I attracted some of the best bowlers in Tucson is the same reason that average bowlers also wanted the T.M. And yes, I’ll say it again, it comes down to having fun and enjoying what you’re doing. Now you’ll read why I spent the extra time and some of my secretary’s salary to make the T.M., Tucson’s best scratch league.
Webster’s says Promote is “to further the growth”. To advertise is “to promote sales”. Promotions and advertising are tools to make bowling leagues better, retain members in your league and attract new members. Promotions are a good thing and very few leagues take the time to help their league by promoting. The real question is why don’t more Secretaries promote? Why don’t persons running brackets & optional events promote? Why doesn’t your league have a sweeper? Why do some leagues keep losing bowlers? Time and money is the answer to those questions and will be discussed later in this article. Promotions for the leagues that have them, can be different from your league. Promotions may work better in certain leagues based on the number of bowlers in the league as well as on each team. Obviously, the bigger the league, the better chance that promotions will work. The type of league is a huge factor for optional events, such as senior leagues as they are mostly retired and watching every dollar they spend. But some of may realize, they are those bowlers who will get into optional events if offered. As an added note, there also other ways to promote such as optional events that aren’t included here. But what you’ll read here, is more than what most leagues will offer to its members. Most of you will have to agree, these 12 pages of information if all were offered in your league, would make your league better. If enough bowlers knew these events were available, the league could grow to capacity.
Secretaries get a salary and it’s based on the number of bowlers. The league grows because of promoting the league and the secretary will make more money. Now people doing brackets and other optional events is another story. They may not make as much with promotions at first, but could still earn decent money. Promoting optional events will make the league better and more exciting. The current members that enter optional events will appreciate what is being offered and members that either don’t enter or participate once in a while in optionals may become an optional bowler for life. So promotions are a good thing. As you will see, I may have had a few too many promotions but at least I offered some mind blowing events that no other leagues have ever tried. The Vantage Lite Traveling Masters league became Tucson, Arizona’s best league because of the way the league was promoted. I’ll let you know the reasons to promote and what was offered in the 9 seasons plus that I helped build a league to double its’ members and increase the sweeper prize fund five times over. I’m writing this article so others can benefit from trying new things that can make your league more successful. I started slow with a few new optionals to create interest and when the bowlers responded in a huge way, they kind of snowballed to the upcoming list. These promotions were done in a scratch league and with small changes will work for handicapped leagues.
For the bowlers that do don’t know me, I have been a league secretary 4 times and a tournament director 3 times so I have been around the block a few times. The good thing is that I did things differently from other secretaries and know that promoting the league, your member’s good scores, offering weekly optionals and the season ending sweeper keeps bowlers not only interested, but excited to participate in the league. 30 years ago, bowlers would only see their name on the standings sheet if it was in the three scores for the season. There was no high scores for the week. Not much on the line in sweepers because there were no brackets. Several times I shot scores in the middle or late in the season that just missed the top three, so therefore my name didn’t make the standings sheet. American Bowling Congress had generic standings sheet and secretaries had to hand print or type them in. My first job at secretary lasted 2 seasons before Iceland Bowl closed the doors and I put the standings for the league on a 11” by 17” sheet because I had a computer. The 4 Stars Major league was a scratch league and I listed the top 5 games and series for the week and the top 20 games and series for the season. It had individual and team points listed to show the value of winning those team points. It had the bowler’s and team’s average over the last 4 weeks to show who was bowling the best for the last month. I did a small newsletter each week recapping last week’s results along with strikes thrown, number of opens and bowlers stringing strikes. It also listed league information like when the last two weeks were due. Most bowlers appreciated the extra work I did. Imagine with 63 other bowlers in the league and eight told you that you did a great job in your very first season. It showed the extra work made an impression.
A short history on the league where promotions gave new meaning to it. The Tucson Bowl Masters had just 12 teams for the 1995-96 season, losing 10 teams from the previous season due to a new traveling scratch league that formed, bowling at two centers. The secretary had the impression that nobody wanted to bowl the following season so the center had to call the members to inform them on a meeting date. The Masters had the most unique format for any league I’ve ever been in so I went to the meeting. None of the current officers showed up as well as some of the Masters bowlers who jumped ships to bowl in this new league. That meant all new officers had to be elected. John Baab was elected President and I was elected Secretary/ Treasurer. The members decided to start a traveling league due to some complaints about conditions at Tucson Bowl. Now with a competing scratch league that also traveled, promoting the league was not only necessary, but MUST HAPPEN for the league’s survival. The reasons to promote are what had to happen that first season I was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Vantage Lite Traveling Masters league.
The last sweeper of the Tucson Bowl Masters league wasn’t organized and had only 33% of the league participating. Only 2 pair of lanes besides the Roll-Off teams were needed. I cashed for a 2nd high game and lost money. It wasn’t a good feeling. With being secretary, I now have a chance to make things happen. The GREATEST thing that happened that first season of the Traveling Masters (To be referred to as T.M.s) was that John, our new president supported and approved my promotions because he also felt they would make the league stronger. I told him we needed changes to get more bowlers interested in the sweeper which would help retain members for future seasons. I started selling weekly strike pots with about $10 a week going into the league’s sweeper fund. $350 in added money for the sweeper will get more bowler involved in the sweeper. After a month of bowlers buying $1 and $2 each week, I went to John again. I told him the league should give $4 in tickets for $3 in sales (FREE $1 in tickets) and $7 for $5 in sales (FREE $2 in tickets) just like they do in Color Pins promotions. He said that sounded good and the very next week, ticket sales doubled and continued for several weeks. Now $15 to $20 was going into the fund depending on sales. With the added money from increased sales, the sweeper would have more prize money in ticket sales that the past sweeper’s total prize fund. Strike pots are now bigger with many weeks having two tickets being called. Some leagues have a 50/50 pot, but I felt that since it is a scratch league that bowlers should have to earn it. This also meant that pots not hit for that week, we would have money carried over for the following week and bowlers will spend a little more with two pots to start the evening. What the strike pots did was just the start of the explosion of optional events and promoting the league. The sweeper prize fund in the T.M.s first year was $1600, over 5 times that of the last Tucson Bowl Masters sweeper. Participation from the members doubled so just the promoting from within the league was astronomical. With the added money from the league’s sponsors’, Vantage Bowling Centers and Miller Lite beer, a lot was at stake to keep the league going as with 24 teams in the league, there would be an added $9400 into the prize fund. The start of the Stats Plus exclusive Tournament of Champions for bracket winners also helped get the members attention with added prize money coming from money deducted from weekly brackets that all persons in other leagues running brackets line their pockets with every week. The T.M.s league was known as the league of optional events. So now you know a little about me and why I went beyond what most secretaries will do. Read my mission statement about promoting.
A league secretaries’ job is sometimes thankless. They are to do weekly standings, turn in awards, furnish averages when needed and keep minutes for meetings. No where does ABC or USBC state that they have to promote their league. Most secretaries will not do any more than they have to. That’s not the way I ever have done the job. Promotion is a lot of work. If it was easy and didn’t require a lot of time, more secretaries would do it in a heartbeat. I’ve been asked this summer if I’m trying to compete with the league at Fiesta Lanes? I answered, ‘The league really can’t compete because of the teams in the league at Fiesta, because most bowlers have been there for over 15 years. I’m just offering an alternative for bowlers interested for Fridays and maybe can’t get on a team at Fiesta. This was after my article in Desert Bowler promoting the league. I also had a bowler call to join the league. So I spent less than one hour writing the article with an added $3000 in league sponsors and caught 2 bowlers attention. I’m sure many have read it but I was only informed by 2 bowlers. As some of you know, I bowled in the Fiesta league until I wasn’t having fun in it. Lefthanders winning the majority of brackets, no scores posted online and sometimes 45 minutes to drive there got old. Many bowlers have thanked me for what I did in the T.M.s league which is one reason the promotions had a snowball effect. After several seasons, that snowman was built by T.M.s members who were grateful for what I offered them and showed it by the increased entries.
My 13 reasons for promoting the T.M.s league not only made the league better along with the other 12 reasons, but it also made it Tucson’s BEST LEAGUE while I was secretary. It attracted Tucson’s best bowlers which help make the T.M.s’ the fasting growing scratch league in Tucson. The league STILL HOLDS THE RECORD for Tucson’s BEST SWEEPER which grew from $1600 in its first season in 1997 to $8478 seven seasons later. 83 of the 96 members for 86% entered the sweeper which paid 300 cash spots. $2573 in total added money from sponsors and the league secretary. Another example showing that promoting the league worked. Without promoting the league, it might have had as many as 18 teams, not 24.
The members were offered many Stats Plus exclusive optional events that became an imprint for the T.M.s. Thanks to the GREAT SPONSORS of optional events, the T.M.s gave away more FREE money and had more free events than bowlers ever dreamed of. There was more free events offered than most leagues running optional events. It was a great feeling when the other officers of the league supports your ideas on how to make the league better and the bowlers let you know you were doing a great job.
Now I’ll show why promoting the league makes good business sense with my 13 reasons why every league should promote their league and what the T.M.s offered the bowlers and sponsors to become Tucson’s best league ever as all 13 reasons took place:
1. To keep your members coming back for more. Even just one member can cost your league a full team. He bowls another league and takes part of the team with him. If the remaining bowlers of the team feel that the league has nothing to offer them, they will find another league to bowl in. Competing in optional events are why some bowlers made the T.M.s their home. I went beyond just a few optionals, I offered FREE ENTRIES and FREE EVENTS to optional bowlers to keep the excitement level high and had suggestions from members on what I should offer next. I will cover promoting from within the league later.
2. To let your GREAT Sponsors know that the league appreciates their added money season after season. Use their name in the league’s name and paste their logo and standing sheets, recaps, league flyers, banners and league boards. GET THEIR NAME OUT THERE. That’s what they want for their buck and league should make sure it’s being done to keep them for the following seasons. The T.M.s had their own recaps printed with league sponsors’ logos and the league’s website address. The league board at the 5 centers, the weekly boards that traveled with us, the weekly newsletter and the standings sheet as well as any flyers the public would see our GREAT Sponsors logos on them. One of the few things that didn’t have logos was the league rules because of the number of rules, (didn’t have room).
3. To make your league better. Even with everything the league offered, I tried and offered ways for more bowlers in the league to bowl in optional events and be competitive. If there are enough seniors, offer senior events. Have over and under brackets and eliminators. The Traveling Masters had 3 divisions in the Eliminator, open, 205 & under and seniors. If you have an under division like we had, a bowler that booked 220 shouldn’t be allowed in a 205 & under at any time during the season. In another league, a 218 book average was allowed in 200 and under early in the season and was winning almost all the brackets because he bowled bad for a few weeks. Having that happen doesn’t make your league better. It could keep under bowlers from ever participating again. I also GUARANTEED under bowlers additional cash in the sweeper. If the league is fun to bowl, members will continue to return the next season. If they get a bad taste in their mouth, they won’t.
4. To make the league unique.
The T.M.s already had a unique format with Qualifying and Divisional action. Offering Stats Plus exclusives with FREE ENTRIES, FREE OPTIONALS, FREE TOURNAMENTS, a FREE SWEEPER, Travel brackets and eliminator, the first optional Doubles league in Tucson and two chances to cash in for 2 divisions in the eliminator is without a doubt making the league unique. $700 in FREE CASH went to bracket Champions during the sweeper and that started with just a $5 Tournament of Champions with added cash from the weekly brackets. I still have not heard of a league that offers a T. of C. during their sweeper.
5. To create excitement week after week. With everything that was offered, there was always something to look forward to every week. Missing just one week and you might have to bowl preliminary rounds for the $700 T. of C., as only 16 could bowl sweeper night. The most weeks that a bowler won a bracket during Qualifying gave him an automatic spot for sweeper night. The $10 Andy Clark’s Pro Shop bracket on sweeper night was seeded by the number of rounds you advanced in brackets. The top 16 were offered first chance and went down to the 22nd seed to fill the 16 spots. With 25 ways to promote from within the league, each week was different.
6. To get more members involved in optional events during the season, the under bowler division happened and later the seniors had their own division. They competed against their own division until the finals because of being a scratch league and as some of you know, anyone can beat anyone in a one game match. With different lane conditions at the five centers, the under bowlers won their share of the money offered. With more cash offered for under bowlers in Tucson’s best sweeper, over 85% of the league participated in the optional sweeper that was scratch for all bowlers who entered.
7. To give members a chance to make extra money. It’s always nice to get decent money back from the league before you bowl Nationals, but to double or triple your winnings during the sweeper made bowling the T.M.s even more enjoyable. There has been at least four bowlers who have won over $1000 just on the 4 games they bowled sweeper night. There were three four game events held on sweeper. The Air Excellence FREE ENTRY $700 T. Of C., the $10 Andy Clark’s Pro Shop bracket where Andy threw in a $50 gift certificate and a $5 Line-X Eliminator with $50 from Line-X. The $15 sweeper entry fee and winning these three events would have you taking home an additional $355 in your pocket for over 20 times your entry fee.
8. To get higher and lower averages bowling against their own average group. I‘ve already covered the under and senior divisions to increase participation in optionals. The under division could change from season to season depending on teams added and new bowlers. The under should be around the middle average (mean average) not league average. The T.M.s started with 203 and under and when I resigned, it went up to 205 and under. At 205, the league had 37 averaging over 205 and 59 under 206.
9. To have more participation in the sweeper. I helped make Tucson’s best sweeper by offering what I thought bowlers wanted and the bowlers responded in a big way. It grew at least $460 for seven years and jumped $2000 when it went from $4340 to $6340 in 2001 with 24 teams both years. It’s the bowlers that made organizing the sweeper fun when they spend more money than the previous year showing that they wanted a tournament type atmosphere. It was also the bowlers who made Tucson’s best sweeper by their participation in it. $150 was GUARANTEED 1st place in singles for most of the years. $100 for a $5 entry “Pick your Partner’ Doubles for $250 if you won both. Both had some added money with singles paying 1 in 4 and Doubles was paying 1 in 6 entries. Another Stats Plus exclusive was offered and help increase prize funds each year, the Prize fund reduction. Bowlers would fill out a sign-up slip with optionals available to sign-up for and they would fill in the blanks with number of brackets, doubles, eliminator and Andy Clark’s bracket. In the nine seasons, only one bowler failed to call when he was unable to bowl that night and was given some of his entry fees back. There were a few who spent over $200 hoping to have a big night and take home $1000. I won $866 in 2003.
10. To get word of mouth advertising from your members to bowlers in other leagues. Some bowlers talk to others about what they got back after the season was over and learned that with the added $9400 from our great sponsors, Vantage and Miller Lite that all bowlers were guaranteed 40% of the weekly fees back at the end of will the season. Some teams in the other scratch league were getting maybe 20% back. Then bowlers were talking about Tucson’s best sweeper and jumped back to the T.M.s. Word of mouth advertising is the best advertising as the bowler’s experience and expectations would hold a lot of weight with friends and fellow bowlers and grab their attention.
11. To attract new members and teams in an attempt to fill the center. More teams always means a bigger prize fund. AND A FULL CENTER CAN ATTRACT LEAGUE SPONSORS or another league sponsor. Bigger usually means better and the T.M.s with the promotions I did, had no problem getting teams and individuals to see what the league had to offer them. Having a league website can help a league grow because friends all over the U.S.A can now find out how well you’re doing.
12. To obtain sponsors for league, teams and optional events. 10 years ago was somewhat easy to ask sponsors for $30 to $40 to help the T.M.s because I had a promotional book that had some of the website pages in it and they knew that bowlers could bring them more business. And bowlers new to their business, could be return customers. I’m working on the sponsor’s page for the T.M.s and have some sponsors on there now. Thanks go out to all sponsors that helped Tucson’s best league in any way to not only help promote their business but to make the T.M.s a better league with their support. Sponsors and the league should work together so both can benefit and grow from the partnership.
13. And finally to let everyone know you’re willing to go the extra distance to get ALL OF THE ABOVE. With the Desert bowler, I was able to write articles about the league, the sweeper, the great sponsors and I offered tips on the mental game to help bowlers improve on that part of their game. I was able to fill a team that quit halfway in the season due to an article in Desert Bowler, the league’s website and flyers at all 5 Vantage centers stating it was a win-win situation for the team. They would be guaranteed 80% of the weekly fees back just by taking over and paying the remainder of the season. A week after the article, the spot was filled but without promoting the league, that team may not have joined and the league would have had a vacancy the remainder of the season. The power of promoting is prominent and possible.
These 13 reasons grabbed the attention of a lot of Tucson’s bowlers and made it enjoyable for the first seven seasons to show up every week. Promotions are a way to let others know you’re alive and doing well. If the secretary won’t promote the league, who will? Some of you say the bowlers? Some bowlers will if the league has good competition, offers more than other leagues with the number of brackets and number of bowlers getting in the Eliminator, having more optional events, has a good prize fund because of the number of teams and league sponsorship, has a unique format to make the Roll-Offs, has sponsors for optional events to increase interest, has a sweeper with added cash, the sweeper has more events than other leagues, bowling is fun due to the bowlers that are in the league and because of the FREE events and FREE entries. The T.M.s league offered members all of these. It’s why the league doubled in size four seasons later and now bowlers may never see another league like it. I can only hope that the majority of the leagues in the future will promote and offer events to make their league enjoyable to the masses.
IF you have questions, Contact Alan.
A balancing act of time and money is needed before you enter the promotion zone. All but one of the promotions will require some time but a little time now can get huge rewards in the future. Quite a few promotions will pull some money from your pocket, but it’s not about the present situation you have, it should be about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you shooting for. How much time you ask? Time doesn’t stand still and I definitely was not accused of standing around. Some can be just a few minutes at the computer. Others like a website that can take weeks, optional events that take several weeks and the weekly newsletter can take a half hour or more. The promotions didn’t use up all my extra time. I did spend some time talking to optional bowlers on ideas I had to keep events fresh and exciting for those that would enter. It’s all about making the league fun for the majority of the members. Of all my promotions, only two bombed, the pro fantasy league and the 30 frame league game. I believe that a lot of bowlers were at their maximum spending limit in the league when these events started. They were two attempts at offering something new and with all the rest of the optional events offered was just too much. One thing members of the T.M.s can’t say is that I only did what I had to do. Is it worth it? (It’s been said that businesses will advertise at least once, when they’re going out of business.) Trying to promote after several teams dropped last season may be too late to replace those teams. Promoting the league lets the members know that you will do more to keep the bowlers and make it better in the future if new bowlers join the league. A lot of promotions cost money and to spend let’s say $120 a year for the league’s website if the league grows even one or two teams per season it is worth the money. Two more teams work out to $140 or $20 more in my pocket. FREE entries and events can cost as little as $40 to over $100. If I only get 60% of my secretaries fee supporting a few optional events, I consider it a great season and the bowlers had a great time competing in events that few leagues would think of offering. If people running brackets would give just $10 into a sweeper bracket, over $300 would be added and first place could pay $100. It would attract more bowlers and make the league more exciting. I promote my leagues because I love the sport and it makes it better for all the members of the league, future members and the great sponsors the league will have. As the T.M.s league responded with huge number of entries from the bowlers, all bowlers would agree that it’s very well worth it.
There are two methods to promoting a bowling league and both should be used. First you need to promote within to get members involved and then promote outside the league to create interest for bowlers wanting to join the league. Also start small to think about the big picture. Think about the averages of the bowlers and what’s in it for them. When I was secretary of the Traveling Masters, I always did what was in the best interest of the league and with the response from most of the bowlers, it shows that is the only way to promote your league. There are some bowlers out there who may tell you different stories, but when you look at the final results you’ll come up with the same answer, that what happened was for the majority of the league and not just for a few bowlers. When a league has an $8478 sweeper prize fund, it shows that promoting from within the league and then outside the league proves that offering what the bowlers wanted and giving them a way to prepay was the biggest promotion of any league ever. I did some exclusive promotions and was the first in Tucson to offer some promotions. The Traveling Masters wasn’t Tucson’s best league because of offering promotions. The Traveling Masters was Tucson’s best league because promoting the league by all avenues possible got bowlers attention and that the majority of bowlers participated in optionals and filled the 24 lane Tucson Bowl. “You can only fail if you give up.” –Unknown. I never give up, I might not make the best decision, but I’m always willing to do what will make the league better.
Promoting from within means offering the members an event that hopefully they will not only be willing to participate in but be excited about. Cost is one way to promote events. Everybody thinks of $5 brackets and Eliminators. You could have $5 brackets for over bowlers and $3 for under bowlers. Think about it, just running brackets really doesn’t create excitement or for that matter promote the league. It is of course better than nothing. If all bracket winners earn a spot in your super bracket in week 15 of the season, you have added excitement. Give all bracket bowlers in week 19 of the season a FREE ENTRY into the mega bracket with each round a best 2 of 3 match and takes 4 to 5 weeks to find the winner and you’ve added even more excitement. NOW top all of that with (a Stats Plus Exclusive), a FREE ENTRY Tournament of Champions where all Champions compete for a $700 prize fund on sweeper night and now the league has excitement to the maximum. There was also two FREE ENTRIES in the sweeper Eliminator for the top Eliminator bowlers from the regular season to stimulate the members. With my list of 28 promotions, the designations are: T= time, $= money, 1st= 1st in Tucson to offer event and SP= a Stats Plus exclusive event started in the T.M.s.
1. T, SP. No other league has a full 8 1/2 by 11” weekly newsletter. It’s a recap of the best scores for last week, information on upcoming optional events, results of winning prize funds, reminders for when fees are due and had a mental section to help bowlers become better by gaining insight of their mental game. It took about a half hour on the computer.
2. T, $, SP. The weekly recap sheets I had printed for the league had the logos of league sponsors, listed the website address and had my phone number on it to give the T.M.s a more professional image. It took 2 hours to design the recap and $100 for the 3 part paper. There was no cost to print recaps.
3. T. Standings sheet with league sponsors’ logos on them. Putting Vantage Bowling Centers and Miller Lite logos took about 5 minutes and gave the T.M.s its own identity.
4. T. Keep statistics for the league. Even in handicapped leagues, bowlers can improve their game if the secretary passed out a stats sheet. Opens and strikes per game, single pin spare percentage and no-taps per game would show the bowlers strengths and what they need to work on. Time involved was 1 to 2 hours.
5. T, 1st. Offer an Optional league (Doubles, Singles, Trios) The T.M.s was the first to introduce an optional doubles league to Tucson and now several leagues have realized the value to its’ members to continue to offer another exciting league within a league with 100% prize fund as the regular league already pays lineage. With the league being on the computer, it took less than a half hour to punch in scores and a little time to submit prize funds for the league to vote on and the treasurer to pay out. This would be a great way to get a sponsor’s name out there if more than half of the league participates in it and would increase the prize fund.
6. T. Sell strike pot tickets instead of the regular 50/50 tickets. A bowler must strike to win the pot and if he misses, it gets carried over to the next pot or even next week where ticket sales would increase if 2 to 3 pots were to be drawn. A $25 pot with a bowler getting $9 for his 9 count would leave $16 to be carried over to the next pot. If two pots are carried over, there could be at least double the normal weekly sales and more money for the prize fund or sweeper fund. Only a small amount of time would be used and that would be to post amount of carry over on standings sheet, newsletter and weekly board.
7. $. Sell 50/50 tickets and reward members who will buy more tickets. If they buy $3, they would get $4 in tickets for a FREE $1. Buying $5 and they will receive $7 in tickets for a FREE $2. They do this in color pins no-tap events at the center to get bowlers to spend a few more dollars. To increase sales, have the center announce the amount bowlers could win. Very few leagues do this. When I sold strike pot tickets in the T.M.s and there was carryover, I’d let everyone know and bowlers who never bought tickets before, would spend $3 for a chance at $50. Bowlers will get excited when more money is up for grabs so the league should do its’ part and let them know about it. The cost would be the extra tickets being given out if the league buys tickets but with the cost being reimbursed, there is no cost.
8. T, SP. Run a FREE Super bracket to reward bracket winners with a guaranteed spot in the FREE entry T. of C. With all the Champions of brackets over most of the season, this bracket will give a bowler wining just two different weeks a way to the GUARANTEED cash spots on sweeper night, instead of bowling in the preliminaries to get in the 16 bowler FREE entry T. of C. sweeper bracket where all 16 are GUARANTEED to cash. Most of your time will be when you will seed the bowlers for the matchups and that could take 5 minutes.
9. T, SP. Start FREE Mega brackets to give past bracket participants another chance at no cost to them, a shot at becoming a champion and participate in the FREE entry T. of C. A few minutes to randomize bowlers and great when a non-champion wins to qualify for the T. of C.
10. T, $. Run a few FREE brackets. Reward bracket bowlers with extra money. Run brackets for bowlers who never get in brackets to show that they have a chance to cash and pay out $10 and $5 or $6 and $3. There are many ways to run free brackets and get new bowlers a chance to feel the rush after winning one. Do these after about a third of the season because if you hook new bowlers, they will want to have a chance to qualify for the T. of C. As you can see, very little time and money is needed.
11. T. Have a Non Champions bracket. With the added money in the $700 FREE ENTRY Tournament of Champions, bowlers without a bracket win would get excited to enter this for $5 and get their name added to the list of champions after winning. Just a few minutes is needed to randomize bowlers who haven’t won yet.
12. T, $, SP. Hold a League wide bracket. It gets every member involved and bowlers who never spend a dime on brackets are checking the board to see if they advanced to the next round. It could be one game matches or best 2 of 3 if you want to stretch it out over several weeks. The time is for inputting scores and winner could receive a free week.
13. T, $, SP. Give bowlers FREE entries into brackets and eliminators. Run free brackets for those that entered half of the weeks for another chance at the T. of C. Draw for a free entry into the brackets before league starts so bracket bowlers will feel like they’re getting their money’s worth with another opportunity to cash in. The same goes for the eliminator. Very little time and a small reward may get more member’s attention.
14. T, SP. Travel leagues could have Travel brackets & Travel eliminator. I ran 16 bowler brackets and a few eliminators over 4 weeks. These were for the die-hards and did fill up after I let the bracket bowlers get in both halves if 16 didn’t enter. A little time to promote at what center it would start at and punch in scores.
15. T, $, SP. Add excitement with the 2nd Chance in your Eliminators. I started the 2nd chance in my 6thseason to increase participation and it worked in a big way. About 60% of bracket bowlers spent the $5 in the Divisional Eliminator because the last game had everyone together and 1 of every 4 weeks won by an 205 and under average bowler. But now they miss a cut and can still win their entry back made a huge difference. The following season it was changed to opens and seniors with their own 2nd chance and the 205 and under bowlers now competing against their own division for their entry fee back. Now 85% were participating. The Eliminator my first season in the T.M.s was the only four game event in the sweeper and that started two other events with 4 games, the T. of C. and the $10 Andy Clark’s Pro Shop bracket.
16. T, SP. Offer a 16 bowler $10 sweeper bracket during the sweeper. That’s $160 in the prize fund without a sponsor. It was offered to the top 16 bracket bowlers of the season by division and gave bracket bowlers another reason to enter every week to qualify for this event. The bowlers were based on the number of rounds bowlers advanced. Again, not much time is used to post standings and seed bowlers for sweeper.
17. T, 1st. On sweeper night, bowlers may be interested in a Doubles bracket with random draw. Ran 2 to 3 brackets needing 16 bowlers to participate for a few sweepers. I was the first in Tucson to offer this unique event and another opportunity at cashing in the sweeper. Some time is needed to upload names into program.
18. T, $, SP. Start advertising your Tournament of Champions the first week of the new season. This is the King of all Stats Plus promotions and helped create Tucson’s best sweeper. At the time I resigned, it was the GREATEST promotion of the league that offered bracket champions a FREE ENTRY at a $700 prize fund. I have never heard of any other league to offer their members who participated in brackets and won at least once, their own tournament on sweeper night. All added money came from deducting $3 from every $5 bracket paying out $37 of the $40 for a full bracket and deducting $2 on brackets with 7 bowlers. For the $3 under brackets, $2 went into the T. of C. fund. The T. of C. went through some changes from the first year. The first time was just 8 champions paying $5 and they were seeded by the number of weeks won. The next year after 4 more team jumped on the bandwagon to enjoy the T.M.s competition, 16 champions qualified paying $5 making this a 4 game event. The third year was the start of FREE ENTRIES as the league now had 20 teams which meant more bowlers competing in brackets, so there was no need to charge an entry fee. The time involved is ranking bowlers by the number of weeks they won. I’ll post one of these pages on the league’s website. There is no out of pocket expense, it’s just the person running brackets put some of his earnings into the T. of C. fund for the champions to shoot for some great cash on sweeper night. The number of champions depends on the size of the league and the top four champions get seeded while the other spots go to champions competing the week before the sweeper in preliminary rounds to qualify for the remaining spots on sweeper night. The reason to go to four games is to allow members to finalize the sweeper payouts. Bowlers could now watch some serious matches with as much as $50 to $100 on the line for winning instead of the rest of the league looking over the shoulders of members getting final results and offering advice that they should be placed higher.
19. T, $, SP. Contest for free weeks. In the newsletter, ask trivia questions and draw out of the correct answers a free week for the winner. Usually 75% or better of the members will participate when free money is involved and only a little time is needed to find the answer. My way of free weeks now will be to find something on the website to get members involved in going online to find information they won’t see at other sites.
20. T, SP. Using Stats for free sweeper entry. I started with 3 bowlers and after two seasons, gave our four free sweeper entries into Tucson’s best sweeper. It got more members looking at more stats than most bowlers cared about. The stats show why the higher average members are the league’s top bowlers. The little time for a leader board got more involved in noticing my many stats.
21. T, 1st. High score building pot. With today’s equipment and conditions, this pot may never build up. It starts at 300 and drops 1 or 2 pins per week until a bowler shoots the score or better for that week. Bowlers not in half of the weeks can shoot for 50% of the pot to keep subs from bowling one week and taking home all the cash. Even for $1, I got a little less than 50% of the members interested. This pot was great 30 years ago when scores were much lower, but for some leagues it would work. Some league have a 300 pot for $5 and must shoot 300 and be in the pot to claim the money.
22. T, SP. Clean set building pot. This pot was hit almost every week when I first tried it so it didn’t build the pot to get more bowlers interested. The next season was a 1 open pot for 2 weeks which did build quite often because of the 5 centers the T.M.s bowled at. Checking the telescores doesn’t take up much time.
23. T, $. Have a drawing for Double Cross or Triple Cross. I did these drawings the opening week to spark interest in the many optional events and to have members read the newsletter for upcoming optional events. The winner would give his team a free week.
24. T, SP. Poker hand based on first ball counts. Obviously 5 strikes would be a good hand, but a straight beats it due to the difficultly of getting a 6, 7, 8, 9 and a strike. The poker hand pot was tried for a season and you guessed it, no straights were thrown. There can be 6 hands per week or use just the final 5 frames. Time involved is checking scores and standing sheet.
25. T, $, SP. 30 frame league game tournament. After bowling in the 40 Frame Game Tournament at Nationals, I decided to convert it to a league format. Even though this didn’t get the entries that I hoped for, I may try it on Fridays my second season as secretary since it is a handicapped league and may interest the members. The majority of the time involved is to design a score sheet based on the bowlers count each frame. Then some time to input scores and produce a standings sheet.
26, T. March Madness. Is there anything crazier than the three weeks of NCAA Basketball that starts in in March. Bowlers makes their picks on who will win each round and the Championship. I charged $1 to enter and could submit up to 3 brackets and I added $20 to interest more to enter. It was open to anyone that wanted to enter. 100% plus the $20 was paid out and the players could see their brackets online and find out which of their teams needed to win for them to win 1st place in the pool. Time involved is uploading all entries to the madness website for their computer to determine who still has a chance to take home the 1st place money.
27. T. Draw a Mystery Score. For only $1, all bowlers have a shot at throwing the score to win this building pot. BLS has a program to make sure a different score is used for the number of weeks you punch in. Share the wealth and have at least 2 to 3 bowlers claim the pot instead of just one winner. Announce the carryover each week so the league can get excited when over $100. Have the scores from 170 to 250 so that anybody can win the pot that’s sure to get the majority of the members involved in. Only 5 minutes are needed.
28. T. Vote for the All-Star team. For three seasons, the members voted for the league’s best four bowlers to get elected to the All-Star team. The last year bowlers voted, it was more a popularity vote and not based on the current season. With the stats I kept and passed out with the voting slips, it should have obvious who should make the team. So the next season, bowlers were ranked by their weekly position of high series. The time involved took about 15 minutes to design a ballot slip.
What a list I have and it doesn’t have regular brackets or an eliminator listed, partly due to most leagues already offer it to members. I wanted to show others what can be offered to make the league more entertaining. When I started to promote the T.M.s, I never would have dreamed the list would have been 28 methods to increase interest in a league. 25 of them were used in the T.M.s with 20 being used every season. It shows that I didn’t mind taking the time and spending some cash to promote the T.M.s because when you have the best league around, promotions helped keep it the best league because the majority of the bowlers participating in them enjoyed what I offered and attracted members when teams needed bowlers to fill their team.
Promoting outside the league primarily takes time and some will involve money. It will show other leagues that you’re willing to let the world know what the league has to offer after promoting from within. Remember that if your league is full and can’t expand this season, you may feel that promoting is a waste of time. Team(s) may drop due to circumstances and with all those promotions, new teams will have your league in mind when an opening occurs.
1. Get a domain name website. The T.M.s didn’t have a domain name website 10 years ago, but now it’s under $100 a year and a great way your league gets noticed. The software to put pages on are not that good as 10 years ago, but you will be able to make it look professional in almost no time. This will be a big help in getting sponsors for optional events. More exposure could lead to bigger sponsors and more league sponsors. Make sure you have a sponsor’s page and again thank the sponsors who are helping the league. If the sponsor doesn’t feel appreciated, it may be the last season of their sponsorship.
2. Put league standings online. Bowl.com and leaguesecretaries.com will publish standings sheet uploaded by the league secretaries programs. Bowlers moving into town can now search for leagues they might be interested in on these two sites. Bowlers that may retire in your city can look up leagues they will want to join.
3. Put a league board up at the center. The T.M.s had five league boards, one at each of the five centers we traveled to. A lot of bowlers noticed the boards because I went to the 5 centers every week and updated them and saw bowlers reading them. Some bowlers asked me questions about the league as I was updating them. It shows that putting your league where all can see makes good business sense.
4. Put together a weekly board. This board will serve both promoting inside and outside the league. It will have current league sponsor logos on the top of it, league standings, weekly newsletter, bracket and optional event results from last week, point leaders in optionals, statistics, high scores and upcoming tournaments. You should buy an easel so the board is at eye level so bowlers can read it.
5. Print up some business cards with the league on it. There are two reasons for this. The secretary is really the spokesperson for the league. Give cards to the team captains of each team. Give cards to bowlers who may want to bowl in your league. Give your card to potential sponsors of optional events when you first talk to them. Leave some at the front desk of the bowling center. The second reason is that business cards even printed by the computer will give the league an image of professionalism. I don’t know any secretary that has ever had them printed. I have impressed lot of people by giving my cards out. They think it’s only a bowling league, but if you really think about it, it’s also a business with elected officers.
6. Obtain sponsors for sweeper events. This will help secure more bowlers for an optional sweeper. More money makes more memories and excitement which turns into more entries. And with additional members participating, the overall sweeper prize fund increases. Some of the sponsors were businesses I went to on a regular basis. I gave them my business card and asked if they could help. I was only turned down by of couple of businesses. Most were not only surprised, but were flattered that I asked them.
7. Thank all sponsors, big or small with either a letter or a certificate of appreciation when they pay fees or hands the league a check. I did this all nine seasons and I noticed some sponsors put up the certificate at their place of business. The little things like this can go a loooooong way in the league’s partnership. The image the league presents to sponsors should be more businesslike than to potential bowlers. Remember that both sponsors and bowlers can make or break your league.
8. Write Articles for the bowling newspaper. There was not a month that went by without an article in the Desert Bowler for the T.M.s. The winter time is to promote scores shot by members and summarize the standings of each segment to get other bowlers attention that the league is willing to take the time. The summer time is to inform others that your league may be a better fit for their team and has more excitement by the number of optional events offered. It’s a great way to get exposure for the league. The article for the month may only take a half hour. Print the highlights from the last 4 weeks of newsletters.
9. Print flyers to let everyone know what the league has now and what may happen in the future if there is no league board at the center. I know that some will use it for scratch paper but there will be bowlers that notice the flyers when getting change or paying for money madness.
10. You don’t see many banners these days. If you have a big name league sponsor, they may be able to get a banner for the league. You’ll need to find out from the center if and where they will display it. The T.M.s at one time had a banner at all five centers that Miller Lite printed up for the league.
11. Have a shirt embroidered with the website on it so others will enquire about it.
Remember this article asked why promote. Now the question is, should I continue to promote? The answer is of course I will. Your job as secretary should be to retain and attract new bowlers.
Just for everyone’s info, after John resigned due to leaving for Las Vegas, a newly elected President in my 7thseason of the T.M.s didn’t have the same views I had. What I helped build over 6 seasons meant nothing to him. He didn’t support what the league had to offer and didn’t enter optional events. He listened to a few bowlers instead of the majority of the league and the league folded 5 seasons later and 2 ½ seasons after I had to resign due to working in Northern Arizona. He tried to change Tucson’s BEST SWEEPER to a high-low doubles event (in the season of the RECORD $8478) and the league wanted nothing to do with the high-low doubles. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. He changed strike pot sales where bowlers were no longer rewarded free tickets for spending a few more dollars which resulted in less money for the sweeper. He had bracket bowlers record their own score in brackets and eliminator or bowlers would receive a zero. This record your score led to another league meeting. The last two seasons being secretary of the T.M.s led to two bowlers submitting top heavy prize fund proposals that were always late by USBC standards. He wouldn’t let me submit a proposal. Those proposals were the beginning of the end as teams in the lower divisions were getting less prize fund back. With the added league sponsor money, teams were guaranteed getting back 40% until the top heavy prize funds that only guaranteed teams 25% to 30% back. In 2008, the league folded after losing 8 teams the previous season. The new secretary didn’t promote the league and the president changed the league where it wasn’t fun to bowl and I took off to work in Las Vegas. Years ago I did make one mistake due to listening to a friend, but after I went into the Army and changed my life, I will never go down that road again.
It has been said, “Footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down.”- Unknown. (Unless you are at your computer putting the best promotion in action. I do believe I have left footprints with the promotions I ran in the Traveling Masters because of the way the bowlers responded by the entries into optional events.) “Enjoy the little things in life; one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”- Unknown. (The T.M.s had a lot of little things which made it Tucson’s best league and most bowlers enjoyed it while I was still secretary of the league. It was the few who didn’t realize that the T.M.s was the best league and didn’t take long to destroy it. As long as I was an officer of the T.M.s, I always did was best for the league and the future of the league, not for just a few bowlers. When I resigned due to work, it was partly due to being tired of fighting the league president trying to change the T.M.s to the way he wants it. If we would have worked together, I might have stayed close to home working and the league might still be running today.)
Thanks for reading my novel. It took a month to write and gives new insight for the leagues with optional events. This shows that promoting a league can have a huge impact in a city of 1 million people and all league officers are on board to support you. If anyone has questions on promoting, I will be happy to assist you to make your league better. Contact me at Contact Alan. Thanks for being interested and good luck.
An Open letter to the Miller Lite Friday Men's league at Cactus Bowl.
Making your league better for bowlers, secretaries and sponsors By Alan “Mr. Stats” Brizee (Stats Plus) June 15, 2014
Now that I have been given another opportunity as League Secretary and Treasurer and in the position to promote the sport I love, I decided to write this letter to let others understand why I go the extra distance. Stats Plus is more than statistics. The plus is publicizing and promoting scores as well as providing prizes from my salary to make the league more interesting and appealing to all bowlers. I have on my website, a Mission Statement: To keep the league I'm secretary of, the most exciting league by publicizing and promoting bowling, by all avenues possible, for all the MEMBERS as well as all the SPONSORS of our league. This helps sponsors in coming back because if the league doesn't thank, support and publicize it sponsors, why would they want to keep putting extra cash in our pockets? I go the extra mile because bowling is on a slight down slide and I hope the little extras keep bowlers and sponsors coming back to see what else can be offered. Since I was elected Secretary/ Treasurer of the Traveling Masters, I have always done things in the best interest of the league. I always felt my job was to promote the league to create excitement and make it better.
I was secretary of the Traveling Masters, a scratch league for 9 1/3 seasons before taking a job in northern Arizona where traveling between the job and bowling wouldn’t work out. The league grew from 12 to 24 teams four seasons later. The sweeper went from $1600 to over $8400 seven season later. Almost everything in this article is something that I have tried at one time or another with most being successful. It could work for handicap leagues as the principles are the same. To let most of you know what you already know, the person responsible uses their time to help the league. I have spent hours designing flyers, asking bowlers opinions on new optional events that I will try and getting forms ready to be printed. Just one more thing that NEEDS to happen, the secretary promoting the league and the person running optional events needs the support of the league as well as the league officers. The league needs to work together to make their league better for the current members, as well as attracting new or returning members for upcoming seasons.
And now for the answers to two important questions. How does the league keep bowlers coming back for more? How does the league attract new bowlers? What the league offers now and what the league can offer in the future are up to the members that can change how the league is viewed by everyone. Obviously scratch and handicap leagues are different but the same. Most handicap leagues will have bowlers over 200 and some under 200. Scratch leagues will have over 210 and under 210. Both sides of the leagues mean average needs to be looked at. Mean average is not the average of all averages bowling, it is halfway between the highest and lowest average bowler. Mean average for scratch leagues might be 205, so the under events could be 205 and under. Some higher average bowlers will not spend extra money for brackets, eliminators and 50/50 ticket sales. Entry fees for brackets can attract bowlers. Some don’t have a lot of extra money for optional events. If running $3 brackets, a bowler can get in two for $6 with 2 shots at cashing for just $1 more as opposed to one $5 bracket. Bowlers have shot 279 and been bounced because of the onslaught of all the 300’s thrown today. Cactus Bowl offered reverse brackets so a low first game could make you money. 2nd chance brackets are offered at nationals and could be offered to a big league as well. Brackets should also be computer generated so bowlers will not face the same bowler the opening game. This creates fairness for those getting in two or three brackets each week. Handicap leagues can offer scratch and handicap brackets and eliminators. If enough seniors, have 50 & over brackets and eliminators. Brackets and eliminators can be done over weeks using match play with winning 2 of the 3 games to advance, with everyone in the league for a single night or rounds bowled at different centers. I have had and will be having a 2nd chance for the eliminator where bowler can earn their entry back after missing a cut. Now that I have covered different formats for brackets and eliminators, I will go into two areas that could make a HUGE difference in your league, the regular season and sweeper. Both will require a little extra time and are worth it.
If your league is better because of the extra work you put into it, it is possible that your league could grow slowly and a few seasons later, fill the center you bowl at.
During the long regular season, some suggestions are quick and easy while some planning, time and designing entry forms. The following has over 10 ideas to make your league better. A. To promote the league without much work, put the league sponsor(s) logo on the standings sheet, recaps, flyers and league board. I have not seen too many leagues do this. The league board will have league sponsors and their logos on it, standings, newsletter, optional events, statistics, league information and the league’s website address on it. Miller Lite appreciates their logo being out there so bowlers and spectators will see it to help promote their product. I already let Miller Lite know I was the new secretary and told them about the league’s website and they appreciated their logos on the site and sent me several designs and logos to use this season. You can put logo(s) on recaps as I will be doing this season as I did in the past. Instead of buying preprinted recaps, design your own and print them on 3 part paper, using 4 teams on one sheet. B. Put your league on a flyer during the summer to help create interest in the league. Let new bowlers know why they should bowl in your league. You should have any League sponsorship money listed and all league sponsors to promote the extra money added to the prize fund. The logos and their name on flyers will help secure continued sponsorship for seasons to come. C. I write articles to Desert Bowler every month with high scores and a sponsor’s corner thanking all the sponsors for helping the league out. If your bowling newspaper will let you do it, it will add to the excitement the league offers. D. I write a weekly newsletter promoting scores, sponsors, optional events, team standings, upcoming tournaments, city & state tournament deadlines, league fee deadlines and write a short article on the mental side of sports. I have only seen one other secretary do a week’s review in my 40 years of bowling. I have most seasons gave every bowler in the league a write up and keep a list of when they appeared. Most bowlers like the fact that if they shoot the scores, they get their name bolded and caps for article heading. A newsletter can take a half hour to write and most bowlers appreciate the extra time. E. Most leagues have a normal split season. Two segments or halves, three segments or thirds or bowl four quarters where the 4 winners make up the 4 Roll-Off teams. The scratch Traveling Masters had the most unique format designed by Steve Hiscox and Paul Colwell. All teams bowl each team once during qualifying and then split into divisions based on where your team finished in qualifying. Divisions should be at least six teams. ‘A’ division which had the top teams from qualifying would pay better than ‘B’ division and even better than ‘C’ and ‘D’ divisions. Qualifying could be divided into 2 to 3 conferences based on entering averages with divisions being top teams from each conference. The scratch leagues are better suited for a ‘divisions’ type format. Randy Corn in his handicapped league had 4 eight team conferences based on the number each team drew and I think, each conference winner plus 2 wild card teams were in the Roll-Offs. Another idea is have a playoff of 4 quarter winners of the 4 conferences bowl an extra week where each conference would have the 4 teams bowl the 1st game and cut to 2 teams. Those two teams would then have a 2 game totals to get into the league Championship Roll-Offs. So the league could have an unique format that would make your league different and fun to bowl. F.Some leagues have 50/50 pots where half of sales goes into the prize fund and the other half back to the bowlers. I started a strike pot where there would be$25 pots with $50 being the maximum and remaining money went into sweeper fund. Average sales the first season per week were $40, so $495 was added to a sweeper where after even 25% of the bowlers participated in the previous season to over 75%. The second season in week 32, we had almost $300 carried over and league officers decided to raise pots to $100. G. BLS, a bowling league program has a mystery score app and won’t duplicate scores. Have bowlers pay $1 each week and have number generated after everyone is done with 2nd game. I will have 170 to 250 as acceptable scores which should attract almost everyone. Only 2 bowlers average under 170. Bowlers need to feel like they can shoot a score if they are to keep paying each week. You should have more than just long drawn out pot. Have at least 2 winners or one per third. As the pot builds, more bowlers will spend a buck for a shot at over $100. H. A Stats Plus exclusive for this is for bowlers that participate in any optional event. Every week they enter any optional, they will be assigned a number and with BLS, the program picks a number and one winner per third will win a FREE ENTRY into the league’s sweeper. I. Another Stats Plus exclusive, I have had and always will have the Top 20 individuals and Top 8 teams scores posted on the league board. The top 20 is not just high game, but high 1st, high 2nd and high 3rd game as well as series. This gives most bowlers and teams a chance to make the board and see their name for more than maybe one or two weeks. I’ll be doing both scratch and handicap. J. Another Stats Plus exclusive is statistics for the regular members of the league. I have tele scores printed and do statistics for the members of the league. Opens and strikes per game tell me about a bowler more than just their average. Also clean games, four baggers, no taps per game, single pin spare percentage and no-tap 300’s will be kept. I had a lot more stats for the scratch league. K. I ran a high game pot for $1 starting at 300 and dropping 2 pins per week until hit. A clean set pot could be hit every week in a scratch league, so I did a clean 2 weeks in a row pot that the bowler didn’t like as much. L. Since the scratch league traveled to 5 different centers, we couldn’t enter their “Money Madness”. That’s the correct 10 strikes in 3 games to win the pot. So I created the league’s own “Bowling for Bucks” with 12 strikes, where bowlers had 3 chances of cashing. They were the correct strikes the first two games, having 11 of the 12 strikes needed and all 12 correct. If the pot was large enough, bowlers just missing all 12 would get a percentage for more cash in their pocket. M. Usually when a drops in the middle of the season, it will remain vacant to rest of the season. I was able to fill a team that quit using the above incentives. Each of the 5 centers had a 3 foot by 4 foot board that had standings, stats, the weekly newsletter, center highs and a notice that the league was looking for a replacement team. So promoting the league and getting a new team about 4 weeks later was worth it. N. If the league has 16 teams and the league wants to make a statement, go to a trophy company and work a deal where you buy the sponsor’s Championship trophy and get reduced or even free plaques for the members of the team winning the Roll-Offs. I was able to obtain 4 free plaques because of going to different companies and finding one that wanted our business each and every year. Only the sponsor’s trophy was part of the prize fund. I surprised the whole league when I presented the Champions with individual plaques that only the league president knew. O. Another first in Tucson for Stats Plus, run optional leagues within the league. Offer singles, doubles or trios league for $5. There is no lineage since the regular league is paying it. 100% payback to members getting in. The optional doubles league had 50% of the league participate. You will need rules separate from league rules. It doesn’t take much time to punch in scores and possibly the program may be able to handle both leagues. If the Friday league grows, I will look into it. A league up in Phoenix offered singles and trios with their 5 man league. P. A lot of teams are now using cards to make their league better. There are many different ways to have the best 5 cards at the end of the game. Adding jokers makes for higher hands and possibly the higher averages winning more hands. One card for any mark. If all 5 members did not open during the game two cards will be left in the deck. My team in Vegas did this and two pair won some hands (no jokers). Two cards for a strike and one for a spare, keeping all cards. You could also keep best 7 after drawing. The card game really makes the league fun and even more fun after you win. Q. During March, I had a March Madness bracket contest where I threw in $20 and had bowlers fill brackets and paid $50 for the best bracket. There are bracket apps out there that can tell players who is leading and what must happen for them to win after the first weekend. (This works only for leagues Monday thru Wednesday.) I paid back 100% of entry fees, added $20 and paid 1 of every 5 that entered. Note: I didn’t do March Madness when the Wildcats went all the way. R. Design and print business cards for the league. Have the League’s name, day and time the league starts, secretary’s phone number, league’s website, league sponsors and brief statement about the league. Since the league has four league sponsors, I put ‘One of Tucson’s best sponsored league with over $3000 added and biggest websites of any league in Tucson’. S. And finally, the best suggestion and most time consuming is getting the league online with its very own website. I have 12 pages online now and will grow in the future. The website will have some old stuff on it as well as pages that will not be passed out every week such as the stats sheet. The Traveling Masters had rosters online over the summer and bowlers interested in bowling the upcoming season. Two bowlers were picked up being listed on the website as interested in bowling. I’m sure that not many leagues have filled rosters from a website. Just shows you that promoting your league BY ALL AVENUES possible makes the league as a whole better all around.
And now after all that if that wasn’t enough, the question that remains is, why don’t more bowlers bowl an optional sweeper? Some will bowl only if there is enough money in it, others will bowl regardless of the money and maybe to be part of their team. Some high average bowlers won’t bowl a handicap singles sweeper, one bad game and no money. The following ideas WILL make a difference in your league. A. A Stats Plus exclusive, offer Prize Fund reductions. I pass out a sweeper entry with 6 weeks left to bowl. Bowlers then can write in amount of brackets, eliminator, ‘Pick your Partner’ Doubles and Sponsored brackets. The total amount entered will be deducted from the bowler’s winnings. It’s not as easy on the treasurer, but bowlers will spend a little more than if they had to pay before getting their winnings. I had close to 10 bowlers spending over $150 in the sweeper and helped get 95% participation. If you offer what they want at a reasonable price and won’t have to pay up front, bowlers will participate, even in a handicap league. B. Brackets are now everywhere. City and state tournaments have them. For your league to have some success, they should be offered. Different entry fees could even be offered. Different divisions MUST be offered to create interest from all bowlers. You should limit the number of brackets for each division and the limit could be different. This keeps it fair for the majority of the league bowlers. C. More money usually means more entries. Put 50/50 sales into the sweeper fund, it worked my scratch league that paid $5 more a week than handicap leagues, so our scratch league had more prize money than handicap leagues and the scratch league had $9200 in league sponsor’s money so it created a win-win situation for the scratch league. D. Offer strike pots or double cross pots. I’m one of the few secretaries that puts back into the league. It creates excitement and offers all bowlers something for just participating. Very few leagues do this. E. Another Stats Plus exclusive,offering FREE ENTRIES to bowlers participating in brackets and eliminator. You could reward them with entering 2/3rds the season, by wins or on a point system. Free entries offers incentives to enter every week which should help in generating more entries every week. It also creates excitement when bowlers start climbing spots getting close to winning one of those free entries. If only a few free entries are offered, paid entries will generate a decent prize fund depending on the cash ratio. F. The person running brackets making money could reinvest some of the money made and increase the prize fund with 25% of what they deducted. If they made $10 each week and gave back $2.50 each week, at 30 weeks there would be $75 in prizes to shoot for. G. And one of the best Stats Plus exclusives, only the Champions got to bowl in a FREE ENTRY $500 Tournaments of Champions on sweeper night in the Traveling Masters. All you had to do was win just 1 bracket during the season. The T of C had two sponsors over the 9 years. The first sponsor put $50 into the prize fund. Our last sponsor added $300, I added $100 and the person running brackets put up $100. We always had more than 16 champions so the seedings were based on number of wins then the number of finals a bowler made. The week before sweeper was the play in matches where winners advanced to a 4 game tournament. I was the first to have 4 game events in a sweeper and the reason was that all the bowlers would be standing around the people getting the final results of the sweeper ready so they could pay the 25% that cashed. Instead of bothering those getting scores together, they could watch a match where the winner takes home an extra $100. Soon there was three events that had four games, a regular 16 bowler $10 bracket sponsored by Andy Clark’s Pro Shop and the $5 Eliminator that also had a sponsor. Some years, a bowler was in all three finals and I was one of them, a great way to finish the season. H. To make the sweeper more enjoyable (or not), is to offer door prizes. During the $8400 sweeper, I spent a lot of hours taking to business owners to secure gift cards, gift certificates and prizes. About 25% of the sweeper bowlers would be drawn and after their ticket was called, they would pick their prize based on what was left. 19 prizes for over 80 bowlers. ONLY 3 door prize winners said thank you after all the work to make this sweeper the best ever. I can only guess that some didn’t think about what it took to create the door prizes, and I know that some will never say thanks. The last person drawn won a book on the mental side of sports. His comment was, ’Is this all there is?’. This bowler could improve his mental game if he would read the book, because his mental game could be improved. That is why the ‘or not’ was added after more enjoyable. I had gift certificates from3 pro shops, restaurants and stores. Only the bowler responses will determine if the extra work was worth it. I already have 1 door prize for the upcoming season. I. Something new while writing this article, is having a poker hand based on your first counts. First 5 frames and 2nd 5 frames. Five of a kind being the best, 5 strikes to open a game beats strikes in 6th thru 10thframe. First game beats 2nd game as well, since it was done first. Next best hand is a straight, strike, 9, 8, 7, 6. A little luck is needed for a straight. Then 4 of a kind, full house and 3 of a kind. I’ll reward a free entry to the winner. J. A lot of sweepers I hear about, have a High-Low Doubles and maybe with singles. This actually limits entries. If the sweeper is optional, there could be a bowler doubling his score. I use a Pick your Partner Doubles. It’s a singles event that uses six games to determine the cashers. The bowlers pick who they think will help them the most to cash. The top bowlers that participate in the sweeper should be picked the most and have been. You should limit entries that bowlers participate in so he is not the only casher in the event. One sweeper, a bowler had eight partners and took the six of the top 10 cash spots. One handicapped league offered doubles and he collected 90% of the envelopes by shooting high 6 and getting a lot of handicap. Limiting entries keeps it fair for majority of the bowlers.
Now my novel is almost done. Secretaries promoting their league and persons running brackets can make their league more exciting and fun. The league members would help promote the league among other bowlers after talking to others about what the league offers. There are over 25 suggestions for improving your league. I can only hope that most leagues try to create a little more excitement for their bowlers and help attract new members and have the members support it. Promotions work better when there are those around who support what is being offered.
I can say that bowling has been pretty good to me and I don’t mind giving some back if it helps keep bowling fun. When it stops being fun is when its time to get off the ride. I can hope you learned something from this article and the league you’re in goes down new avenues where bowling continues to be fun. The final word is to enjoy it while you can and is the main reason why I wrote this, where others get ideas for keeping bowling fun and making changes for the better. Any questions, Contact Alan.
Pg 31: 7/3/20