Volume 12, Issue 6 June 2009
Threatening the Integrity
Integrity is defined by Merriam Webster as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; an unimpaired condition; the quality or state of being complete and undivided. A firm adherence to a code; one might call that morals, values, or ethics. Integrity implies trustworthiness, honesty, and honor to a degree that a person is incapable of being false to a responsibility. It suggests a high regard for standards towards a particular area whether it be one’s profession, one’s family, or one’s position on a subject. It indicates a refusal to lie or deceive in any manner. It indicates one’s commitment to doing what is right and fair.
In bowling, as in many sports, there are threats to integrity. Unfortunately, in bowling, this threat of integrity is very prevalent and oftentimes blatant. It is also difficult to prove and even more difficult to deter and punish.
Since many bowling leagues use a handicapping system of some sort to “level out” the playing field, many bowlers can simply manipulate the system to their advantage. One could simply bowl at a lower scoring pace than their ability to accumulate more handicap and then bowl at their ability during key matches to secure wins with the extra handicap. One could also bowl less than average in one league in order to maintain a lower average for handicap tournaments or average capped, big money leagues. By maintaining a lower average, said bowler would have higher handicap for tournaments allowing them essentially “extra pins” for the tournament. It would also allow the bowler a lower average to aid in fitting teams into leagues with average caps.
This isn’t something new and we all know or have at least heard the term “sandbagging”. Sandbagging and those who would participate in this practice threaten the honor and integrity of the sport of bowling. Essentially, by “throwing off” to lower their average, they make a mockery of the sport as well as the players; athletes; who take it seriously.
You may be thinking there is nothing you can do. That could not be farther from the truth. As a participant in this sport, you have a voice. Talk to your center, your local associations and even the USBC. Leagues can vote to disallow bowlers to participate; center managers can ban bowlers. Take an active roll and stand up for our sport. Sandbagging is a serious offense. Not only does it threaten the integrity and honor of our sport, it frustrates honest, committed bowlers and pushes them away from our sport which ultimately causes a decrease in participation that affects us all.