The PBA Returns with 5 Back-to-Back Action-Packed Days of LIVE Competition Starting on Saturday

As I referenced in my last post Professional Bowling is returning to the airwaves with some creative events for the viewing public during these times that prohibit fans.

Here is what’s happening this weekend, July 18-19 as posted on the website.

New York, NY – The Professional Bowlers Association returns to the lanes this weekend as the world’s best bowlers compete in two special events live from Bowlero Jupiter in Jupiter, FL. – the 2020 PBA Tour Finals on CBS Sports Network and the six-part PBA King of the Lanes series on Fox Sports’ FS1.

First up is the PBA Tour Finals, where eight of the tour’s top performers, based on competition points earned over a two-year-span, will take to the lanes on July 18 and July 19 to compete for a Go Bowling PBA Tour national title, the first since March.

All eyes will be on defending champion E.J. Tackett, as he looks to take home his first title of the 2020 season. Points leader Jason Belmonte will be missing as he’s unable to participate due to COVID-19 travel restrictions from Australia. In his place will be Hall of Famer Norm Duke, as the 9th place finisher in points. Anthony Simonsen, Bill O’Neill, Sean Rash, Jakob Butturff, Kris Prather, and Kyle Troup are also set to compete.

CBS Sports Network will present nine total hours of coverage over the weekend. Starting with two back-to-back live shows on Saturday, July 18 starting at 12 PM ET, followed by five consecutive hours of coverage on Sunday, July 19 beginning at 12 PM ET. International fans can watch live on

Saturday, July 18

  • 12 PM ET – Qualifying Group 1: Simonsen, Rash, Butturff, Duke
  • 2 PM ET – Qualifying Group 2: Tackett, O’Neill, Prather, Troup

Sunday, July 19

  • 12 PM ET – Stepladder Finals Group 1
  • 2PM ET – Stepladder Finals Group 2
  • 4 PM ET – Championship Match

For more information on upcoming events click the PBA news page here.

Professional Bowling Is Back!

Last month I uploaded a post on how bowling can come back from this Covid-imposed shutdown by replicating a promotion from the past and updating it for toady’s times. In that previous post I referenced that my inspiration for reviving a past promotion came from the announcement of last month’s Champions For Charity golf match between Tiger Woods/Peyton Manning and Phil Mickelson/Tom Brady, which was a huge ratings success for several networks and corporate sponsors.

When I corresponded with PBA Commissioner Tom Clark it seems that he had similar ideas and so I’m happy to report that PBA Bowling action will be back starting June 6th with some special events for the fans which will be televised on various FOX Sports channels.

Here is the current schedule:

PBA Strike Derby
Where: Bowlero Jupiter, FL
When: Saturday, June 6, 7-9 pm ET

PBA Summer Clash
Where: Bowlero Jupiter, FL
When: Saturday, June 13, 6-8 pm ET

PBA King of the Lanes
Where: Bowlero Jupiter, FL
When: July, dates and times TBA

For more detailed information on these events and the Professional Bowlers Association access the full press release here.

This is great to see. In the words of my grandfather Andy Varipapa, “Keep ‘em Rolling!”

How to Bring Back Bowling Post-Covid? Replicate a Successful Event from The Depression

Upgrade a Promotion From the 1930’s Using Today’s Media & Technology Platforms

People are starved for sporting events, having been deprived of them for the past two months. They will watch just about anything, even a curling tournament (no offense to curling, I’ve watched them in the past). Once the major sporting leagues realized that spectators would not be coming back anytime soon due to the continued spread of the virus they started thinking of ways to provide live content for television and streaming services that did not include a live audience.

We are just at the beginning of this new phase and some major organizations have already set schedules. NASCAR will run seven major races in May without fans in attendance which will attract viewers hungry for a live event. But by far the event that should draw the most viewers is the recently announced charity golf match between Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Airing on multiple networks at 3:00PM ET on Sunday, May 24 it is sure to be a ratings winner as it will draw both golf and NFL fans as well as those who just want to see live sports again. It is no surprise that once it was announced major advertisers signed on almost immediately.

Bowling’s Successful Depression-era Promotion

While the underlying causes are different the outcome of the 1930’s depression is essentially the same as today’s pandemic – a severe economic downturn. And like most of the business sectors back then bowling had to endure its share of hardship. But in 1932 the newly formed Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) launched one of the greatest promotions during the depths of the depression. They brought together a group of the current star bowlers and had them tour the country performing exhibitions and giving free lessons. The tour generated lavish coverage in newspapers and the bowlers participated in frequent radio interviews.

Today’s social distancing requirements will not allow a group of pros to tour the nation and perform in front of large audiences. But today we can take advantage of television and the internet to reach a much larger audience than they could in the 1930’s. And a great way to do that would be to take a cue from the PGA and stage a charity bowling match between top PBA pros and sports personalities…and there are some good sportspersons out there to choose from. Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox would be a top contender as he shot a 300 while competing in the World Series of Bowling back in 2017. And C.J. Anderson of the Denver Broncos has already competed in several PBA Regional tournaments.

A Showcase for Other Formats

While the matches will be entertaining there are other events that the spectators could enjoy. This would be the perfect opportunity to bring back Jackpot Bowling, a very popular show that aired on NBC from 1959-1961. Two players competed to bowl up to nine strikes. After each bowler took nine turns, the player who bowled the most strikes won $1,000. Any player who rolled six strikes in a row won a jackpot which, in the earlier seasons, started at $5,000 and increased $1,000 each week it was not won. The bowlers were all members of the PBA and a few won big jackpots.

Another option would be to revise a show that aired on CBS in the early 1970’s call Pinpoint. Again, it was a match between two PBA bowlers that tested their accuracy. The object was to knock down 10 pins in the 1st frame (strike or spare), 9 pins in the 2nd frame, 8 pins in the 3rd frame, etc. Successfully completing each frame scored 30 points and completing all 10 frames scored a 300. This format could also include other sports personalities.

As a finishing touch you could also include a segment on trick shots. During the televised PBA League Championships in 2015 each show featured a pro performing a trick shot as well as footage of Andy Varipapa doing his trick shots. The fans were asked to vote for their favorite trick shot over the four weeks of telecasts and generated thousands of votes.

A Showcase for Centers

Unlike what they did in the 1930’s the current situation prevents sending bowlers around the country. But we can take advantage of television and the internet to feature bowlers and/or celebrities around the country where they live. PBA Regional Directors can provide a quick roster of available bowlers who live near accessible centers. These telecasts could also serve as a showcase for many centers to display to a national audience the numerous transformations and upgrades they have made to attract potential bowlers. Each issue of Bowlers Journal always seems to include some very eye-catching photos.

Every business sector and organization is trying to figure out how to navigate their ship in this pandemic environment. But it’s equally important to set yourself up for success in whatever the “new normal” for your business will be when that time comes. For bowling, producing some televised competition and entertainment may be a good start down the path to a post-Covid world.

What will be the “New Normal” for Gatherings in a Post-Covid Environment?

While concerts and conferences may not happen for awhile how will movie theaters, bars/restaurants, and bowling centers get patrons back in the doors?

While normal commerce is in something resembling suspended animation at this time the business world will (hopefully) return at some point in the not too distant future. What it will be like is anyone’s guess although it is fair to say that it will be a new normal for an undetermined period of time. How businesses respond to the new environment will determine how quickly they can return to profitability.

When we all get back to our lives there will still be a desire to practice some modified form of social distancing, a new way of life we never knew existed until a month ago but will stay with us for some time. Airlines – eager to get people back up in the air – may start removing the middle seat to create some space as well as lower the capacity. Movie theaters may remove every other seat to create space; the back support can stay in place for the day when the seats can be replaced. And restaurants can remove half the tables so patrons are further apart, and perhaps build more booths as that creates more separation between parties.

I certainly want to get back to visiting restaurants, movie theaters, and travelling again. But given my family history I am very concerned about how the bowling industry will come back. There aren’t as many centers left as the business landscape has changed dramatically since the glory days of the 1960’s. A colleague of mine recently sent me a list of centers dated 1963 in my old stomping grounds, Nassau County in New York. Back then there were 48 centers in the county; today there are just 10.

Being in business and marketing all these years I have not been blind to the many changes to the game as full-service entertainment is what the current market is looking for, leading to the creation of such establishments as Pinstripes, Lucky Strike, Splitsville, and Main Event. But as we come out of this pandemic both these new venues as well as traditional centers will be dealing with the same challenge – how to bring people back in while adhering to some form of desired social distancing. In the initial stages both leagues and open play may need to operate differently, perhaps with an open pair between each set of league teams and an open lane next to each open play group. Professional tournaments may have to follow the same format for some time as well.

Those are just the initial thoughts that I’ve had and I’ll probably think of more over time. But I welcome more ideas from all the business and marketing talent out there as I want to do all that I can to help the game that has meant so much to my family since the 1920’s when my grandfather first gained national attention. Please post your comments/feedback here or contact me directly at


Andy Varipapa II