It won’t be long before fall-winter league officers will be notifying team captains and members about upcoming organizational meetings. But will most leagues actually be ready for the start of the 2011-12 season?:
When those preseason meetings take place, it will be time to act in order to avoid problems later. It takes a lot less effort to run a good league than it does to run a bad one, but a good and adequate set of league rules is a must.
It’s a fact that many leagues minimize the importance of rules, claiming that theirs is a “fun” league, while in other cases, members imply that the rules are “understood.” It’s a wonder how some leagues operate at all with the totally inadequate set of rules they adopt.
All too often, a league is well into its schedule before the rules are questioned, but at that point, it’s most often too late to make a change. In leagues certified by the United States Bowling Congress, rules in effect at the start of the season can only be changed or modified by unanimous written consent of every team captain.
However, because disputes usually affect one or more teams, it is rare when unanimous consent of captains can be obtained. The only option remaining is to make the change by a majority vote at its organizational meeting the following season, but it’s too late to make any changes that would alleviate existing problems.
League officers should stress the importance of the organizational meeting, at the same time realizing that members are anxious to bowl and have little patience with rules debates — at least, until a problem arises affecting the bowler or his or her team. Nevertheless, the entire foundation of the league is on the line at the preseason meeting, and if potential “trouble areas” are not covered at that time, it may indeed lead to problems later.
Following is a checklist of suggested topics to be resolved at the all-important organizational meeting:
* Problem teams: A full list of teams intending to bowl in the league should be completed, plus there must be arrangements to help “fill” teams that are having trouble filling their rosters. It’s not an ideal situation when one or more teams enter the season having to use a “vacancy” score.
* Fee shortages: Adopt a policy that is as strict as possible regarding fee arrearages. There is no substitute for the best policy of all: Everyone pays every week, period. However, should the league not opt for that provision, it should take pains not to make the fee-shortage allowances too liberal. But whatever policy the league adopts, be determined to stick with it, making exceptions only in rare instances and only with approval of the league board of directors.
* Handling league funds: Make certain that, whether the league account is handled by a commercial bank or an in-center banking service, the president verifies the account monthly. Too many leagues are careless with their money, and end-of-the-year shortages happen far too often.
* League balance: Is your league competitive? If the division between the strong teams and the weak teams seems too great, make an effort to beef up the low-average teams, if possible. Also, you might consider raising the handicap percentage, especially if it is as low as 80 percent. Another consideration, if not already in place, would be a split season, in which the schedule is divided in half, or perhaps into three or more segments. But if a split season is approved, make sure that specific playoff rules are adopted to avoid confusion and potential end-of-season conflict.
* Entering averages: Encourage your league to use previous season’s averages for handicapping purposes at the start of the season for at least the first 12 games. This discourages “throwing off” the first week or two to avoid a reduced handicap in subsequent weeks.
At any rate, whether your league is or isn’t USBC-certified, take care to ensure that your league rules measure up, and your league is much more likely to enjoy “smooth sailing.”
For complete suggestions on how to conduct a league, see the USBC League Operations Handbook by clicking here and see a short-form “checklist” on Page 3.
WINTER LEAGUE SIGNUPS: Each area center has a Web site that offers information about signing up for fall-winter leagues. For league sign-up and registration forms, click below on the center where you might want to bowl (or call the listed phone numbers).
Sarasota Lanes (941) 955-7629
AMF Bradenton (941) 755-8838
AMF Gulf Gate (941) 921-4447
AMF Venice (941) 484-0666
Englewood Bowl (941) 474-5265
Bowland Port Charlotte (941) 625-4794
Treasure Lanes (941) 625-3930