Inside Events: United States Bowling Congress
21 Apr, 2015By: Chad Murphy
An Interview with Chad Murphy, Executive Director
The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) is the national governing body of bowling as recognized by the USOC. USBC is a membership organization that provides standardized rules, regulations and benefits to make bowling fair and fun for everyone. The USBC is headquartered in Arlington, Texas.
Sports Destination Management: Bowling is a great sport. What are the participation numbers?
Chad Murphy: We have statistics showing almost 69 million people went bowling last year. That’s just a measurement of how many folks went at least once.
SDM: What is the fastest-growing demographic in the sport?
Murphy: We see a lot of growth in the youth area. The National Federation of State High School Associations reported 54,000 kids competing at the varsity level. Our collegiate program is also at an all-time high. USBC opened up new divisions for younger athletes, and they really responded. Bowlin's Smart program also generates $6 million in scholarships for bowlers through its tournaments.
SDM: What makes bowling so popular among younger athletes?
Murphy: Several things attract kids to the sport. It’s non-traditional – you don’t have to be the best or most high-caliber athlete to be a great bowler – you don’t have to be the quickest or throw the ball the hardest. The skills for it are built through repetition – your swing tempo, for example. Bowling is an activity that turns into a sport that all shapes and sizes can play. Plus, it’s fun and it’s a competitive sport. It is rare that someone would walk into a bowling alley with their friends and not have a good time. It’s also a lifetime sport; they can play it as they get older and still enjoy it.
SDM: Are there state or local bowling organizations around the country?
Murphy: Yes, USBC has 2,700 local associations around the country that support its work. They run their own tournaments as well.
SDM: When USBC is selecting sites for its national events, what does it look for?
Murphy: We like to hold our national events in places that are centrally located; we’ve found that more people will go to a place they can reach easily. Bowling is a family sport, so you’ll see kids, parents and grandparents.
In addition, the area has to have a high-quality bowling center, as well as a community that is interested in being a part of the event. You need an area that has the resources to support the event, as well as enough hotels and restaurants. We run tournaments of all sizes.
SDM: What sorts of events does USBC sponsor at the national level?
Murphy: We have a number of championship events that run during the year for different ages and different levels, for men, women and mixed teams. Information on all of those is listed on our website. We’re launching a new women’s tour that starts this summer. We really consider ourselves to be building for the future.
SDM: Bowling is a huge part of the American culture. Do you see it continuing to flourish?
Murphy: Yes. Right now, Bowling is probably as cool as it has ever been. It’s part of a larger trend toward family entertainment. I’m sure bowling will be around for years, and that my grandkids and their grandkids will play it.