Imagine with me, if you could, stepping up to the lane, in the 10th on a double and needing a strike to win the game. Now, imagine further, that the strike not only wins the game for you, but an entire franchise and $20,000 is on the line. Imagine stepping up to the lane and your opponent purposefully walks across your lane and slaps your ball, and wistfully whispers “Don’t Tap” and laughs as he walks by. All while this is happening, imagine an entire bowling center worth of people screaming and heckling you at the top of their lungs and your teammates anxiously looking at you with their hopes in you for you to throw the best ball you have ever thrown in your entire life. Yes, you have had an amazing look all day and if you close the game you finish with a 279 because you tapped and left a nasty little 10 pin earlier in the game on the same lane you need to finish on. But, you know, as does any seasoned bowler, that anything can happen on the lanes. Yes, all this is running through your mind. You cannot miss. Hell, if you miss, you lose that side bet, for your rent money, you had with Joe Blow and the rival team you are bowling against gets all the satisfaction in saying you are what they thought you were. However, as you grab for your bowling ball, you remember the name on the back of your Jersey says: “Always Close in the Tenth.” With that thought in mind you grab your ball, turn to the crowd and announce: “$20 for anyone who doesn’t like me to strike!” After a few seconds you count 10 hands raised. “Bet Good!” you exclaim, proceed to take your approach, lineup, and after laughing to yourself at the person yelling “Bet you don’t close in this Tenth,” you throw the ball, turn your back on the shot, and listen as you bury all 10 back for the purest strike ever. The crowd goes wild and your teammates rush you on the lane. Yes, this is the Underground Bowling Association better known as the UBA and this is the culture we all embrace and love.There is a saying in the UBA: “You can copy the format, you can copy the look, but you can’t copy culture!” Nowhere, and I emphasize NOWHERE, in the sport of bowling can you replicate what the UBA brings to the table. Back in 2009, when Phil Chance envisioned this organization, he wanted to create a competitive environment for this sport, that emphasized the talent of the athletes in the bowling community, but also maintain an environment that entertains and stimulates the spectators. Mission certainly accomplished.
Nearly 12 years later, an Association that started off with 16 bowlers, has blossomed to over 270 unique Franchises with thousands of members that are just as unique, which help to shape and encompass the spirit and heart of this Culture, spanning from the East to the West Coast of the United States. You see, the Professional Bowling Association (PBA) features some of the greatest talent in the sport of bowling, some with unique personalities, as well. They have the sponsors, the equipment, and the television spots. However, at the end of the day, they are simply bowlers. Take a look at the PBA and notice how many of their members are now part of UBA Franchises. Take a look at the conversations the PBA bowlers have about the “action” the UBA generates and the excitement surrounding this Association. One could even argue the PBA League (established in 2013) seeks to replicate the excitement the UBA brings to every Tour Stop. You cannot blame them for emulating a system that works. But, remember that you can copy the format, but you can’t copy the culture.
The UBA allows for a bowler to become a unique persona, something legendary on the lanes. You are more than the individual who is throwing a spherical object down the lane for three games, you have become something more and you represent more. it allows for a person to embody a persona and become a unique version of themselves. There is nothing like it. During this day and age, it is rare to find something engaging and wholesome that allows you to become something other than yourself for a few hours. This is the UBA culture. It is euphoric, intoxicating and nothing can replicate it, anywhere, when it comes to this sport, we all love and adore.
So, as we endure this long off-season and prepare for next fall, let us take the time to reflect and appreciate this Association that gives us the opportunity to be the greatest versions of ourselves on the lanes. Let us look forward to donning our Franchise’s jerseys and reintroducing ourselves to the bowling community. Get your cameras, shoot promos, show off your jerseys, talk your trash, and get your action bets lined up against rivals, friends and foes. Next Fall, let the UBA culture shine through and let all other bowling organizations stand by and admire as we all exclaim in unison, UBA ALL DAY! Be safe and stay healthy UBA Family.