One thing PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark said when I asked him if future PBA Playoffs champions would be awarded a PBA Tour title was that he hopes people enjoy the event “for what it is, not what it isn’t.”
That is perfectly fair. Let’s begin with what the inaugural PBA Playoffs was.
It was the first time since the 2011 Tournament of Champions that the PBA awarded a six-figure top prize.
It marked the second and third time that live PBA bowling aired on broadcast TV in 2019, as both the semifinal and final rounds were broadcast on FOX, which previously aired the Tournament of Champions on Feb. 10.
Those FOX shows also saw the use of a studio-type presentation between matches as Rob Stone and Randy Pedersen were joined at a table by analysts Jason Belmonte and Kyle Troup. That classy production flourish made pro bowling look as good as any higher-profile sport under the sun.
Additionally, winner Kris Prather gets a special banner, and his victory counts toward the Player of the Year race. What it will not count for, though, is a PBA Tour title.
The PWBA Tour’s season-culminating event, the PWBA Tour Championship, does count as a tour title, and a major one at that. Among the reasons PWBA Tournament Director Tennelle Milligan gave for why she thinks “awarding a title to the PWBA Tour Championship makes sense” was that, “Only that year’s champions and a very small group of top performers are invited to compete. It could be said that it is bowling’s toughest test because you cannot just bowl well one week and win.”
Precisely the same can be said of the PBA Playoffs. It’s not about the money for the pros; it’s about the number of titles next to their names when their touring days are done. If any event should count toward that number, it is the PBA Playoffs.
“I hope the PBA players committee in its decision, which I respected, was thinking it could be a ‘new and different’ championship distinction, perhaps more prestigious than a title in the classic sense,” Clark said, adding that, “We can always revisit decisions and make changes later.”
Here’s hoping the decision to proceed with the PBA Playoffs as a non-title event will be revisited.