New Classification Helps Reopen Centers in Illinois

by Bob Johnson 0

Is bowling a sport or recreation?

That question has been at the forefront of bowling’s Olympic Games quest for decades. And now, the answer to that question has become an important element in the reopening of tenpin centers in one Midwest state.

The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association has agreed, with the approval of its board of directors, to a settlement offer with the state of Illinois, moving bowling into “all sports” guidance rather than the “indoor recreation” guidance originally announced in the Restore Illinois phase four posting on June 22.

The accepted settlement takes effect immediately.

Here are the basic details of the agreement, according to ISBPA Executive Director Bill Duff:

* Bowling centers will be governed by the “All Sports” guidelines under the Restore Illinois Plan, rather than the indoor recreation guidelines. The current guidelines were adopted by the governor on July 30.

* Bar or restaurant services offered at bowling centers will be governed by the guidance for bars and restaurants.

* The “All Sports” guidelines require a 30-ft. distance between groups of 50. This may be accomplished by maintaining at least two unused lanes between groups of up to 50, which is consistent with guidance previously provided by local public health departments.

* Bowling centers will adhere to a maximum capacity of 50 percent of occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer, with the understanding that if COVID-19 cases should decrease and there are no outbreaks associated with bowling centers, the governor is willing to revisit that limit.

* In the event the applicable guidelines are changed in the future for all businesses covered by the applicable category, bowling centers will comply with the amended guidelines. So, if guidelines for “All Sports” become more restrictive, they will apply to bowling centers. Likewise, if the guidelines become less restrictive, those also will apply to bowling centers.

“We have also assured the state that our members will continue to comply with procedures developed by ISBPA and BPAA guidelines and best practices,” Duff said.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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