BY BOB JOHNSON, BJI Senior Editor
On paper, or on a smart phone screen, they are just numbers.
You may recognize the first two numbers as the latest counts of the dead and injured, respectively, following the Friday night attacks across the city of Paris, France.
The third and fourth numbers are not likely to ring a bell, and yet they are significant in their own right. Or, at least, they could be.
Beginning Sunday morning at the Sam’s Town Bowling Center here in Las Vegas, representatives of 88 countries — 156 bowlers in all — will take to the lanes in the 51st QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup.
It is not just the number of countries that is significant. It also is the mix of countries. England and Northern Ireland. Russia and Ukriane. The United States and Iraq. It is a complicated world, where today’s ally could be tomorrow’s enemy, and vise versa.
And it’s even more complicated in an age when the enemy may not even be a recognized country, as the residents of Paris now know all too well.
Yet through the years, a bowling tournament — the World Cup — has demonstrated that people from different countries, religions, backgrounds and beliefs can coexist peacefully and even with sincere friendliness.
It happened in 1972 after 11 Israeli Olympic team members were taken hostage and later killed by Palestinian terrorists in Munich. It happened in 2001 following al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States. And now it’s happening again following the ISIS attacks on Paris.
Earlier this evening, the aforementioned 156 bowlers marched into the “Live!” performance room at Sam’s Town, as Tournament Director Bernard Gibbons introduced the countries one by one, in alphabetical order.
Gibbons then introduced John Sou, Vice President and General Manager of Sam’s Town, who thanked QubicaAMF for bringing the tournament to Sam’s Town and welcomed the bowlers to Las Vegas.
Martin Faba, President of the Pan American Bowling Federation, then stepped to the microphone, and wished the bowlers good luck.
Next, Emanuele Govoni, CEO of QubicaAMF Worldwide, congratulated the players for qualifying for the prestigious, history-steeped tournament. He also noted that the field featured seven past champions, including a pair of two-time winners, Shannon Pluhowsky of the U.S. (who won in 2002 and 2004), and Aumi Guerra of the Dominican Republic (2010 and 2011).
Vern Vernazzaro, President of the Southern Nevada USBC Association, then took the oath for all tournament officials and judges, after which Pluhowsky took the oath for the players.
And with that, Gibbons declared the 2015 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup officially open, and a loud gong reverberated through the room’s speakers.
As is always the case, the bowlers from the host country received the loudest round of applause as they were introduced last, out of alphabetical order. Pluhowsky and Kamron Doyle proudly carried the sign of the United States.
The other countries were greeted with polite and somewhat reserved applause, except for one: France. With that loud but respectful gesture, bowlers from around world — people, not mere numbers — demonstrated their compassion not only for bowlers Amandine Jacques and Mike Bartaire, but for all the people of France.
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Action begins Sunday with the first of three days of qualifying. All contestants will bowl eight games per day — a total of 24 games — before each field is cut to the top 24 players. That will be followed by an additional qualifying round and a match play round, after which three bowlers in each field will advance to a stepladder final round featuring best-of-three matches. Bowlers Journal will have full coverage of the event here on bowlersjournal.com and feature coverage in the January issue of the magazine.