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Finally Bowling Becomes Official at Columbian

June 28, 2014 - Al Stephenson
Due to some dedicated people and a change of faces on the board of education, Tiffin Columbian's boys and girls bowling teams will get to compete in the OHSAA state tournament. Columbian has fielded bowling teams for over a decade now, but was doing so without the consent of the BOE and thus could schedule matches during the regular season but not get a chance at the big stage. That has now changed.

Athletic Director Derek Lewis had been seeking the change along with many parents and students. It took a long time to get it accomplished - maybe too long in some eyes - but perseverance paid off. Columbian's bowling teams (along with girls soccer) will get a two year club status. If things go as expected it will be a full fledged varsity sport starting in 2016. The good news for current student athletes is that the OHSAA allows club sports to participate in the state tournament.

For those of you who might be wondering why it took this long to get the status, perhaps I can shed some light on the subject as I too have been involved in seeking the addition of the sport. It all revolves around economics and the "promise." Like seemingly all other schools, Tiffin City has had its share of economic woes. Teachers and staff have been reduced, buildings have been closed and some extracurricular activities have been eliminated. For former administrators and board members, it was impossible to justify adding anything with a price tag when so many cuts were being made. Though bowling would be a very inexpensive sport to add, there would be some costs. Any cost would be too great some argued.

Then there was the promise. Several years ago the board of education had no choice but to cut many activities such as the school play. Students were saddened and the board members certainly were not happy they had to do it. When the cuts were made the BOE promised that nothing new would be added until those cuts could be restored. A simple little caveat, designed I suppose, to placate the students that had enjoyable activities taken away.

When the board was asked to add bowling, the promise was used as a partial reason for not doing so. No one wants to renege on a promise and the board did not do so. Part of the problem as I see it, is the promise should not have been made in the first place. By doing so, the BOE backed itself into a corner and ended up alienating more people.

Here is the problem with the promise that was made. The students who had the promise made to them have long since graduated. Times change and the desire for activities change along with them. Bowling became popular, but the promise made it impossible to add the sport. Once new board members - seemingly unaffected by the promise of others - were seated, the sport became a reality. My purpose here is not to find fault with the former members. Indeed I don't think they realized the problems that would be created by making the gesture to reduce the sadness of the former students. My point is to warn current members about making the same mistake. Refusing kids is something that nobody wants to do, but do not compound the problem by feeling sorry for them to the point where others will also suffer.

Columbian's boys team was awesome last year and should be very good again in the fall. That is not to say that having a "good" team is reason to have the sport added. All kids who participate in athletics, despite the win-loss record, benefit from the experience. Win or lose, the thrill of competing for a chance to go to state is exhilarating. Now Columbian's bowlers will have that chance.

I talked to a former T.C. bowler recently who did not get that chance to bowl in the state tournament. He was wistful about missing that chance, but more importantly he really regretted not getting a chance to get a varsity letter. He pointed out that bowling probably kept him in school. He likely would not have graduated had it not been for the sport. Then he looked at me and said, "I just wish I could have gotten that letter. It would have meant so much to me." Gaining a letter is two years down the road, but someday...

The view from my seat suggests that adding bowling is a great thing for Tiffin Columbian. Congratulations to the board of education for making it happen.


Article Comments

Jun-30-14 4:29 PM

Nice column Al. Let's also give you a "pat on the back" for your stories over the year.


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