JBT Eligibility is simple: If you're age 21 or under as of 8/1/17, and not a current member of the PBA, you can bowl in ALL JBT 2017-18 events. This 21-or-under rule is the same age rule that JBT has had since its inception on the east coast in 1975.
Thanks to USBC's lowering of the age they consider 'youth', JBT events are not 'adult' events or 'junior' events. We are an 'age-based scholarship tour' (most other JBT-like tours across the country have adopted a similar 'hybrid' model). However, 'ABST' doesn't quite roll off the tongue like 'JBT', and we're not in the habit of changing our name due to outside organizations changing their own rules. So, 'JBT' it is.
If you're interested in more details and behind-the-scenes politics, contact us. Personally, I'm kinda tired of it, hehe.
BOWLING JBT EVENTS DOES NOT IN ANY WAY AFFECT YOUR ELIGIBILITY TO BOWL OTHER USBC EVENTS. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU ANY DIFFERENTLY. PLUS, IF YOU'RE UNDER 22 AND NOT A PBA MEMBER, YOU CAN BOWL WITH US.
This is a strange time in the world of bowling. The Junior Bowlers Tour, and many other tournament groups, leagues, and scholarship associations nationwide, have chosen to not certify with USBC for the 5th consecutive season, as a result of rule changes implemented over the summer of 2006. USBC then lowered the age for USBC Youth membership to 19 and under in the summer of 2009. The JBT's response was to keep our age limit at 21 and under, which it has been since 1975, and simply become an age-based Tour, regardless of a bowler's 'adult' or 'youth' status. There is a great deal of half-information, mis-information, and, sadly, malicious information out there about our responses to these changes. We hope you'll take the time to carefully read the following.
REGARDING AGE ELIGIBILITY: originally written 8/2009
For the 2009-10 season of JBT competition, our eligibility rule will read as follows: “JBT events are open to all bowlers age 21 or under as of August 28, 2009, excluding PBA members”.
This rule change is a necessary response to usbc’s lowering of their age limit to 19 or under as of next season. It’s irritating to me that we have to change anything about our age rule at all-- we’re not in the habit of fixing what isn’t broken. However, we will not abandon our older bowlers, and thus must respond with this amending of our own rule.
Ironically, usbc’s rule change results in a simplification of the JBT rule. Essentially, just show your ID saying you’re under 22, and come bowl the best scholarship tournaments around. Of course, this also results in a philosophical shift in what in means to be a ‘junior bowler’. Yet this is, again, an end result of the Pandora’s box opened up when juniors were allowed by USBC to compete in adult tournaments, in any fashion, in the first place (as a quick fix to a format change in Team USA Trials, of all things). It is plainly evident to me that these rules and exceptions will continue to change and spiral into further complexities, so consider the simplification of our rule to ‘under 22’ as a “preemptive strike” to extinguish these debates from the JBT world.
When we first heard of the age change, we immediately went to our bowlers for advice. We presented three potential re-wordings of our rule, and asked for feedback on them, as well as took other suggestions. I’d like to thank everyone for the great points made during this process, even if they made a suggestion I personally didn’t agree with. After debating all the pros and cons of each wording, I kept returning to, and telling myself, one crucial axiom: ‘keep it simple’. What I mean by that is by adding any further detail to the age rule, it will create a problem, either immediately, or an unforeseen problem in the future. A lot of folks expressed support for an option which forced bowlers ‘returning to juniors’ to pay a reinstatement fee, 100% of which went to scholarships. A pretty good idea, I think, but in the end, it’s impossible to police 100% effectively. People, knowingly or not, will try and avoid the fee, and arguments and bad feelings will ensue. No bueno.
That’s just one simple example of the issues that will come up with a complicated age rule. Even after 600+ tournaments, something new comes up at nearly every JBT event, and an issue over eligibility is something there cannot be any gray area with. Thus, the simple beauty of the new age rule.
Even with this new, simple rule, I know there are pros and cons. The obvious ‘con’ many folks pointed out is that this allows what has come to be termed ‘double-dipping’: bowlers can bowl in both adult and JBT events at the same time. I have three points to make regarding this:
1) Double-dippping is already allowed under last year’s rules (and has been since usbc rule 400 was amended). A bowler could conceivably win the PBA’s US Open, and still bowl in their local Saturday morning USBC youth league. So, this is hardly a big step up from the existing double-dipping, which hasn’t had a deleterious effect on JBT competition. Anyone who wants to can take advantage of this to gain as much experience in any form of competition they want, JBT or otherwise, and is welcome to.
2) I believe that the fear of being overrun with ‘adult bowlers’ coming back to JBT, while certainly valid, is a bit exaggerated. Here’s how I see it: there’s a reason that kids who ‘go adult’ before their age requires them to do so: they’re done with junior bowling. Whether it’s because they don’t want to deal with the restrictive behavior rules of junior events as compared to adult events, they want to bowl with adult friends or family, they’ve “done it all” in juniors, they don’t need scholarships or would rather play for cash, or whatever reason, very few are going to be eager to come back to the same environment that they voluntarily left in the first place! (Incidentally, one of our responses to having potential ‘returning’ bowlers will be to increase- not decrease- our discipline rules that are designed to provide a kid-friendly environment for all ages and averages. Any bowler used to the typical ‘adult’ environment will be in for a major attitude adjustment when they come back to JBT!)
3) This is a more behind-the-scenes thing, but I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding or skepticism about it: JBT is in no position to create a rule which will be more restrictive about who can bowl our events. Even though we are a healthy organization, total entries are down in a few of our conferences for the first time ever. Whether it is the shaky economy, the steep decline in overall usbc youth membership, a natural end to the fast rise in growth from our initial seasons, or a combo of all of these, is hard to tell. Regardless, the new JBT age rule means that we never have to lose a bowler before they turn 22 ever again. This is something which is obviously attractive to the health of the JBT, and thus should be to you too.
Consider, though, the positive side of the same argument instead of the negative. I used this example in earlier writings, but what about people who shouldn’t have gone adult early in the first place? New bowlers who were placed in adult leagues before they ever heard of opportunities like JBT can now experience our program. Bowlers who went adult only to find out that just maybe it was a bit premature to do so now can rejoin our family. Bowlers who find themselves again needing to earn scholarship money will always have an outlet to do so. Bowlers who thought JBT was expensive who then found out adult events are reeeeeally expensive and often at a much higher competition level, now have a second chance. I believe that these are all good things, and more than outweigh the negatives in the final analysis.
I’d also like to point out that our age rule is similar to what almost all other Tour-type organizations are doing, both certified and not. It’s not ‘yet another rebellious move’ on our part to word our age rule as we have, despite any cynicism from the under-informed or jealous.
JBT is about a lot of things at once, that’s why we’re successful. Any age, average, gender, and skill level can all have a great time, regardless of the final results of any individual tournament. The social skills and life-on-the-road skills learned can be as valuable as the bowling experience. You can bowl just once or twice a year, or be a die-hard and follow us everywhere. Our flexibility is our calling-card. But, conversely, at its heart JBT has a clear element of the cut-throat. We are not the pizza-party, cosmic bowl, everyone’s-a-winner event. The goal is to find the best scratch and the best handicap division bowler on any given day. And in the purity of our new age rule, we have an even better embodiment of that ideal. No other restrictions- the best scratch and best handicap bowler under 22 will win that day’s event. If one of junior bowling’s main purposes is to be a measuring stick for your ability level before hitting the ‘big time’ of adults, the new age rule will give you the best possible evaluation of your performance. All of these are good things.
I have tried in this piece to consciously not voice an opinion towards the actual usbc rule change, or other people’s various responses to it, and to leave matters of opinion out (I’ve done plenty of that elsewhere). I am sick of having my passion for doing what’s right being seen as confrontational for the sake of being confrontational. As I gain more age and experience, I feel JBT (and my hairline) is better served by focusing only on what is best for JBT. Usbc is doing what it feels is necessary to ‘save youth bowling’. Thanks to YOU believing in us, JBT is doing just fine, and the rule change usbc came up with to help itself is detrimental to us. Thus, my only goal is to respond to that change in a way that best benefits JBT and its bowlers.