The initiative to create one organization to govern the sport of bowling started in January 2000 through a joint effort of the American Bowling Congress, Women's International Bowling Congress, Young American Bowling Alliance and USA Bowling.
ABC, founded in 1895, was a predominantly male organization of nearly 1.6 million members. WIBC, founded in 1916, was exclusively a women's organization with nearly 1.2 million members. YABA, founded in 1982, served bowlers younger than age 22 and had nearly 400,000 members. USA Bowling started in 1989 with the purpose of having a single organization represent the sport as the national governing body and support the national team. Merging the four organizations together would create one organization to serve more than three million bowlers nationwide.
While all of the organizations had great histories, they provided many of the same programs and services to their constituents. Today's business climate demands that such duplication of efforts be eliminated. Following that logic, leadership determined that consolidating organizations with virtually identical programs and services while expanding services to bowlers made good sense, assuring the continuity of valued programs and services for adults and youth.
Benefits of the merger:
- It would provide consistent service to men, women and youth bowlers by eliminating the current duplication in the membership organizations.
- It would be a better way of doing business; it would cost far less to do business together than separately.
- It would provide one-stop shopping for league secretaries, members and proprietors.
- Associations would spend less time in meetings and performing administrative duties providing more time to be with the bowlers.
- Nearly 75 percent of adult bowlers told us they wanted to be together by competing in mixed leagues.
- It would take advantage of the growth of family activities.
- It would provide for unified marketing opportunities.
The first step was to form the Single Membership Organization Task Force to research the concept. Later, experts in non-profit mergers and consolidations were consulted. After initial reports by the Task Force in 2001, two ad hoc committees, which included local/state association leaders, were appointed by the organizations to further develop the plan.
After listening to feedback from thousands of members, convention delegates, association officials, national board members and others, the committees presented its status report in spring 2002. Further modifications led to a proposal presented to the respective merging organizations boards of directors who approved the plan in November 2002.
Because the backbone of ABC and WIBC was their grassroots structure, one more step was required before the merger could move forward. While governed nationally from its offices in Greendale, Wis., ABC and WIBC had traditionally relied on a network of about 50,000 volunteers at approximately 4,000 state and local associations. Another 2,000 state and local associations and about 5,000 volunteers aided YABA, whose ultimate authority was vested in its national board of directors.
About 4,000 of the ABC and WIBC volunteers, elected to represent their constituents back home, voted on rules, dues and bylaws by which organizations operate at annual conventions. As the ultimate voting authority for ABC and WIBC, any merger proposal had to be approved by a two-thirds majority of each voting body.
The original plan of merger was approved by 50 percent of the ABC delegates and 60 percent of WIBC delegates. That show of support prompted organizational leaders to form an industry task force to revise the plan for another vote in 2004. In May 2004, 76 percent of ABC and 71 percent of WIBC delegates approved the merger. The YABA and USA Bowling boards of directors also approved the merger.
The ensuing months were spent putting the new organizations infrastructure together. The USBC Board of Directors held its first meeting in late June, the same month the organization applied to the United States Olympic Committee to become the sports national governing body. Roger Dalkin, the organization's first CEO, was selected in October 2004 after which he began to put together his operational staff.
On Jan. 1, 2005, the official launch of USBC signaled a new era in organized bowling. One of USBCs major goals is to become the central brand for bowling in the United States. It plans to do this by positioning the organization to grow the sport, encouraging more people to participate and increasing the power of the brand.
USBC stands for values that include: credibility, dedication, excellence, heritage, inclusiveness, integrity, philanthropy and sportsmanship.