Bobby Cox is one of the more transparent, accessible Indiana High School Athletic Association commissioners in recent years. He'll address any topic or issue you toss his way.
Like why isn't high school bowling an IHSAA sport?
You might be surprised to know why.
"We had conversations with bowling proprietors several years ago, even during Mr. (Blake) Ress' tenure as commissioner," Cox said, "but in the last three or four years, we have not heard from the high school bowling community."
Cox said close to 200 schools had bowling five years ago, but the numbers and voices have tailed off.
"A lot depends on their motivation," he added. "They have to come to us and accept our guidelines and the fact that moving from a club sport to an IHSAA-sanctioned sport is cost they have to absorb."
Of the IHSAA's 20 sports, seven are deficit sports — boys and girls golf, boys and girls tennis, gymnastics, boys and girls cross country.
Bowling is a deficit sport, Cox said.
"With boys and girls golf, alone, we're looking at a $115,000 deficit already on our budget," he said.
Football and basketball must carry the weight of funding the other sports.
There are currently 410 IHSAA member schools, of which close to 200 have bowling, according to Cox. But the club sport is not growing sufficiently.
For the association to sponsor a postseason tournament in any sport, half the member schools must field a team in that particular sport.
Bowling proprietors are another hurdle to clear.
Many bowling establishments offer youth leagues throughout the year, hoping to build a solid base for future business.
Because IHSAA student-athletes cannot compete for another team in the same sport in the same season as spelled out in its participation rule, bowling proprietors would stand to lose considerable revenue if high school bowling became a sanctioned sport.
Bowling is considered a club sport by the IHSAA.
There also is an eligibility issue.
Cox noted that students who win tournaments and meet other criteria on club teams earn scholarship money that's placed in a scholarship fund which they collect after graduation.
Accepting gifts and money is a no-no with the IHSAA.
"It slowed that conversation down," Cox said of adopting the coed sport.
On a more positive note, Cox said he has a good working relationship with Steve Kunkle, executive director of the Indiana High School Bowling Association, and is open to discussing all the issues.
But when asked if he saw bowling being sanctioned by the IHSAA one day soon, Cox told me it was doubtful.
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