Most folks who bowl have a keen sense of humor – I think it comes with the shoes. Avid and knowledgeable bowler Dave Petruska is no exception.

In fact, this former Tucson Citizen copy editor, zealous bowler and very humorous man just nabbed first place – and $500 – in the 2008 United States Bowling Congress national writing competition in the editorial division. His award-winning editorial asked outgoing President George Bush to name a national bowling czar before he hit the road.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Petruska would make a grand bowling czar.

When I asked him a couple of questions about bowling for a column I was writing, he responded with several lengthy e-mails, links, historical facts and basically enough to write not only a column on bowling but an entire book.

This guy is good. Obviously the United States Bowling Congress thinks so, too. This is Petruska’s 16th national award from the organization.

His latest winning entry appears below. Way to go, Dave!


National bowling commission
Petruska: Do right thing, Dubya – put bowling on a roll

Published: 06.12.2008

To: George W. Bush
From: Dave Petruska
Re: National bowling czar

Dear “W,”

Hey, since you’ll be leaving D.C. and heading back to Texas – soon to be the new home of the United States Bowling Congress – I thought you might want to do something special while you are still in power.

What we really need is a National Commission on Bowling, and I’m your man to head it.
Can’t you imagine the headlines in the New York tabloids? The Daily News: The Czar of David: Bush Backs Bowling Brahman; The Post: Kaiser Roll: Prez Picks Pepper Pot Petruska Pingod.

My credentials? Well, I’m a very true friend of bowling. Have one of your aides do a Google search for AVTFOB on that thing Al Gore created and you’ll get the point.
I’m simply calling in a personal favor because, after all, the Petruska family has made some sacrifices for the Bush family over the years.

Remember your 2001 Notre Dame University commencement speech? My niece, Liz, was graduating, and the ceremony ran more than two hours over because of all the security measures.

And when your daughter, Barbara, graduated from Yale in 2004? You might recall that the Secret Service took over Sage Hall, the headquarters of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies? Well, Liz received a master’s degree that year from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and all that extra hoopla didn’t make her final days in college very enjoyable.

Just because it’s a national commission, doesn’t mean we have to be in D.C. I’ll set up shop in Arlington, Texas, right near what will be the USBC’s new offices, which is near the offices of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA). You used to work a few miles away at Arlington Stadium when you were one of the owners of the Texas Rangers, so you already know your way around.

We’ll keep in close contact, too, with the PBA Tour, maybe convince them to move from Seattle. We’ll make Texas the Republic of Bowling!

It will be a difficult move for me, a New York Giants fan, to live in Dallas Cowboys
country, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

I’ll even put you on an advisory panel with two ex-presidents I greatly admire – Rothschild and Roberson. That’s Tucsonans Lowell Rothschild and Walt Roberson, former presidents of the USBC. They can help make those bucks stretch. Lowell, an attorney, has handled many bankruptcy cases, and Walt – a fellow Texan! – was the University of Arizona’s director of purchasing from 1975-85.

I don’t think my budget request is too out of whack: $733 million. That’s what Boeing is getting to build border security infrastructure (Virtual fence! That’s a good one, huh!), so I think that’s fair. We gotta think big, like most Texans do. Hey, Congress got $17 billion in earmarks last year, so this is doable.

And since we’re going to lobby the International Olympic Committee to get bowling in the Olympics, well, that’s going to be costly.

There won’t be any political turmoil. We’re not talking immigration reform here. Left-wingers and right-wingers bowl, as do middle-of-the-road left-handers and right-handers. We’ll even help out the candlepin and duckpin bowling industries. Yes, this bowling czar will be a kind and benevolent despot.

I’ll have only one rule: No business will be carried out on a golf course. My first thought when I hear BPAA members talk about meetings away from their place of business: What, are you ashamed of where you work?

My platform:
• We’ll help expand junior bowling programs in every state, providing equipment for those who need it free or at reduced costs.
• We’ll add, where space allows, a pair of lanes to any youth center in America.
• We’ll help get bowling recognized as a varsity sport in those states that don’t have programs and grow the sport in states that already sanction it.
• We’ll push more colleges to add bowling teams.
• We’ll help bring bowling centers back to the inner cities and create bowling academies similar to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
Think of all the jobs we’ll create in construction, for bowling equipment makers, for the technicians to service the lanes and help set up the computers for the scoring systems, for coaching and the travel industry, etc.

I’ll use my bully pulpit for a serious lobbying effort to get bowling in the Olympics, to buttonhole sponsors to jack up the prize fund for the PBA Tour and hopefully help revive a full women’s tour. We’re not talking PGA Tour money here, but we can do much better. American automobile, oil and beer companies should be ashamed that they are not major sponsors of the PBA Tour.

Lobbying the International Olympic Committee isn’t cheap, you know, but c’mon, table tennis and synchronized swimming are Olympic sports, and so is skeleton – better known as riding a sled downhill face first – as opposed to the luge, also an Olympic sport, in which you ride a sled downhill feet first. (I admit, too, I had to look up what skeleton was). And I almost forgot curling, which is basically bowling on ice with the help of a broom, although you can play defense in curling.

Money talks in America, and the coverage will come. Perhaps The Associated Press will even deign to start carrying PBA stories, instead of just sending out the results. And, maybe, at least, run weekly result updates, and a story or two, from the men’s and women’s national tourneys, which will combine to draw about 100,000 competitors this year.

Nothing wrong with dreaming big.

But I’ll be flexible. We can come down a couple of hundred million or so. But there is no caving on the following items:
• $10,000 for bowling lessons for Barack Obama. Anyone who rolls a 37 needs a lot of help, and we can’t have the possible leader of the free world looking bad on the lanes.
• And $1,000 to retrofit the gutters at the White House lanes with bumpers until Obama improves his game.

Citizen copy editor Dave Petruska says if he ever does a compilation of his bowling stories, it will be titled “Ham and Wry on a Roll.” RYNnote: He also offered to blog bowling for, but only if he gets the same $500 per post he got for winning this writing contest.