Column: Urethane Tests Reveal No Intentional Cheating

LINCOLN, Neb. – With rumors and speculation flying around for weeks, the United States Bowling Congress did a field test Sunday and Monday at the U.S. Open on urethane bowling balls. And it’s plain to see there was no intentional cheating happening.

Although as of Monday afternoon two Purple Hammer urethane balls failed the inspections, the reality is that nearly 300 balls were tested, including dozens of Purple Hammers. Less than 1 percent of all balls tested failed, a statistically minor amount.

The two balls that did fail did so by a relatively small margin and realistically offered players very little, if any, competitive advantage. The margins are small enough that it is evident that no player attempted to “cheat” by using a ball that was too soft intentionally.

The issue is when urethane balls are soft, they hook more because more surface area of the ball touches the lane. When the bowling balls are harder, they cover less surface area.

Balls can change hardness depending on the temperature. The colder they are, the harder they are. When bowling balls are warmer, they become softer.

The testing, which will conclude late Monday, clearly shows that no players were attempting to gain an unfair advantage. In fact, it is likely they did not even realize their balls were illegal.

Calling any player a “cheater” because of the results of this testing is irresponsible and misguided. No player’s accomplishments should be tarnished as a result of these tests, and the PBA does not plan to take action against any of the players.

One of the most concerning aspects of this situation, however, is not the results of the test but how we got here.

The culture of negativity that led to these tests being required is disappointing and bad for our sport. Players dancing around the issue and casting doubt on the legality of balls is not the way this should have been handled.

If a player wants to make a direct accusation, a path to do so exists under PBA and USBC rules, and it could have eliminated what has been a nasty few weeks of a few with pitchforks on social media.

We, as a sport, must change the way we approach issues like this. Negativity, rumors and speculation simply breed intolerance and disinformation.

Yes, ultimately, a couple of bowling balls were found to be slightly out of spec. But was the path we got there worth it to find that result? Absolutely not.

We must be better. We have to be better.


Lucas Wiseman is the senior editor of FloBowling. He has covered bowling around the world for more than two decades. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Battle Of The GOATs Event Postponed Due To Coronavirus Concerns

The highly anticipated Battle of the GOATs event scheduled for May has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What's On FloBowling The Week Of March 23

The coronavirus pandemic may have shut down the sport of bowling across much of the country but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite sport.

Cabin Fever? FloBowling Has You Covered

In order to help you get your bowling fix while the coronavirus pandemic grips the nation, FloBowling will rebroadcast the 2019 PBA Tour season every Tuesday and Friday and roll out plenty of other content.

All PBA50 Tour Events In April, May To Be Rescheduled

The PBA revealed Wednesday all PBA50 Tour events scheduled for the months of April and May are officially “to be rescheduled” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bowling Is Shutting Down Across The Country

As the coronavirus crisis grips the nation, bowling is, understandably, starting to shut down across the country.

Past Health Issues Made Stakes Higher For Lavoie

LAS VEGAS – While the health of players, families and staff was top of mind this week, for Francois Lavoie it was even more critical than most.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Family Watches As Belmo Wins 13th Career Major

LAS VEGAS – With his family watching him compete for a title for the first time, Jason Belmonte was able to overcome an awkward spectator-free stepladder Sunday to win the 2020 PBA World Championship.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Three Events Postponed, World Champ Continues At WSOB

LAS VEGAS – The PBA has postponed the three animal pattern events at the 2020 PBA World Series of Bowling but will continue with the stepladder of the PBA World Championship on Sunday.

Belmo Surges To Earn Top Seed At World Champ

LAS VEGAS – Jason Belmonte’s astonishing run of making major shows continued Thursday as he earned the top seed for the season’s fourth major at the 2020 PBA World Championship.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

PBA Will Hold WSOB Finals Without Spectators

LAS VEGAS – The PBA World Series of Bowling will continue as scheduled, but the PBA announced Thursday the five televised finals will be held without spectators.