Local bowlers back two-hander Belmonte
PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss figured he was launching "the debate to end all debates" when he recently called for the elimination of two-handed bowling.
Voss believes everyone should use one hand, and with his hand, the thumb must be used. His harshest statement, however, was that two-handed bowling is "like a slow cancer to an already diseased sport."
Voss said two-handed bowlers gain an unfair advantage by being able to create more revs, more power and consequently more pin action.
Jason Belmonte, the most famous two-handed bowler in the world and three-time PBA Player of the Year, was quick to defend his unorthodox delivery. Two-handed bowlers never take their opposite hand off the ball and they don't use their thumb, or only partially insert it.
"There is no intended or proper way to bowl the ball, there are just different ways to do it while staying behind the foul line," responded Belmonte. "Consider bowling a ball similar to the high jump and how Dick Fosbury changed that sport. Was jumping over the bar backwards normal? No, but the object of the high jump is how high you jump, not how you jump. Bowling is about how many pins you knock over, not how you do it. There are no extra points in bowling for correct and proper technique. It's just who knocked over the most pins."
While the debate has stirred up the bowling community, most local bowlers overwhelmingly support Belmonte.
Mike Slatky, one of the area's few two-handed bowlers, said Voss' argument doesn't have any merit.
"Two-handed bowling is difficult to master, and Belmonte has perfected it," he said. "It's probably more of an issue now because he has dominated the game and has made a lot of money."
Jerred Poff said Belmonte is the best thing to happen to the PBA since he arrived on the scene in 2008.
"He has rejuvenated the PBA and revolutionized the game," said Poff. "Plus, he has inspired thousands of kids. I'm in awe of him."
"Two-handed bowlers can create more power, so what," offered John Jameson. "It's not illegal, and I don't have an issue with it. I think it's creating some much-needed excitement in bowling."
Greg Bruff said, "Voss vs. Belmonte comes down to old school vs. new school. It can be tough to compete with two-handers because of their increased rev rate and pin action, but I don't think it's bad for bowling. A lot of young kids are starting to bowl two-handed."
Jimmy Plessinger pointed out that almost every sport has evolved with more speed and power over the past 50 years.
"I'm not a Belmonte fan, but I respect his talent as well as any bowler who can compete on the national tour at that level," he said. "The point is you have to figure out how to get 10 pins instead of nine more times than your opponent."
Tom Klinedinst generally supports Voss. He said equipment advances have tipped the scales dramatically to the side of power and revs as opposed to accuracy and finesse.
"I don't think two-handed bowling is the problem as much as I think it is a product of a bigger issue in the sport," he said.
— Barry Sparks writes about bowling for The York Dispatch. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org