USBC to reclassify more than 700 leagues as Sport or Challenge leagues based on research

Note:  The article below was originally posted by the USBC on

ARLINGTON, Texas – After researching the averages of bowlers who competed in multiple leagues during the 2016-2017 season, the United States Bowling Congress determined the lane conditions used in more than 700 leagues were more difficult than conditions in Standard leagues and those leagues will be reclassified with the appropriate Sport or Challenge designation.

A total of 605 leagues will be reclassified to Challenge leagues and 99 leagues will be reclassified as Sport leagues based on data that showed the scoring pace was significantly different from the scoring pace its members had on Standard league conditions.

The averages of the bowlers in those leagues now will carry a Sport or Challenge designation on Find A Member. If they have no other average, the bowlers will need to follow Rule 201 and use the Sport or Challenge conversion charts when entering leagues or tournaments bowled on Standard conditions.

“Average integrity is an important issue this industry continues to face and USBC is being proactive in using the data to make sure leagues are properly classified,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “This is another positive step to leveling the playing field at all USBC certified events.”

During the next several days, USBC will send emails and letters to the league secretary, league president and bowling center of the leagues, and inform the local and state association managers of the reclassification. The letters also will state that leagues have the right to appeal the reclassification; any appeals will be overseen by the USBC Rules department.

With assistance from the USBC Specifications and Certification department, the USBC Membership department examined the averages of every league from the 2016-2017 season.

To ensure it had a sample size large enough to evaluate a league, at least 20 percent of a league’s members had to have an average in another league if the league was to be evaluated for possible reclassification.

For leagues with a large enough sample size, the data showed 99 leagues were statistically more difficult for bowlers, with averages of 20 or more pins higher in a Standard or “house shot” league, which showed the league was competing on Sport conditions. It also found 605 leagues in which bowler averages were 10-19 pins higher in Standard leagues, which shows Challenge lane conditions.

The reclassification of the leagues continues USBC’s efforts to ensure the averages bowlers use in leagues and competitions are a true reflection of their abilities. It also is part of the continuing evaluation of leagues following changes to the Sport program several years ago.

The Sport Bowling program was changed in 2015, removing the membership costs and the need to submit lane tapes, and became a resource for lane patterns and information for bowlers seeking a more challenging level. Leagues were tasked with self-reporting by designating their league as Sport if the league used the tougher lane conditions.

To bridge the gap between Sport and Standard leagues, USBC introduced the Challenge league designation in 2017 for leagues using tougher, though not Sport, lane conditions. Compared to Standard lanes conditions (house shot), bowlers in Challenge leagues have averages that are 10-19 pins lower than averages on a house shot. Averages in Sport leagues are 20 or more pins lower.

Visit to learn more about Sport and Challenge lane conditions.