See and points like this is why I'm open to disagreements. We all know that something is wrong, but I'm not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers to fix it. However, something needs to be changed that will make the bulk of your participants happy, so that thousands return home, tell their friends how much better it was, and ultimately start the tournament growing again. The elite 2-5% will never have any real impact on the tournament. If they all quit, barely a blip on the radar. Say they're 5% of the 10k teams, that's 500 teams, drops to 9500. We hit 17k at one point, and the drop didn't come out of that 2-5%.
I ultimately share your view. I liked how the tournament was the last couple years, it can stay that way and I'd be thrilled. But that just shows the disparity between views. Tournaments like Greater Ozarks thrive and grow despite having handicap, and records set in both singles (879 to win) and all events (2347 to win). Not only that but it's in the same city in the same centers every single year. Not only that but it draws big names. Andrew Cain leading virtually everything, CDB up on the board as well, last year my doubles singles squad included Justin Hromek, Chris Johnson, Paul Koehler, Rick Steelsmith, and Lonnie Waliczek. It's a handicap tournament on house shots, yet it draws year after year. What's it doing right that the OC is doing wrong?
All I know is that I deal with the average league bowler multiple times on a daily basis, and the second I stopped trying to push everyone into the perfect ball with the perfect fit and the perfect layout and push them to get better, once I relaxed and realized that not everyone wants to be a pro, not everyone wants to get better, not everyone wants to take it so seriously, my mindset changed, I'm having tons of fun to begin with, customers are happier, and business is the best it's ever been. Sometimes I shed a few tears when I do some really wrong things to bowling balls that the customer insisted on, but when their eyes light up and say it's perfect, THAT is what matters. The OC is being treated like a general admission Masters or US Open tournament and the vast majority of the 95% don't like it and honestly I have zero clue why they keep going. I hear nothing but griping and complaining and confusion while the 2-5% just grin and lick their chops. All the secrecy this year is doing is hindering education.
The second something ceases to be fun to someone is when they lose interest. Everyone has a different definition of fun, and you can't completely cater to them all, but even I can say I have a hell of a lot more fun at Greater Ozarks than I have at the OC, and THAT doesn't make much sense.
Thanks for the support everyone, really appreciate it. HOWEVER, I'm ok if someone disagrees.
Not necessarily a disagreement, but I'm not sure that a switch to catering to the 95% would result in a commensurate increase in tournament participation. If you made conditions easier, you'd lose some percentage existing bowlers. In my case, I have no illusions about my ability relative to the upper tier. I'm definitely not part of the 5%. Still, I'm happy if I bowl 1800-1900 in all events and win a few bucks in brackets. I go because of the challenge and all the pageantry surrounding a tough tournament. If conditions get watered down, I won't go. I get enough of that kind of bowling in my THS leagues. I know of several teams in my area that would stop going too. They don't want a replay of the local county tournament.
So the question, would enough new teams be attracted to offset the loses from a change? I don't know the answer to that. It would be interesting to know.