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Who’s the most popular bowler with ESPN viewers? “Who do you think you are? I am!” It’s not often bowling gets to

share a red carpet with the likes of Major League Baseball, the Na- tional Basketball Association and the National Football League. But every

year since 1994, bowlers have been honored alongside the megastars of the glamour sports at the annual ESPY Awards. The awards, present- ed by ESPN, rec- ognize individual and team athletic achievement and performance. For nominated bowl- ers, the award ceremony, fi rst held in New York City and now held at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, off ers a sense of valida- tion and acceptance. Pete Weber (the eventual winner), Scott Norton and Jason Belmonte were the 2013 nominees for Best Bowler. Norton and Belmonte attended the festivities. “The event is awesome,” said Norton. “They treat us like celeb-

rities. The parties are great, the red carpet was fun, and what an experience to be in the theater during that spectacle. “To be in the room with such immense athletic talent left me both extremely humbled and extremely hun- gry to get back to the pinnacle of the sporting world next year!” “There are so

Belmonte and Norton at the ESPY’s, fl anked by bowler Vic Meyerhoff (left) and Norton’s husband Craig Woodward.

many great athletes from such a wide variety of sports,” said Belmonte. “I got to meet some amazing people, including [NBA

champion] Dwyane Wade and newscaster Robin Roberts.” Bowling is one of 17 individ-

ual awards presented, which are determined by fan vote. Weber, 50, who won the Tournament of Champions in April to com- plete the PBA’s Triple Crown for the second time, earned his third ESPY. He also won in 2002 and 2004. Walter Ray Williams is bowling’s all-time leader with seven ESPYs.



THAT DIAL ESPN’s commitment to

bowling doesn’t seem to be waning. In fact, get ready for even more tenpin on the cable network in the coming years. A new fi ve-year deal

Chop Shop: Weber, long a fan favorite and now two-time Triple Crown winner, won his third ESPY Award.

between ESPN and the Professional Bowlers Association calls for 36 hours of bowling programming per year, an increase of more than 40 percent over the current slate of 25 hours. It is presumed that the new PBA League, which debuted in 2013, will take on greater signifi cance in the new deal. The deal will begin with the

2013 World Series of Bowling, which kicks off in December. “We are thrilled to

continue our long-standing relationship with the PBA, which dates back to 1979, ESPN’s inaugural year,” said Jason Bernstein, ESPN Senior Director, Programming. “Bowling makes for compelling television, and with last year’s addition of the PBA League, it has the potential for appealing to a broader audience.”

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July 2013

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