Embracing Diversity


Embracing Diversity 

From October - December 2022 Edition of IGBO Newsleter

By Sam Hull, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair

Last year we started the process of acknowledging our shortcomings around diversity and inclusion within the organization. This past year I have spoken with leadership in IGBO, regional directors, tournament directors, and league officers. I have been contacted by participants from TNBA, Nisei, and USBC as well. All this is great news!

The discussions being held are both policy-focused and participant-welcoming. I was fortunate to meet with our women officers and narrow the discussion to capture the history and keep the work done by IGBO women bowlers of the past in view, but also communicate and create structured thoughts on where the new paths may take us both in the near and distant future regarding gender policy changes needed to recognize modern inclusivity of all participating bowlers within IGBO and our governing membership bodies.

Last year we laid a path for leagues and tournaments to end confining and non-inclusive gender-based awards and categories. Many leagues and tournaments have chosen to begin that process, and the results have been positive for both the bowlers and for the participating events. I was fortunate enough to attend the Seattle Espresso Cup Tournament in January this year. It was nice to see how quickly Nick Jasper and his team incorporated the new divisional system. They had a sold-out tournament that saw five divisions acknowledge 20 winners all based on skill level alone. There were four women winners in that group, creating a 300% increase from a normal best man – best woman scenario. That is progress. My own league, PDX Pride in Portland, Oregon, saw our first non-binary bowlers join this season. It was wonderful to have diversity inclusion, but it did come with some of the issues I discussed last year in Vegas.

The USBC registration does not have any choices past male and female on the registration cards. These young people were immediately put on defense after taking the bold step as non-bowlers to join our community. Luckily, I am “that” person, and I said leave it blank and I will take it up with USBC. Long story short, our local Greater Portland USBC chapter took note and created their first Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair position and asked PDX-Pride Bowler Kyle Butler to helm that role. They also pledged to support the BIT Tournament in October as their diversity focus for the year.

A lot can happen in a little bit of time. It only takes mindful actions from both those in charge and by the participants of the events. The picture above is so clear and easy on how to do this. It relies upon the action of inclusion. It is that action that will bring about the changes that will help all our bowlers feel that they belong. It will allow them to be recognized for their independent skillset among their peer bowling group. It also allows the diversity of who we are to be unquestionable, which leads to the validity of the equity and equality we claim we stand for as an organization and community. This is an ever-changing landscape.

This is a process-oriented transformation. If your league or tournament would like to have the committee’s help or guidance in creating your path towards inclusion, please contact us. We are eager to help. Our goal is to have more resources available on the website this summer. See you in DC!