Bowling has always been a great weekend activity for families and friends, and at the recreational level it has been doing well. But the competitive side of bowling has been struggling recently and has faced some challenges.
In Gary Beck’s eyes, bowling is going through a renaissance, and he is taking full advantage of new possibilities to get people, especially kids, involved.
Gary Beck is the founder of Killer ‘B’ Promotions, an organization that puts on some of the biggest events in the sport of bowling, from pro tours and adult amateur tournaments to youth and high school league competitions. The company has been around since 1991, when Beck decided to leave his work as a headhunter, close down his recruiting practice and bring together two things he loves to do: host events and bowl. Success for Killer ‘B’ soon followed with a number of high- profile events, and the organization took on some major competitions as its own, such as the AMF Dick Weber Classic and the Brunswick World Tournament of Champions. However, Beck’s favorite and most cherished event is the Teen Masters, a high school championship that has been around since 1997 and has awarded over $1 million in college scholarships to student athletes.
The focus on Teen Masters and young bowlers stems from Beck’s first career path as a teacher. This competition combines his love for creating events and teaching, so it is certainly close to his heart. As far as how he markets the event and the sport, he tends to think outside the box, or rather, the bowling alley.
“I try to do events that spread the message that there’s an opportunity for kids to get involved with bowling and do fairly well for themselves in terms of acquiring a college education,” Beck said. “So I try to do events outside bowling centers.”
Beck has staged bowling tournaments at Universal Studios and at the Fashion Show mall on the Las Vegas strip. This past summer, he and his team built a bowling lane inside Grand Central Station in New York City for the final four days of a bowling competition.
He has drawn national recognition for these bowling ventures, and he is constantly working to find new locations for events.
“Families like to see different places,” said Beck. “I do tend to move events around from city to city.”
As an active board member of the National Association of Sports Commissions, Beck works extensively with cities all over the country to help him put on his competitions. “We try to position events so that it benefits all the parties that are involved in making it a success,” he said.
Even though the sport of bowling has been struggling, Beck is not discouraged. Getting the word out about bowling as well as the fact that there are athletic opportunities associated with it is one of his main goals.
“I think bowling is a platform that I use to engage teenagers,” Beck said. “But any sport that allows kids an opportunity to test themselves to, as I call it ‘safely fail,’ is something that is very beneficial to them long term.” Bowling and events like Teen Masters are good ways to teach teenagers about life, according to Beck, and he is dedicated to driving that message in everything he does through Killer ‘B’ Promotions.