PBA Tinted Oil Discussion

Small disclaimer before I start, this is an opinion column, not a teaching one or an informational one, so feel free to agree or disagree, and post your comments or opinions below! The following opinions of mine are regarding the PBA’s recent experiment with using tinted or colored dye in the lane oil. The idea was that they would finally be able to make the oil visible to show what it looks like in place so the average bowler or the people at home would get a better idea of what’s going on. In the past, it’s been hard, and for some, nearly impossible to explain or understand the effect that the oil has on ball reaction. It was the PBA’s intent to use it as a teaching tool for the viewers, and not any kind of aid to the bowlers.

If you have been watching the telecasts, you have seen the dye used in the oil for the 4 animal patterns, though tournament officials decided against using it for the major, the World Championship. It will also return for the WBT Finals next Sunday. In my opinion, it was ineffective. Virtually no difference could be seen in the patterns, they all looked very similar in length and volume, and not much detail was gone into regarding it. They also didn’t go into much detail in describing it or talking about it, they simply said it was there, and that was it.

I personally have enough experience that I can tell where the oil is at just by reading ball reaction, the oil being blue didn’t offer me anything I couldn’t get by watching them throw the ball or looking at the pattern lane graph. The dye wasn’t dark enough to show the full extent, or to vividly show exactly where all the oil was at, but if they had made it dark enough, it would have completely obscured all the targets on the lane and made it more difficult for the bowlers. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there’s a way to show it on a live telecast like that and be able to show exactly what they wanted to show, I feel the PBA was handcuffed a bit in that aspect. PBA Commissioner Tom Clark had commented before the telecasts were aired that it was difficult to see oil volume differences, and indeed it was. I do think the PBA did the best it could in executing the amount of dye it added to the oil, but ultimately it resulted in almost more confusion than clarity.

For example, the Scorpion pattern especially looked not much different from the rest, though it was much longer. When the ball reached the end of where you could see the oil, it continued to slide much further than what you could see indicated that it should. However, on the Chameleon, the ball started hooking much sooner after reaching the end of where the oil was visible. This could confuse some people thinking, “well, on one pattern it started hooking 10 feet after the end of the blue, and on another it started hooking almost 20 feet after the end of the blue.”

It also could have just not translated well on tv. It quite possibly could have been much easier to see in person, but being that the idea was to be able to show it to a much larger audience on tv, it just didn’t work out. I hope they find some way to make it viable, or to be able to demonstrate it or show it a different way to get the effect that they were after, but for now, it unfortunately fell flat. What did you think about the blue oil, and what do you think they could do to show it better?