JIM'S VIEW: The cost of playing bowls

PAY, pay, pay. Is that one of the main reasons we see declining numbers on the green?

Everything - from ever-changing bowls bias to garish clothing that quickly loses its appeal to the fashion fastidious - is replaced regularly.   

In earlier times a player starting in the game was outfitted cheaply and set up for years because bowls had only one bias and clothing was what was in most wardrobes.   

The game's very affordability made it attractive to those on limited incomes.

And let's face it - a large percentage of bowlers are retirees and others not overloaded with the folding stuff.   

Bowls Australia is typical of the current money grab.

The national body which, with its income from the compulsory logo and government handouts is surely not short of a quid, has a website where you can get The Laws of the Sport of Lawn Bowls, Crystal Mark Third Edition.

That's if you pay $9.

Many bowlers, scraping to get by, won't buy a set of rules and will continue to go onto the green without a clue what is the right thing to do.

The game's rules should be available to all bowlers at no cost.   

The successful conduct of our game hinges on players being aware of what they can or can't do.

I've seen more ignorance of the rules lately than at any time in my association with the game.   

Another instance of a charge being placed on everything, those dedicated volunteers responsible for seeing the rules are adhered to, the umpires, have to pay to qualify to do their job without which the game would be a shambles. 

To be a marker, the charge is $22 for the course.

To be a measurer you must first be a marker so the cost doubles to $44.   

Then to be an umpire you must have done the marker and the measurer courses, but …wait … there's a cut price for bulk buys - the cost is $44 if all three courses are taken together.  

Is it surprising that umpires are hard to find?

New players, too, are becoming as scarce as white bowls shoes.

Isn't it time the game's controllers started looking at ways to return the game to the affordability it once enjoyed?