Bowling News USA - June 20, 2011 Storm's Jason Belmonte Comments on Recent Televised Incidents
2008-2009 PBA Tour Rookie of the Year and Storm star Jason Belmonte has released the following statement in response to his recent involvement in two televised incidents, one of which will air on ESPN during the upcoming GEICO PBA Team Shootout telecasts which begin Saturday June 25 at noon ET, and then continue Sunday the 26th, and again the following weekend Saturday and Sunday July 2nd and 3rd.
JASON BELMONTE STATEMENT
I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. The Orange Open was on and it saw many of Australia’s best bowlers come to town. For us small town locals, seeing these guys who could curve the ball and shoot well over 200 every game was a sight we all loved. I was so excited, bursting to just jump out of the car and see those I idolized.
The bowling centre was packed, finding my favourite player wasn’t easy, but a few games in I had found him. I remember trying to see his every shot, peering through the legs of those in front of me. After he struck one shot, I stuck my arm through the crowd to get to him and offered him a high 5 for the shot. He looked down at me and said “I don’t give 5, that’s for girls.”
People laughed and I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed that I even admired someone like that. I go back to that story every time I am in a bowl, every time someone asks me for an autograph or a photo or a high 5. No matter who they are, they deserve the same respect they give me. They deserve a small portion of my time because they have given a small portion of theirs.
That lesson has also been taught to me by my family. My family has been in the bowling industry for all my 27 years and the most important part of their success, is friendly and honest customer service. They have taught me to treat those around me exactly how I want to be treated.
Over the last few months my credibility as a bowler, as a person and as a friend has been cast over a shadow of doubt.
I have been labeled a cheat, a child, and much worse things by fans, and other pros. Even worse, pros that I considered friends.
For what? Because I drink water out of a bottle? Don’t all athletes during pressure filled situations?
I said sorry to Angelo during and after our match at the Dick Weber Playoffs last season. I felt like the timing in which the bottle popped was extremely unfortunate. It caught him and even though I didn’t agree with how he reacted, I did the right thing and told him it was accidental, that I felt horrible about it and in no way did I intend to put him off. This incident was then blown out of the water by certain staff at the PBA, blasted all over Facebook and PBA.com, with poorly chosen headlines and edited YouTube clips to not only cause doubt over my intentions while bowling against Angelo but also to cause doubt over who I am as a person. To say after that incident I was upset was an understatement. I hate that it happened and I thought I made that clear by how apologetic I was on the day and in interviews there after that show.
Fast forward to June for the PBA Summer Series, one of the last matches of the summer series ended up with Sean Rash and I being the last bowlers left standing. Like I had for every single other frame of every other match I start my pre-shot routine by taking a drink from the water bottle given to me by the TV crew on the set.
On one of the closing shots of our match, while Rash was preparing, I had searched for my bottle that had fallen under my seat. I picked my bottle up off the floor. I held it by the bottle cap waiting for him to complete the shot. It popped in my hand, well before I was ever thinking about opening it. Not in his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th step, but before he had even taken a single step on the approach. I didn’t hold the bottle on the sides, pressing it in, trying to pop it during his approach. I simply was waiting. He pulled back, set himself again and bowled a great shot. When it struck, the verbal abuse started and his language with children present and the fact that it was on TV was appalling.
He claimed in his rant, between the cursing, that what I do with the bottle I do to everyone else on tour and that he took it upon himself to express that for everyone.
If Rash or Angelo or any other of the pro’s out there believe that I need ‘an ace up my sleeve’ to beat them on tour, it’s not only disrespecting my talents as a bowler but it disrespects me as a person. I don’t care who you are, or where you are from or what you have accomplished in the sport, I fear no one. I only admire and respect them and their talents as a player and mostly as a person bowling for their living. It’s all I expect from them in return. At this point in this competition Brunswick and Sean were no threat to Storm or myself and previous to Rash’s outburst, we were still good friends. I had no motive and nothing to gain from putting Rash off.
I have spent my entire career labeled a cheat because of the technique I have developed. I have spent years proving that I only beat you on the lanes because I was better than you on the day, not because I am breaking rules or trying to put people off.
I work harder than almost anyone with the promotion of bowling and I try my absolute best to give bowling the positive image it deserves. I stand up for bowling when people of the public slam it or when news reporters try to make bowling into a joke story.
Because I respect the sport that has given me so much. I respect the sport I love. I would never do anything to put bowling and it’s fragile image at any more risk than what it is at right now. Further more, I’m not one of the depressed, negative bowlers who believe bowling is ruined for all eternity, I believe in the words of Thomas Fuller, “The Darkest hour is just before the dawn”. This is bowling’s darkest hour and we as a bowling community need to do what we can to make sure we see the dawn rise. I don’t believe that cursing, abusing or trying to imply that a professional bowler on the PBA tour is out there cheating his way to victories by putting people off by popping a water bottle is the best way to promote bowling. Look, if I wanted to put them off using the water bottle I would throw the bottle at their heads.
I am completely insulted and disappointed by Rash and his actions. I am embarrassed and feel so stupid that I once not only called him a friend but when Rash was away from his family and friends in foreign lands across the world it was I who was there for him.
The PBA tour is tough to be on. The money is low, the expenses are high and time away from home is horrible for each player. I understand that the pressures of succeeding on tour are high and we all need to win to support our families and ourselves. I understand that at times this pressure leads to frustration, which will then lead to outbursts either on the lanes or behind closed doors. Usually though, these outbursts are directed to ourselves because of the disappointment about our performance and the knowledge that we did something wrong for the entire event or on one special shot that caused our departure from the tournament, but never directed at another opponent.
This blatant verbal abuse and disrespect is not what the PBA deserves from one of it’s current and for sure future stars, nor do I deserve it as a player or as a human being.
I will say this loud and very clear and I say it to those who have bowled against me in the past, those I will play in the future and to the fans watching. I am a respectful, honourable and honest bowler and person. If you beat me, you did it because you were better than me on the day and the same goes if I beat you. Simple as that.
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