Suggested responses to criticism about the “cheating stick”

by bqmedia

The picture above displays the four “approved” BA “arms” for lawn bowls. They are generally a matter of personal choice, except that many thousands of bowlers across Australia have a chronic physical disability, have suffered an injury which limits their movement or are just too old to manage a three-hour game of lawn bowls.

To those who challenge this personal choice, I would point out the analogy of the bowls we use to enjoy our beloved game. Although all are of similar shape, we can choose our weight (1 – 5) we can choose our manufacturer, we can choose our performance and bias characteristics and our colour schemes.

Yet, after years of “arms or sticks” being approved by BA, we still hear our self- appointed club experts criticising arm bowlers for using the cheating stick and not playing “the game”! The irony of this, as outlined above, is these same critics do not hesitate to choose their own bowls and often give advice to other bowlers on the alleged merits of different makes and types of bowls.

Many clubs in Queensland and Australia would cease to function if members using artificial arms were denied their rights to choose this equipment and allow them to continue playing notwithstanding their “disability”!

Here are some suggested arm bowlers’ responses to ill-informed comments:

  • Ignore it as you would any comment generated through ignorance.
  • Ask them to talk with arm bowlers to understand how their medical conditions would stop them from bowling, if it were not for the arm.
  • Challenge them to roll up for at least 30 mins. using the arm. Ideally for longer in a practice game. If they are honest, they will acknowledge that the arm has as many challenges (line, length/weight and control/release point) as the human arm.
  • If appropriate, use humour and confirm that to make it an even contest, you have switched off all laser sighting and radio controls in the arm!

“I’m sorry, if you were right, I would agree with you” – Robin Williams.

Contributed by Ian Rowan