I agree that Belmo is as close to this sport's Tiger Woods as we have, and in many ways, he's doing more for bowling than Tiger has done for golf. It hasn't had quite the same impact on bowling yet, at least in the states, but it's not for a lack of trying. He's become our sport's greatest current ambassador, and he's doing everything in his power to keep bowling relevant.
You know what Tiger did for golf? He won, and he spoke eloquently in interviews. He's an intelligent, well-spoken young man who happened to be the greatest golfer we may have ever seen, but frankly, he did little more than exude confidence and excellence on the course. Did he work to promote the game of golf through youth clinics and coaching sessions, or made for TV
grudge matches, or much of anything else for that matter? Not really. He cashed huge endorsement checks from Nike, Buick, Tag Heuer, and EA Sports, as well as other sponsors, so his face was everywhere, but most of that was done for him, not by him.
If the PBA chooses to develop the international game as much as golf has, it has a chance. Trying to depend on American audiences to keep the tour afloat will fail miserably. As I've mentioned earlier, Americans have so many more choices today than they did 40 years ago. I discovered that about 100,000 Americans played soccer in the late 1960s. By 1984, that number had grown to 4,000,000, and you cannot tell me that at least 1,000,000 of those soccer players, who were a little smaller than their football and basketball playing peers (think Norm Duke/PDW/Amleto/Dave Ferraro/Parker Bohn sized guys) were destined to be bowlers, but Mom and Dad dropped them off at the soccer field on a Saturday morning instead of the bowling center.
The reason soccer is so big in most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America is that they don't have the choices we have here. The marathon runners from Kenya who grow up running from point A to point B (many of them barefoot, I might add) do so out of necessity. None of them run to the country club with their golf clubs and tennis racquets on their backs.