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The Public Image of Billiards

The Public Image of Billiards

With all of this talk about the current state of billiards and cue sports in general, I'd just like to say that I don't think its important to change the image of pool.

I really don't even think it has that bad an image to begin with.

Lets face it, the state of the big name attractions in the sporting world are far worse.

I also found this well-thought-out piece on the matter:

After a few months of reading and participating in discussions about why there is such a poor market for men's professional pool, I have come to an obvious but important conclusion.

The obvious place to look for the fan base is in the amateur leagues. There are hundreds of thousands of players who obviously enjoy pool, but who do not know or identify with the professional players or go out of their way to attend pro tournaments or to watch professional pool on TV.

In short, there is an artificial disconnect between pool the game and pool the sport. The reasons for this, in my mind, are two-fold: First, there is no structured tier system by which one can advance from league player to top amateur/semi-pro to touring professional. This would act as the feeder system to the professional ranks and provide the setting for players of all levels to engage in fairly equal competition. The second is that to date there has been no effective means of really pulling league players into the world of top-level pool. I've been thinking that they following two ideas could work in tandem towards this end. They would certainly be just the first steps in the long comprehensive process that is needed for pools continued survival and future prosperity.

What if there was a feeder system wherein the winner of BCA-sanctioned state championships, as well as top finishers in BCA, APA and VNEA national tournaments were given entry to pro tournaments such as the U.S. Open, Derby City Classic, etc.? Even if they don't end up doing well, it is an added incentive and an added link between the amateur and pro game, and it could be the beginning of a tiered system of competition by which players progress up in class and ranking and are able to engage in regional and national competition at their respective levels.

What if the three major leagues provided that a surcharge will be added to the player's fees which, in conjunction to contributions from the room owners, would be used to engage professional players to give exhibitions, play challenge matches and give instruction at local league events. This will expose the league players to the professionals so that they will be able to personally identify with pro players and become their fans. It will also act as a much need source of additional income for pro players. Kind of like a speaker's circuit, and it will boost pool room revenues by having more exhibitions taking place around the country. Finally, it will expose many recreational players to what world-class play really is and potentially inspire them to play and practice more, or to at least follow the sport.

What do you guys think? If pool players, as a collective, can agree on concepts such as these, we can utilize our numbers to lobby the various organizations to adopt these ideas as policy and make a difference in the market and public perception of cue sports.

The Public Image of Billiards

Replies & Comments

  1. BishopA-Train on 8/1/2007 9:18:56 PM

    I honestly don't think it's the "image" of pool that makes it unattractive. It's just not an action packed game in the minds of the masses.

    Football, baseball, tennis, etc. are exciting to watch for most people.

    Most people aren't billiard enthusiasts. The poor souls.

  2. Bishopquickshot on 7/12/2008 7:57:03 PM

    I honestly believe that if the TV media gave more coverage to billiards it would help the sport. People watching it may at first glance think it is boring, but after a while they will appreciate the mental skills that go into the game.

    Unfortunately, over the years many billiard halls have closed down for what ever reason (e.g. lack of business) and people are not exposed to the sport except for what they see in bars.

    Like other sports, football, baseball etc., pool and billiards just does not have mass appeal (nor does it have a healthy appeal in the minds of many).

    I like to think it is making a comeback, but very slowly. Only time will tell, but for now, the sport needs more positive exposure.

  3. BishopJJFSTAR on 7/28/2008 8:11:54 PM

    Bishop if you ever try to get corporate sponsorship for a league or a tournament you will change your tune really quickly.

    Here in the USA pool is thought of as a seedy and cutthroat domain dominated by hustlers and gamblers.

    However, when you try to gain corporate sponsorship for a tournament in the Philippines, you don’t have to legitimize pool as a sport to the CEO.

    It is for this reason that we should stop the smoke screen we put up in front of the world and tell them that it took us practice, determination, patience and mental focus to get our game to the level that is today.

    In this way, the pool world shoots itself in the foot a million times everyday.

    If we explained what it really takes e.g. determination, focus and skill, then it would be better received. That would translate into more money in our pockets in the form of prize money and sponsorship for tournaments.

    Haven’t you ever seen The Music Man?

  4. BishopBHW on 8/4/2008 10:18:54 AM

    It's the image of the dark, smoky pool halls filled with shady characters that keeps most new people away.

    Whether this is a stereotype or not in your pool hall will vary from hall to hall.

    Until this image is changed, don't expect masses of casual new players to the sport. Expect even less of those who will eventually turn into fanatics.

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The Public Image of Billiards

  • Title: The Public Image of Billiards
  • Author: (Ryan Jones)
  • Published: 8/1/2007 10:59:28 AM