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When did the Men's Professional Billiards go Bad?

When did the Men's Professional Billiards go Bad?

Today is the day for idle ramblings of a guy with too little to do at work. Lucky YOU!

So I was thinking back to the day when the Mens pro tour was all that could be seen on TV. In the good old days it was Willie Masconni and Minasotta Fats on ABC. Then it progressed to the MPBA on ESPN. Now all that is on TV is the Women's pro tour.

Now for some of you it may be obvious as to why the men are no longer on TV for anything other than the Euro and trick tournaments. As I understand it the Mens tour split into 2 seperate groups and the league hasn't been the same ever since.

What is your take on Mens pro tour?

What do you think the sport should be doing to improve?

Some of the smartest moves by the WPBA was to align them selves with the APA. Now the professionals have the largest pool league in the nation behind them.

When did the Men's Professional Billiards go Bad?

Replies & Comments

  1. dlabouthomefried1 on 12/17/2008 9:13:38 AM

    Another movie the likes of The Hustler or The Color Of Money would revive the sport temporarially.

  2. dlaboutdlabout on 12/17/2008 9:18:38 AM

    The movies do help. In the case of the mens tour it is mostly due to in-fighting and the many seperate "professional" tours vs. a unified pro league.

  3. dlaboutquickshot on 12/17/2008 9:58:07 AM

    What is your take on Men's pro tour?

    What do you think the sport should be doing to improve?

    Some of the smartest moves by the WPBA was to align them selves with the APA. Now the professionals have the largest pool league in the nation behind them.

    I'm going to assume that you get paid while you ramble...that's a good thing.

    I don't think the powers to be are putting much money into promoting, advertising and marketing. There are too many organizations with their own ax to grind instead of setting up an umbrella organization to encompass the whole sport.

    If the MLB, NBA, PGA, NHL,NFL hadn't had the foresight and decided to stand together as one entity they to would be going south like the billiard industry.

    With the WPBA aligning with the APA it is a step in the right direction. Albeit, a very small step. The sport just has altogether too many fractional pieces to survive over the long haul. Right now it is barely doing that, and as we all know, once you break a dollar bill and it becomes fractional it seems to disappear in a blink.

  4. dlaboutdlabout on 12/17/2008 11:15:18 AM


    Yep still making money while on the ramble. Although, I burn the midnight oil sometimes too so it all works out.

    I think you are spot on with the billiard community. They can't seem to get past their petty fighting to make a single organization that will survive. The mens tour is now splintered to the point that there isn't a true champion. There are good players in both leagues and the only opportunity for them to compete is in the european tour. I think there have been some good steps to improving the compatition. The Masconni cup pits the best of Europe, Japan, and the US against each other. I just think from a spectator prospective that the US would be served better by a parent organization. The BCA has desolved down to a governing body for wholesalers. The largest promotion they do for our sport isn't even open to the public. The billiard Expo is for wholesalers to sell to pool halls and retailers.

    I believe ESPN partnered with the WPBA because it is very easy to crown a womens champ when they are the ONLY place for woman to compete in the US.

    Until the times get SO bad that the men are forced to combine for survival, I'm affraid we will have to live with the mess we have now.


  5. dlaboutquickshot on 12/17/2008 12:54:32 PM

    In line with the subject, the following is from Matt Sherman in his instructional piece on about.com:

    "One reason is that pool, unlike golf or tennis, has no farm system in place to rear or encourage aspiring players. Players are tight on what secrets they know and there remains no stable to groom young champs. And golf and tennis have thousands of teaching pros in place, with at least one lesson provider at every course, club and spa."

    With no public participation there will be no billiard sport left. As you mentioned, the sport is in a mess, and it will take a tremendous amount of effort and time by some entrepreneurs to put the sport back on track. I honestly believe it will take an outsider to see the sport from a different perspective.

  6. dlaboutbilliardsforum on 12/17/2008 1:21:47 PM

    Thats why snooker has been so successful - they are more united and unified than "billiards" - they have one "be all end all" competition each year, the Worlds, and they are very successful.

    So now that we've identified the problem - how can we/they resolve the situation?

  7. dlabouthomefried1 on 12/17/2008 4:00:52 PM

    Want to know when mens pro billiards fell apart? When the Clinton administration made it illegal for cigarette companies to sponsor any sporting events.

  8. dlaboutdlabout on 12/17/2008 4:50:21 PM

    homefried, I remember the days well. Back when the APA was sponsored by Busch beer then we out grew them and moved to Bud Light. Finally in we had Camel as a sponsor. Now the APA is on their own, but the corp sponsor did add something to the bottom line. Same is true of the Mens Pros. Other than table manufacturers and pool gadget sponsors there aren't many people looking to help get a unified tour together. The casinos from around the country are happy to host as a location but there really hasn't been any mainstream corp sponsors in years.

  9. dlaboutRic C on 12/17/2008 8:46:45 PM

    Things went bad when big business and the media decided to direct all of it's attention and formatting to appeal to young people and women. If you look at most of the advertising as well as the television shows today, you should pay very close attention to the ads they run. Just about all of them relate mostly to young people and women. I guess this is what our colleges are teaching the marketing grads today. Target the people who spend the most money and shove it down the viewers throats no matter how much they dislike it. Greed has taken a big part in broadcasting today. With all of the major men's tournaments taking place throughout the country they still show programs like "Trick shot billiards" which I think is a big waste of my time to even watch it. The most ridiculous billiard program I have ever watched. Let's face it, women are also in the spotlight because of these marketing researchers who started this whole stupid mess. Just where they get their statistics from I'll never know. I guess they interview all young people and women. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching women's billiards but not all the time. Marketing people, give the guys a break will you.

  10. dlaboutbilliardsforum on 12/17/2008 11:43:31 PM

    Ric - good call. I think you are right - things tend to be marketed toward young folks. (perhaps that includes me) The young folks either have access to their own disposable income, or have influence over their parents disposable income. You are probably thinking "well, if the parents or older folk have more disposable income, why not market to them?" Well, I think older folk are more experienced, and are probably much smarter with the dollar. Marketers see young folk as more vulnerable.

    Now -billiards on television probably is in the predicament of having to "accept" the condition that the network gets to choose the advertising.

    You have to make the distinction between the tv commercials (sold and chosen by the network) and the advertising in the billiard event (sold and chosen by the organizers of the event.) Perhaps if the sponsors who advertise in the event (age-neutral companies interested in simply selling billiard products) should shell a few more dollars and advertise with the networks.

    Now, I can say FROM EXPERIENCE that billiard companies, especially retailers, are VERY conservative (which might be a good thing) when it comes to advertising. That might be why the networks look elsewhere for advertisers to fill their tv commercials.

    Perhaps that's where the shift must occur? Please let me know your comments. I've very interested in advertising for billiards, since thats the sole source of income for this site. I try my hardest to keep non-billiard related advertising off the site, and it seems to me that the advertising that IS on the site is "age-neutral" - I would love to hear your thoughts!

  11. dlaboutquickshot on 12/18/2008 3:01:34 AM

    Marketing to the younger generation has always been the norm simply because they are the future that will keep the bucks rolling in. As people get older many become more conservative in their spending because they start thinking about their future and retirement, and that is where a lot of the disposable income is channeled. It is part of the survival instinct that begins to work its way into their monetary decisions. Sending the young pups off to college also has a large impact on disposable income. But, by and large its always been that way. Nothing ever changes it just seems that way. Who was it that said: "The more things change the more they stay the same."

  12. dlaboutbilliardsforum on 12/18/2008 12:45:51 PM

    @homefried1 - I totally missed this comment before I replied yesterday. With your comment you are essentially saying that the sole issue is lack of money coming in from advertisers. Is that what you are saying? If so, can you explain how more sponsor dollars would be used to elevate the sport?

  13. dlaboutMitch Alsup on 12/18/2008 7:44:07 PM

    @Homefried1 - Not quite correct: Cigarette companies CAN still sponsor events. They just cannot advertise at the events they sponsor. Which makes it highly unlikely that they WILL sponsor events.

    (Said without implying any negative implications towards cigarettes, the Clinton administration, sponsorship, or advertising)

  14. dlabouthomefried1 on 12/20/2008 9:07:42 AM

    Who is going to pay the prizes? Who is going to pay rent on places such as the Adams Mark hotel in Charlotte, NC where the world 9 ball championship was held around '97, if not sponsors?

    My pool hall had a qualifying tournament for the 10 ball open in Charlotte around that time. Michael Coltrane won, Ron Park finished second, and a fellow named Brady finished 3rd, but he was the high finishing amateur, and won the sponsorship. I went to the tournament, and took my son with me. They wouldn't let my son go in, because it was sponsored by Camel.

    NOW. Maybe sponsorship wouldn't elevate the sport, but stopping Camel from sponsoring DID put a kink in the Men's Pro Tour.

  15. dlaboutguest on 4/12/2009 5:40:10 PM

    The men's pro tour started to crumble when Allen Hopkins convinced the "guys" to not renew the contract with their then leader Jackie Mueller in CA., and let Don Mackey, the car salesman from Spring Hill, Fl. have a go at it. (remember, team play gets born then?) After totally dismantling the tour, he tried to take over "world pool" in Germany, being sent back to America, tail between his legs.(This is when the women pros leave the fold and get a new direction, SMART) His new house paid for in full by the guys we love, and purses left unpaid, he exits stage left! Then along comes Camel. NO passion for the game, money being the driving force behind their attention, (sound familiar?), they never even get it close to right. Then along comes Kevin Trudeau, getting pool lessons from none other than Mike Segal, You know, THE Kevin, in trouble with the Feds for infomercials that threaten prison and HUGE fines. His insatiable need for money causing him this dilemma, was witnessed in court by his doctor and others. This is all on record and available via the internet. Realizing the men have no leader, and quickly hatching a plan to bring him mega money, the men are set up yet again to be duped by yet another "leader". Their need for "the card" which allows them to participate in his future million dollar tourneys, at a cost of $2,000.00 per attempt, quickly nets him millions. His world-wide qualifier matches bring shame to the sport. Of course, the promised matches evaporated into air. Exit Kevin, stage left, next....

  16. dlaboutJustanotherevolutionary on 4/14/2009 8:21:58 PM

    Smaller the better. Really I don't understand, and never will, why people want billiards to become such a spectacle. I wrote this excact same sentance in another post somewhere lol. 1 good reason, that's all I ask.

  17. dlaboutMitch Alsup on 4/15/2009 9:39:25 AM

    Simply looking for THEIR 15 minutes...

  18. dlaboutquickshot on 4/15/2009 11:24:33 AM

    Every sport wants its place in the sun. Some have been there and are now in the shadows because of poor PR and management.

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When did the Men's Professional Billiards go Bad?

  • Title: When did the Men's Professional Billiards go Bad?
  • Author: (Doug Labout)
  • Published: 11/3/2008 12:38:01 PM