Four Contributors To The Death Of Pool

David Marcus

"not bad,for a blind man"
Silver Member
Interesting article that I thought was worth sharing.


Four Contributors To The Death Of Pool

Pool will die unless we fix this sport
By Matthew Sherman, Billiards Expert

I love this post I found online by Johnny Henson of Baker, Montana. Here it is shared, warts and all. I'm all in as one of Henson's suggested reality show instructors!

Here are a few ideas that I feel could benefit billiards. I feel that billiards should be a high school sport with good instructors at the high school level. I feel that there should be a reality show in which 8 instructors are given 4 low level players of equal ability, 2 men and 2 women. They have one week to train their team. You play a match. The winning teams and instructors move on. Each week a team and their instructor are eliminated. Players nationwide will see the players progressing each week. This will encourage players to seek instruction on their own.

I would like to see 20 major cities put together a 10 player team league each. Have Eastern and Western divisions. 10 matches per week. 100 matches per season. Have matches played in pool halls through out the USA. Matches in all 50 states to broaden the fan base. Have the playoffs on YouTube and ESPN. Just some thoughts.

Johnny is so right and his proposal reminds me of the TK Pool Tour concept I developed with U.S. Open winner, Tom Kennedy. Henson's proposal is also eerily similar to discussions I've had with top pool teacher Dominic Esposito.
Esposito provides frequent billiards drills and lessons here at About.com.

Pocket billiards cannot hold a mere status quo. Like all other participant sports, it has to grow or it will die. Here are the obvious issues as I see them:

* As long as many poolrooms in the U.S. and overseas are also bars where alcohol is served, young people, high school age and under, will avoid the game. Today's fine young players are tomorrow's great new pros. As long as pool halls are also bars-cum-nightclubs and pickup joints, pool will be dying.

* The majority of avid pool players want a smoke free environment to play in. While I don't overly mind smoking in many places such as restaurants and clubs, blown smoke easily soaks into pool table cloth, makes it hard to see the shots in smoky rooms, and most halls are too cheap to provide effective dispersal of smoke via quality ceiling exhausts. Studies and pop polls have demonstrated that even most smokers would rather go outside for an occasional smoke than play in a smoky room. As long as pool rooms smell like ashtrays, pool will be dying.

* It is intolerable to have to give a pool lesson in a room with music blaring. It is awful to have play league games in loud rooms where players cannot hear game scores, called shots or team coaching. As long as room owners are more worried about a few quarters than player sanity, and thus have loud jukeboxes blaring (usually lousy) music in their rooms, pool will be dying.

* Henson's original point, of course, is that players need to develop via lessons. Every golf club, public and private in the United States, has at least one golf pro and likely several assistant pros ready to step up and give lessons. Everyone who has played golf a year or longer has likely taken more than one lesson or a whole series of beginner lessons. This fact remains despite recent reverses in golf's fortunes as a sport overall. Every tennis club likewise has pros who give lessons. Pool has complexities that rival the fanciest golf and tennis shots. Formerly, most every pool hall in the world had a "house man" who would show new players the ropes, give aid on rule disputes, demonstrate the basics and advanced shots, etc. As long as pool players avoid lessons and rely on occasional books or videos to adjust their personal stance, aim and stroke needs, pool will be dying as a sport.

Change these factors! Help save pool as a vital sport.
 
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King T

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Well said!

Lots of good points, but who's up to the task? Pool needs corporate help..., $$$$
 

Celtic

AZB's own 8-ball jihadist
Silver Member
Lots of good points, but who's up to the task? Pool needs corporate help..., $$$$

That is a non-starter.

No one is going to come along and throw millions of dollars at pool, when pool itself has no clue what direction it should even go or how to generate interest in the product and getting people to watch.

Pool does not even know what game to focus on, should it be 10-ball? 9-ball? 8-ball? Bonus Ball? It cannot be a smorgasbord of games, it needs to pick one, market it, focus attention on it, create a tour based around it, and get people interested in watching it and perhaps playing it.

Pool does not know what table specs should be. Some organizations are going exclusively bar box. Fans clamor over wanting 9-foot action. Many people think tables should have tight cut pockets to challenge the pros and make the cream rise to the top, others think the pockets should be large allowing for lots of runouts and fast paced offensive action.

We have the English and Australians playing 2-shot 8-ball on tiny tables, we have China bringing out a new pool game of 8-ball on 9-foot tables with tight snooker cut pockets and pool sized balls, and they are getting former world snooker pros and pool pros alike playing in their events atm.

Pool has no clue who should run things.

We have a world tournament organization that states they are "the" international authority of pool and sanctions events, but they cannot even get events to run half of the time with world championships being missed in any given year and issues with events they have sanctions popping up periodically.

We have an organization running the "world" 14.1 championships and claiming it is the continuation of a former world straight pool event they had absolutely nothing to do with.

We have a US Open 9-ball event being the biggest event in the USA and possibly the longest running professional event out there, and every year it is fraught with issues, non-payment to players, player association boycotts, clamor about requirements for prize money to be put into escrow and out of the reaches of the actual promoter.

Who in their right mind is going to throw millions of dollars into this sport given it's current state? I love pool and if I were a billionaire I sure as shit would not. This whole sport atm is a bloody gong show, a entire mess, and no one in their right mind is going to come in and throw in money expecting it to fix anything. 5 million dollars thrown into pool in it's current state would result in something much similar to throwing that money into a shredder.

No one is coming to rescue this sport with a giant donation. If pool players and pool fans want this sport to turn around, if they want it to start to see improvements, they need to actually start to see proper positive changes and a vastly increased focus on the key issues in this sport being addressed. IF pool players and pool fans and a single smart organization can start something very specific and get people on board and present an actual potential business model for a single direction product that will be THE future of professional pool, than you are at a good starting point.

Only AFTER this sport can figure it's shit out will a potential sponsor actually think about putting some money into the sport, and they will be doing so only because they think that it is in their own best interests to be associated with the product.

Right now having your name attached to pool is not worth $0.02, in fact most products would probably not choose to associate to most of the BS in this sport for free. Do you think a soda company wants to be associated to the US Open 9-ball and all that BS that spews from that event each year? Do you think a airline wants to be associated with the world straight pool event and all of the ghosts in the closet of the man that runs those events is hiding?

Daddy Warbucks is not coming to save the day Pool, you are going to have to actually work on doing that yourself.
 

dnschmidt

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Pool is Dead Already

You seemed to have missed the funeral. It's not dying, it's dead. Nothing is going to cause a resurrection. When the pool halls died and the bars took over the game died with them. Pool is now an activity used to kill time between drinks or pick up attempts. It's days as a sport or game are over.
 

Colin Colenso

<-- My Kids
Silver Member
Four Contributors To The Death Of Pool

Pool will die unless we fix this sport - Photo courtesy of Getty Images
By Matthew Sherman, Billiards Expert

I love this post I found online by Johnny Henson of Baker, Montana. Here it is shared, warts and all. I'm all in as one of Henson's suggested reality show instructors!
This is laughable... talk about myopic vision.

The writer, obviously an instructor, sees pool's solution as an instructor's dream world, where government provides jobs for instructors in schools and pool halls turn their businesses into training clinics for instructors. I'd assume he'd expect access to these facilities free of charge, because all that instruction is gonna revolutionize the game.... hmmm.. somehow. And naturally, TV production of the sport, via reality shows, would have instructors as the stars. LOL

Not sure what game... one of those breaking competition games I assume, that no one wants to watch on TV.

The elephant in the room is the product.
 

pk249

Registered
Two things pool needs in my opinion:
(i) a single, unified, global governing body which is recognised by all domestic Federations with the reach and capability to properly harmonise the sport;
(ii) a professional Tour in the USA not dissimilar perhaps to the EuroTour; both being a precursor to a future Global Tour.

The sport should look to Snooker and Barry Hearn / Matchroom if you ask me. Winner of this year's World Snooker Championship (Stuart Bingham) earned $500k, and that's only one tournament. Total prize money for the same tournament was $2.5m.
 

DJ14.1

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think the best shot at improving the game long-term centers around cultivating interest from teenagers and pre-teens. Pool is incredibly fascinating to kids at that age, as are other sports. We need get a bigger slice of the adolescent athletic pie moving toward pool, and create an environment that supports that. If we have success there, I think alot of the other major problems we complain about every day in our sport will start to work themselves out (money, TV coverage, etc.). Gotta plant more trees.
 

pk249

Registered
I agree DJ, but for me it comes back to a Governing Body which regulates the sport properly and effectively. Only when we have this will we entice investment from sponsors etc, the proceeds from which we can then invest in youth development and marketing, prize money etc. Still perceived as a hustling sport in many parts of the world.
 

Quesports

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Last week was sign up night at our local pool hall. The league players are signing up and playing pool for $5.00for the night. Around 10:30 pm the owner must have wanted us all to leave he turned up the music so loud we could not talk to each other while we were playing. You had to literally shout, at 10:40 pm I left.. Good luck saving pool!
 

Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
The last survey I saw (2013) indicated 34 million participants with 11 millionish core participants (more than 25 times per year). Now these numbers are much reduced from when we had over 60 million players and certainly reflects that the game is on hard times, but calling it dead is hyperbolic to say the least. If the game is dead, then we have a very lifelike zombie walking around.

I agree with Celtic, expecting or asking for a major sponsor to come in right now is very backwards. We need a product and we need bums in seats. Although based on the survey data we technically have the numbers as far as participants are concerned, they aren't paying much or any attention to the game as a sport.

Create a product, draw an audience and sponsors will come. Obviously it's easier said than done though.

However in order to create self sustaining product at the moment, we may need to abandon the idea that every pro tournament should have 20-50,000 dollar purses if these events are money losers. Pro events don't seem to provide that kind of value, unless you ramp up entry fees to 1,000-1,500 per player.
 

Dave

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Last week was sign up night at our local pool hall. The league players are signing up and playing pool for $5.00for the night. Around 10:30 pm the owner must have wanted us all to leave he turned up the music so loud we could not talk to each other while we were playing. You had to literally shout, at 10:40 pm I left.. Good luck saving pool!

Ours is a much slower death... perhaps more painful.
Jillian's in Boston, has a 8 ball league. We play there, as it's the only game in town. The equipment is in sad shape, the tables and balls are difficult to abide.... haven't been cleaned in year and the cloth is threadbare as well. I have the urge to take a shower when I leave. Rails are dead and pockets are loose. Don't try to slow roll a shot, as you may find yourself in a dream state thinking you're next door at Fenway Park and trying to hit a curve ball thrown by Pedro Martinez.

Don't get me started... or, :-] thanks for allowing me to vent!

I'm not sure of their business model, but customer satisfaction is not in their lexicon.

I hope management reads this, but I doubt they'd do anything but chuckle.
 
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Tramp Steamer

One Pocket enthusiast.
Silver Member
You seemed to have missed the funeral. It's not dying, it's dead. Nothing is going to cause a resurrection. When the pool halls died and the bars took over the game died with them. Pool is now an activity used to kill time between drinks or pick up attempts. It's days as a sport or game are over.

This right here is the honest to God truth. When my hometown poolroom changed it's name to a Sports Bar and Grill, you could see the writing on the men's room wall. Goodbye pool tournaments, hello drinking tournaments.
Also, all this hyperbole about corporate sponsorship, world wide players associations, and media participation, is a bunch of hooey. Search the archives. We've been over this, and over this, time and time, again.
And, if you think leagues are going to save the day, you're crazy. Today's league players are tomorrows bowling team.
 

jasonlaus

Rep for Smorg
Silver Member
Who's going to pay for this? Poolrooms, bars, clubs etc dont make their $$$ from serious players.
The great thing about this country is you can put your money where your mouth is.
Good luck
Jason
 

spktur

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Interesting article that I thought was worth sharing.


Four Contributors To The Death Of Pool

Pool will die unless we fix this sport
By Matthew Sherman, Billiards Expert

I love this post I found online by Johnny Henson of Baker, Montana. Here it is shared, warts and all. I'm all in as one of Henson's suggested reality show instructors!

Here are a few ideas that I feel could benefit billiards. I feel that billiards should be a high school sport with good instructors at the high school level. I feel that there should be a reality show in which 8 instructors are given 4 low level players of equal ability, 2 men and 2 women. They have one week to train their team. You play a match. The winning teams and instructors move on. Each week a team and their instructor are eliminated. Players nationwide will see the players progressing each week. This will encourage players to seek instruction on their own.

I would like to see 20 major cities put together a 10 player team league each. Have Eastern and Western divisions. 10 matches per week. 100 matches per season. Have matches played in pool halls through out the USA. Matches in all 50 states to broaden the fan base. Have the playoffs on YouTube and ESPN. Just some thoughts.

Johnny is so right and his proposal reminds me of the TK Pool Tour concept I developed with U.S. Open winner, Tom Kennedy. Henson's proposal is also eerily similar to discussions I've had with top pool teacher Dominic Esposito.
Esposito provides frequent billiards drills and lessons here at About.com.

Pocket billiards cannot hold a mere status quo. Like all other participant sports, it has to grow or it will die. Here are the obvious issues as I see them:

* As long as many poolrooms in the U.S. and overseas are also bars where alcohol is served, young people, high school age and under, will avoid the game. Today's fine young players are tomorrow's great new pros. As long as pool halls are also bars-cum-nightclubs and pickup joints, pool will be dying.

* The majority of avid pool players want a smoke free environment to play in. While I don't overly mind smoking in many places such as restaurants and clubs, blown smoke easily soaks into pool table cloth, makes it hard to see the shots in smoky rooms, and most halls are too cheap to provide effective dispersal of smoke via quality ceiling exhausts. Studies and pop polls have demonstrated that even most smokers would rather go outside for an occasional smoke than play in a smoky room. As long as pool rooms smell like ashtrays, pool will be dying.

* It is intolerable to have to give a pool lesson in a room with music blaring. It is awful to have play league games in loud rooms where players cannot hear game scores, called shots or team coaching. As long as room owners are more worried about a few quarters than player sanity, and thus have loud jukeboxes blaring (usually lousy) music in their rooms, pool will be dying.

* Henson's original point, of course, is that players need to develop via lessons. Every golf club, public and private in the United States, has at least one golf pro and likely several assistant pros ready to step up and give lessons. Everyone who has played golf a year or longer has likely taken more than one lesson or a whole series of beginner lessons. This fact remains despite recent reverses in golf's fortunes as a sport overall. Every tennis club likewise has pros who give lessons. Pool has complexities that rival the fanciest golf and tennis shots. Formerly, most every pool hall in the world had a "house man" who would show new players the ropes, give aid on rule disputes, demonstrate the basics and advanced shots, etc. As long as pool players avoid lessons and rely on occasional books or videos to adjust their personal stance, aim and stroke needs, pool will be dying as a sport.

Change these factors! Help save pool as a vital sport.

Try opening a business without food, alcohol, music and smoking and see how ;ong you last. The world is out there, go for it, open you a poolroom and rent tables and see how you do. The welfare office is waiting for you
 

buckshotshoey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Even the few that responded can't agree on a fix. Concentrating on one game will not do. How boring it would be if 9 ball was all you played. Or 8 ball. Or one pocket. Whatever.

Or one governing body. There's nothing wrong with the "more then one way to do it" approach.
I enjoy playing under different rule sets. I like playing APA, and Valley. Saying all things need to be done the same sounds, well, socialist. I prefer to have many choices.

Bars are, I believe, are a necessary evil for pool right now. It does keep younger players away, but hey, its not the responsibility of the business owner to even give a damn. They need profit.
Pool halls can't stay afloat because pool players are cheap. "75 cents a game is too much. They should open the tables for us".

But pool is not dead. It is alive and kicking. Pool is right where it is supposed to be. It is like an old airplane. Left neglected and unused, it will deteriorate. Maintained properly, it will fly practically forever. But the answer is very simple. The answer is very clear......

Private billiard rooms. Don't rely on bars. The formula is rather simple.
100 people paying 20 a month dues. 4 or 6 tables is all that is necessary for 100 people.
It shouldn't be that difficult to keep something that small running for 2000 a month, utilities property taxes, and all.....with a small profit likely! If membership brings their own food and drink, no permits (at least for those two areas) will be necessary. Vending machines can be brought in. Members take turns cleaning the place.

Thats just a few of the benefits. The biggest benefit is the owners (membership) care about he sport of pool. Youngsters can be allowed in to play at certain times. The club can donate table time to high school billiard teams.

Any insulated building with two bathrooms will do. I'm sure there are codes that have to be met that I forgot to mention but you get my point. It could be done fairly easy. You can have a serious billiard facility for serious pool players. You can deny membership to known troublemakers. You remove the bar scene from the picture. Young people can become junior members.

Pool and pool players win in so many ways. If I had the means to start a club, I'd do it in a minute.
 

Type79

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Many Excelent Points of View

There are many good points raised in this thread and I will not repeat them, but only add for emphasis what is most important to me.

9' tables - I have no interest in playing on bar boxes. Not looking for a debate, but for me, it isn't pool.

Music - The greatest single distraction and annoyance is the music in certain rooms. I will accept any type of music but when the level is such that it is difficult to speak or concentrate, it is a distraction and an disincentive to stay or even return.
 

336Robin

Multiverse Operative
Gold Member
Silver Member
The Pool Conundrum

Ive played around with the Pool Conundrum for some time and talked to a lot of people about it.

Pool has a lifecycle like everything else. One day you are pupae and eventually you grow into a butterfly and one day you don't play much anymore.

For what I have seen its key to move new people into it whether or not they get pool instruction or not, there is a lot that is free online and that would be much more than has ever been available in the past.

When room owners devote some emotional energy into the thought of.....How can I get new people into this room....for that owner I have to believe things will start to slowly change for the better because you are addressing the natural flow of people in and people out.

Not everyone that you recruit will make a pool player some might want to throw darts, drink craft beer and chill in front of the big screen but New People have the promise of people that might very well learn to play.

Many of us have interests in this, instructors, pool writers, room owners, manufacturers and nothing is more solid than the one rule that governs it all and that is.....If it doesn't work out financially in pool it will not exist.

When room owners are concerned about recruitment, that is when American Pool will turn the corner.

The Room Owner is the center of the pool universe and each of us should be concerned about his making sense of the business. Without the room owner pool is a memory. So instead of taking from his pocket, we should be demanding a value from him and when that is delivered rewarding his effort with our business.

Just my two cents worth.
 

buckshotshoey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Good point. That's why private rooms and clubs make sense. They made financial sense in Europe,
they make financial sense here in US. And pool is much better off there because of it. Well one of the reasons anyway.
I agree playing on a 9 foot is preferable, to you and me. What about a lady that's 5 foot 4 in? Her preferences might differ from yours and mine. In large cities, you might be able to run a 3 cushion only private room? Its open for exploring.
 
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