Pool on TV - a fantasy

BC21

Poolology
Gold Member
Silver Member
Yesterday I was at a 4th of July party, and up on the big screen was the annual Nathan's 4th of July hot dog eating competition in Coney Island. It was on ESPN. The winner, 12-time champion, ate 71 hotdogs in 10 minutes. He holds the world record at 74 hotdogs!

I watched this messy event, along with a party of others, and I couldn't help think, "ESPN shows this, but not professional pool."

Anyway, today I was browsing YouTube matches and came across a very good example of why I think pool died in major broadcasting.

This clip is from the IPT 2005 8ball King of the Hill Championship, Mike Sigel vs Efren Reyes. I watched 10 minutes of it and had already had enough of the bs commentating. There were 3 commentators, each taking turns making up rediculous things to say, so rediculous that about any pool player would recognize the stupidity. One of the commentators was a pro player, yet she chimes in with plenty of over-the-top dumbing down, I suppose for the benefit of non pool players watching the match at home. Just watch and listen for a couple of minutes beginning at 08:32. Keep in mind that when ESPN shows football, baseball, golf, or ANYTHING else, the commentators are not dumbing it down with too much explanation, not pretending a lucky occurrence is the result of miraculous skill, not inventing excuses for errors or making up historical facts to justify simple mistakes.

https://youtu.be/U_a2zMFGMQE?t=512s

I had had enough of it because I'm a player myself and I found the comments to be too annoying, so I put my tv on mute. But if I wasn't a player I think I would've changed the channel because the commentators give this false impression that what these pros are doing is just so incredible that no other pool players could do it. If I were an eager young man listening to these comments, thinking I'd like to learn how to play, I'd believe I'd say, "Damn, I'll never be that good!"

Does anyone else think that honest commentary, where mistakes are acknowledged and not glossed over with pure fantasy and excuses, would make televised pool more realistic, more down to earth for average viewers? Or is this old clip just a rare exception of poor commentating?
 

DecentShot

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Yesterday I was at a 4th of July party, and up on the big screen was the annual Nathan's 4th of July hot dog eating competition in Coney Island. It was on ESPN. The winner, 12-time champion, ate 71 hotdogs in 10 minutes. He holds the world record at 74 hotdogs!

I watched this messy event, along with a party of others, and I couldn't help think, "ESPN shows this, but not professional pool."

Anyway, today I was browsing YouTube matches and came across a very good example of why I think pool died in major broadcasting.

This clip is from the IPT 2005 8ball King of the Hill Championship, Mike Sigel vs Efren Reyes. I watched 10 minutes of it and had already had enough of the bs commentating. There were 3 commentators, each taking turns making up rediculous things to say, so rediculous that about any pool player would recognize the stupidity. One of the commentators was a pro player, yet she chimes in with plenty of over-the-top dumbing down, I suppose for the benefit of non pool players watching the match at home. Just watch and listen for a couple of minutes beginning at 08:32. Keep in mind that when ESPN shows football, baseball, golf, or ANYTHING else, the commentators are not dumbing it down with too much explanation, not pretending a lucky occurrence is the result of miraculous skill, not inventing excuses for errors or making up historical facts to justify simple mistakes.

https://youtu.be/U_a2zMFGMQE?t=512s

I had had enough of it because I'm a player myself and I found the comments to be too annoying, so I put my tv on mute. But if I wasn't a player I think I would've changed the channel because the commentators give this false impression that what these pros are doing is just so incredible that no other pool players could do it. If I were an eager young man listening to these comments, thinking I'd like to learn how to play, I'd believe I'd say, "Damn, I'll never be that good!"

Does anyone else think that honest commentary, where mistakes are acknowledged and not glossed over with pure fantasy and excuses, would make televised pool more realistic, more down to earth for average viewers? Or is this old clip just a rare exception of poor commentating?

As someone who vividly remembers the fiasco, and was around during the "qualifier" which was really like a world championship. I don't think the U.S. had been introduced to Alcano or Orcullo till the IPT. Anyway, this is really a matter of "consider the source." The whole thing was campy..on purpose. They even changed Sigel's nickname from "Captain Hook" to " Mike the Mouth." If for no other reason than to use the fame (at the time) of poker player Mike "the mouth" Matusow for the IPT's benefit.
Now as far as the commentating, it wasn't meant for me or you or guys like us. It was in theory meant for the soccer mom who doesn't know anything. But yes the style did devolve into something like a wild Japanese Game Show. Matt Vasgersian is the best terrible fake commentator I've ever heard, Baseball or Billiards. (I grew up with both games.)
 

BC21

Poolology
Gold Member
Silver Member
As someone who vividly remembers the fiasco, and was around during the "qualifier" which was really like a world championship. I don't think the U.S. had been introduced to Alcano or Orcullo till the IPT. Anyway, this is really a matter of "consider the source." The whole thing was campy..on purpose. They even changed Sigel's nickname from "Captain Hook" to " Mike the Mouth." If for no other reason than to use the fame (at the time) of poker player Mike "the mouth" Matusow for the IPT's benefit.
Now as far as the commentating, it wasn't meant for me or you or guys like us. It was in theory meant for the soccer mom who doesn't know anything. But yes the style did devolve into something like a wild Japanese Game Show. Matt Vasgersian is the best terrible fake commentator I've ever heard, Baseball or Billiards. (I grew up with both games.)

I heard that when Mike came out!! I thought, Mike Mouth?? Since when??!!

And the other one, Kevin Trudeau, has a bit of a swindler reputation anyway.

I guess, understanding that the show was primarily geared toward non pool players, my point is that maybe if ESPN had actually targeted pool players and potential pool players (like the millions of weekend bar bangers) they may have hit on a solid demographic, not as solid as football or baseball, but certainly competitive with bowling or tennis. I suppose for a while they did show a lot of WPBA events, and also trick shot competitions.
 

sixpack

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Yesterday I was at a 4th of July party, and up on the big screen was the annual Nathan's 4th of July hot dog eating competition in Coney Island. It was on ESPN. The winner, 12-time champion, ate 71 hotdogs in 10 minutes. He holds the world record at 74 hotdogs!

I watched this messy event, along with a party of others, and I couldn't help think, "ESPN shows this, but not professional pool."

Anyway, today I was browsing YouTube matches and came across a very good example of why I think pool died in major broadcasting.

This clip is from the IPT 2005 8ball King of the Hill Championship, Mike Sigel vs Efren Reyes. I watched 10 minutes of it and had already had enough of the bs commentating. There were 3 commentators, each taking turns making up rediculous things to say, so rediculous that about any pool player would recognize the stupidity. One of the commentators was a pro player, yet she chimes in with plenty of over-the-top dumbing down, I suppose for the benefit of non pool players watching the match at home. Just watch and listen for a couple of minutes beginning at 08:32. Keep in mind that when ESPN shows football, baseball, golf, or ANYTHING else, the commentators are not dumbing it down with too much explanation, not pretending a lucky occurrence is the result of miraculous skill, not inventing excuses for errors or making up historical facts to justify simple mistakes.

https://youtu.be/U_a2zMFGMQE?t=512s

I had had enough of it because I'm a player myself and I found the comments to be too annoying, so I put my tv on mute. But if I wasn't a player I think I would've changed the channel because the commentators give this false impression that what these pros are doing is just so incredible that no other pool players could do it. If I were an eager young man listening to these comments, thinking I'd like to learn how to play, I'd believe I'd say, "Damn, I'll never be that good!"

Does anyone else think that honest commentary, where mistakes are acknowledged and not glossed over with pure fantasy and excuses, would make televised pool more realistic, more down to earth for average viewers? Or is this old clip just a rare exception of poor commentating?

I agree with your assessment. I remember watching it at the time.

Pool is incredibly difficult to commentate. There is huge gap in understanding between people who play seriously and people who don't.

Maybe they should have split commentary tracks. One for newbs and one for serious players. The newb track could give information on the rules, maybe some color commentary about the players etc... but the expert track could have serious breakdowns of the strategy and thinking through the game. Similar to what we get from Jeremy Jones.

It's difficult because if you try to explain something to casual players the good players get vocal about it through the chat and if you cater to the good players the casual players lose interest and find something else to watch.

Strategy in most other games is far easier for people who don't play seriously to understand. Golf - hit it down the fairway, put it on the green, make a putt, miss and get par. If there's trouble you can see it. Oh no, he's got his ball sitting in a hole!

Bowling, football, basketball, all the same thing.

Hot dog eating too.

Not sure how to solve it. I think there are some streamers now that are doing a good job of balancing nuanced strategy commentary with basic commentary. (POVPOOL and OnTheWire are two I like) Generally having a color commentator with an expert commentator seems to be the best option so far.

In football they have one commentator who dumbs it down and connects with casual viewers and another that can break down the plays and strategy for people. But again, not hard to understand the strategy for anybody. Just throw the ball, run the ball, catch the ball, score.
 

BC21

Poolology
Gold Member
Silver Member
I agree with your assessment. I remember watching it at the time.

Pool is incredibly difficult to commentate. There is huge gap in understanding between people who play seriously and people who don't.

Maybe they should have split commentary tracks. One for newbs and one for serious players. The newb track could give information on the rules, maybe some color commentary about the players etc... but the expert track could have serious breakdowns of the strategy and thinking through the game. Similar to what we get from Jeremy Jones.

It's difficult because if you try to explain something to casual players the good players get vocal about it through the chat and if you cater to the good players the casual players lose interest and find something else to watch.

Strategy in most other games is far easier for people who don't play seriously to understand. Golf - hit it down the fairway, put it on the green, make a putt, miss and get par. If there's trouble you can see it. Oh no, he's got his ball sitting in a hole!

Bowling, football, basketball, all the same thing.

Hot dog eating too.

Not sure how to solve it. I think there are some streamers now that are doing a good job of balancing nuanced strategy commentary with basic commentary. (POVPOOL and OnTheWire are two I like) Generally having a color commentator with an expert commentator seems to be the best option so far.

In football they have one commentator who dumbs it down and connects with casual viewers and another that can break down the plays and strategy for people. But again, not hard to understand the strategy for anybody. Just throw the ball, run the ball, catch the ball, score.

Makes sense. But it just killed me to hear Loree Jon Jones agree with the 2 non players when they said that Efren purposely played that 5 off the 11. Or when they justified the miss on the 3 ball by saying the table was "traditional" with tight pockets, like Mosconi and Fats used to play on. Lol.
 

DecentShot

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I heard that when Mike came out!! I thought, Mike Mouth?? Since when??!!

And the other one, Kevin Trudeau, has a bit of a swindler reputation anyway.

I guess, understanding that the show was primarily geared toward non pool players, my point is that maybe if ESPN had actually targeted pool players and potential pool players (like the millions of weekend bar bangers) they may have hit on a solid demographic, not as solid as football or baseball, but certainly competitive with bowling or tennis. I suppose for a while they did show a lot of WPBA events, and also trick shot competitions.

"A bit." lol. He is a super swindler. He is so good, he knows he'll be caught, but the fines and threat of jail time never surpasses the con (i.e. a book of Cures they don't want you to know about.)
As far the popularity of the WPBA events, and I hope this doesn't ruffle feathers, but Allison Fisher in tight pants on loose pockets playing Karen "bazooka" Corr, was closer to Baywatch than the DCC.
 

BC21

Poolology
Gold Member
Silver Member
"A bit." lol. He is a super swindler. He is so good, he knows he'll be caught, but the fines and threat of jail time never surpasses the con (i.e. a book of Cures they don't want you to know about.)
As far the popularity of the WPBA events, and I hope this doesn't ruffle feathers, but Allison Fisher in tight pants on loose pockets playing Karen "bazooka" Corr, was closer to Baywatch than the DCC.

All true!! Very much.:thumbup:
 

JazzyJeff87

AzB Plutonium Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
It’s funny you posted this now. I happened on this video this morning and though the same thing. I definitely chuckled during the “traditional conditions” comment and caught that 3 off the 11.

The whole thing was bizarre. The smoke and entrances and all. I watched the one with efren and Rodney too. Some IPT I remember had a graphic on the table saying things like “pool is a sport again” or something in that vein. It was definitely cool though that some players made good money and a few made big dollas. Just a strange attempt and TVizing
 

PoolBum

Ace in the side.
Silver Member
I don't doubt that more Americans would prefer to watch Joey Chestnut eat 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes, than watch the world's greatest pool players.
 

BC21

Poolology
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Silver Member
I don't doubt that more Americans would prefer to watch Joey Chestnut eat 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes, than watch the world's greatest pool players.

Sad but true. But who doesn't like a good hotdog? And I have to admit, at his initial pace I thought he was going to break his world record of 74. Looked like he was on track to hit 80 or more.
 

AtLarge

AzB Gold Member
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... I don't think the U.S. had been introduced to Alcano or Orcullo till the IPT. ...

Part of the US met Alcano well before the IPT. He finished in the top 4 a dozen times, including 5 wins, on the Joss Tour in a 5-month period during the 2002-2003 season.
 

Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
Silver Member
The IPT actually did many Things right. They focused on 8 ball,which every person understands. They had many matches and switched Focus between them to Select only the interesting bits. The commentary was braindead for all of IPT, thanks to KT insisting on commentating himself, among other boneheaded Choices, like focusing so much on the Equipment. The "King of the hill" concept was stupid, but I Guess it was the only way to get an American in the finals (at that time). Even so, I think this detracted a lot from the action. Had that finals been a hard fougth Battle, going hill-hill, it would have been a lot more interesting to watch.

After the above criticism, this may sound weird, but realistically I don't think it could have been done much better. TV Networks notoriously underestimate the general Public and it's not a habit they're getting out of any time soon. I think the Equipment Choices were overall wise, and shows that an actual player had a hand in it, also the Choice of 8 ball as the discipline was clever, and not something I think the Networks would have come up With on their own. Pool had this as its last chance. Now we're doomed.
 

gxman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
US Open, World Pool Masters, etc being shown on facebook, sub 5000 viewers.

Nothing is shown on tv with that viewership.
 

one stroke

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't doubt that more Americans would prefer to watch Joey Chestnut eat 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes, than watch the world's greatest pool players.
I don't doubt it one bit and then after that was over watch the corn hole nationals that followed it ,,, who wouldn't want to watch that I would ,, wait a minute I did


1
 

garczar

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
As far as the networks are concerned pool is deader than Hula Hoop. The future of televised pool will be on-line streams. I would love to see pool as popular as snooker and Chinese 8-ball and get some type of network involved but i just don't see it anytime soon. I like supporting the independent streamers anyway. Good folks who love the game.
 

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
Silver Member
Eating competitions were popular as far back as the seventeenth century, where they were common at English County Fairs. They spread elsewhere, but competitive eating has long captured people's imagination, just not quite like today.

People are always drawn to competition when it offers a chance to see the greatest, or potentially greatest, ever. Baseball had little fanfare until Babe Ruth arrived. NBA ratings skyrocketed when LeBron James joined the league. Serena Williams did the same for women's tennis.

In competitive eating, Takeru Kobayashi emerged as the greatest competitive eater at the Nathan's hotdog eating competitions of the first years of this century, and people were drawn to him. He looked unbeatable until Joey Chestnut came along in 2007 and beat him, and Chestnut has now surpassed Kobayashi as the greatest ever. Was it the hot dog eating alone that drew people? Probably not, as Coney Island in Brooklyn has been a July 4 hotspot for about a century, drawing people with the greatest of ease. The hotdog eating contest was a minor event but grew and grew in prestige, but it had piggybacked something that was already going on in Coney Island.

Count me among the many who love watching the Nathan's contest. Is it a sport? Probably not, but ESPN was created in 1979 as the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, and hotdog eating is, indeed, entertainment. Hence, it cannot be concluded that hotdog eating or the Scripps Spelling Bee, so often cited on this forum, are a sport selected by ESPN over pool.

Creating a buzz over the very best is the optimal path to gaining attention, and pool has, on average, failed to accomplish this. Who among us will forget how Trudeau, in his commentary, suggested that Reyes was scoring an upset victory over Sigel when they met in an IPT final in which Sigel had been given a bye all the way to the final? Not just nonsense, but a lost opportunity to celebrate the fact that we were watching a player that most of us already considered the greatest player ever, and one who might polarize viewers if correctly marketed.
 
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DecentShot

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Part of the US met Alcano well before the IPT. He finished in the top 4 a dozen times, including 5 wins, on the Joss Tour in a 5-month period during the 2002-2003 season.

And the Beatles played small clubs before the Met.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
... Does anyone else think that honest commentary, where mistakes are acknowledged and not glossed over with pure fantasy and excuses, would make televised pool more realistic, more down to earth for average viewers? Or is this old clip just a rare exception of poor commentating?
Snooker commentators are not gentle about mistakes. Snooker commentators are often former world champions who speak well. Some of them have funny accents, but most of those I find charming -- I imagine that all of them would pronounce "Efren" name with an "N" sound.;) Often the snooker commentators give useful technical insights into what is going on.

Maybe snooker is doing something right.
 
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