this is the fifth volume of pool synergy. welcome back, and thanks for reading this post.
the topic for volume V is “Pool and the Mainstream”.
for the main page of volume V, visit the link below. it contains a list of all the posts on this month’s topic.
also, visit the link below for a complete list of pool synergy’s monthly topics.
below is my post for this month. enjoy.
a little primer before we start.
this particular post is probably not agreeable with many people, but i feel the need to state this opinion, regardless of its popularity. you can read my previous posts for slightly more detailed analyses on this topic. click here and here.
as is my habit, i like to define terms before i delve into details, so we are on the same page. now if by saying “mainstream”, you mean mainstream everyday life, then i think pool is either already mainstream, or well on its way. countless people hit the bars after work every day and play a few racks of bar table 8-ball. many home owners buy pool tables for their game rooms. that’s quite common. if “mainstream” means “U.S. mainstream media” or “national media”, then my opinion is quite different. (i won’t attempt to dissect pool’s image in other countries, since i’m not familiar with them at all. the only thing i know is that snooker is popular in UK, and billiards is popular in europe & parts of asia.)
in my opinion, pool is not part of the U.S. mainstream media. i don’t think there is an “and” relationship between pool and U.S. mainstream media. i think many people in the pool industry are trying their darnedest to put pool into U.S. mainstream media, but they have their work cut out for them. pool, unfortunately, already has a stigma attached to her, one that’s not easily washed off. you can make the argument that pool is seen on national tv. however, i think pool matches are shown more as a curio, much like timbersports or lumberjack games, instead of must-watch, blockbuster events like the super bowl, the nba finals, US open golf, or even tennis finals like wimbledon or US open tennis. poker is probably more mainstream than pool media-wise, judging by coverages of poker events versus pool tournaments.
personally, i think there is too much distrust in the pool community. too much ego strutting. too much selfishness. and when an opportunist comes along to make a quick buck, those feelings are further reinforced. (gee, is the ipt still around?) how can pool players unite under a common banner, when that banner is distrust and ego? another case in point: the men pros blew the sponsorship from camel cigarettes. cigarettes. tobacco money. deep, abyssal pockets. how do the men pros expect to attract new sponsors when they can’t keep one as wealthy as a billion-dollar tobacco company?
although the wpba stands as the lone example that it’s possible to have a successful, unified front, the rest of the U.S. pool world do not, and cannot, follow suit. i understand that there are many regional tours all over the country, but being regional, they do not muster enough juice to appear in mainstream. also, since people are creatures of habit, they’re not likely to equate the U.S. Open 9-ball final with the likes of super bowl or major boxing events. in fact, you’re likely to get a “huh?” when you say “U.S. Open 9-ball” to the average folk.
also, in pool, there is a distinct lack of a financial future. unless you’re on the manufacturing end, the likelihood of a pool player making a decent living solely on pool tournaments and gambling is abysmal. the problem: it’s not steady. you’re not guaranteed any pay when you play in a tournament or gamble for cash. you may have a hot streak for a few years, but eventually you’ll win less, until you don’t win at all. and unlike jobs, pool tournaments don’t carry insurance or 401k’s. neither do gambling matches. when you don’t win consistently, how will you make your bread? it’s little wonder that when a savvy pool player wins a big tournament, he/she scurries off lickety split to open a pool hall (or other businesses), knowing the need for steady income.
i read some pro players’ blogs from time to time. it really pains me to read the struggles in the pool world, one where you have to be one of the very best just to make a livable coin. not rich, just livable income. placing 32nd in a tournament? here’s your $1000 (or less). now go and live on that for a month. placed out of cash? hard cheese, mate, best o’ luck next time, and you better get crackalackin’ on more tournaments pronto. that or you better find someone willing to lose to you in private matches most rikki tik, cuz you got rent to pay. is that a realistic way to make a living?
pool as a recreational hobby? sure, it’s mainstream or very close to it. pool as a viable source of income with mainstream U.S. media presence?
let’s postpone that discussion until 2110.