for some, winning is everything. but how far do you go to win, and what is too far?
some pool players have this all-consuming desire to win. if you’re a pro, the pressure to win is considerable; if you don’t win, you don’t get no bacon. does that excuse the slightly underhanded, morally nebulous tactics?
for example, rewind back to the 2008 men’s generationpool.com 9-ball tournament. (i think it was called bca open back then.) specifically, the televised semifinal match between archer and ronnie wiseman. yeah, espn had played the match numerous times, but every time i watch it i can’t help but feel a little queasy.
keep in mind that this was a televised, refereed match; steve tipton was the referee. in the middle of the match, wiseman got out of shape, and left the cueball about 1/2 inch away from the five-ball, his next object ball. wiseman studied the shot for a bit. with steve tipton near him, wiseman elevated his cue to shoot. before wiseman could pull the trigger . . .
. . . archer actually walked toward wiseman and tipton, interrupted the shot, and asked if the cueball was frozen to the five ball.
again, this was a televised, refereed match. the referee was standing two feet away looking at the shot. there was no need for archer to ask the ref whether the balls were frozen or not. and even if archer really wanted to call for the referee’s attention, he could’ve done it WHILE wiseman was studying the shot, not when he was about to shoot it. it seemed a pretty blatant case of sharking. doubts? let’s go to the video. fast forward to the 2:00 mark if you’re impatient.
now, i understand that a world champion’s drive to win is second to none, but this was way out of line. although archer apologized immediately after, wiseman commented that the damage was done. indeed it was; archer had already robbed wiseman of his concentration with the antics. although wiseman ended up winning the match, i think archer had himself inked a black mark on his otherwise stellar career.
of course, you can argue that archer didn’t try to shark ronnie, he was just checking the shot, a win is a win, no one cares how you win, and history doesn’t remember losers. but can you live with yourself? what is enough? what is going too far?
archer was, and is, one of the greatest pool champions that ever lived, and this was just one of many tournaments that he’s played in his distinguished record. but it’s hard for me to forget this. and i hope i’ll have enough sense not to make the same bad choice if i’m in the same situation.