Monday, November 22, 2010
So I'm coming up on the end of this tour...well into the final quarter of the time here. The count is at 77 days and a wake up. Close enough that it's tantalizingly close, yet far enough away still to be discouraging. Especially when it's groundhog day out here. Kind of feel like this when I wake up in the morning:
Me in the morning
With that being said, when I get back to the states, it's going to be a whirlwind of activity from February, until sometime in the summer. The reason is this: I've been at Ft. Gordon now for about 3.5 years. That's 6 months longer than they really like keeping people anywhere. By the time I'm done there, I will have served 4 years there. It's time for me to move.
I have a couple options available to me as far as where my next duty assignment will be. One is better for the career, one is someplace that I've been trying to get to for 7 years, and it's finally available to me. The former is out in Texas, the latter is out in England.
So here are the pros/cons to each (for me):
Pros - I have lots of friends out in Texas. The job will be outstanding for my career progression as it stands right now. I'll be able to buy a house when I get out there and establish some equity. I will still, for relatively cheap, fly back to CT to visit the family types, and the cottage.
Cons - The job is going to entail dealing with Soldiers who are not yet qualified on their job. They are in training status, and there is a ton of red tape and politicking that takes place in TRADOC units. (Traning and Doctrine Command). The Soldiers go out of their way sometimes to get their instructors and leadership in trouble. I'm not to scared of that last part, but it's there non-the less. San Angelo isn't exactly the hotbed of activity...though I am only 3 hours away from Austin and San Antonio, and 4 hours away from Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Pros - It's where I've been trying to get for the past 7 years. Where I'll be (North Yorkshire) will be only about 1.5 hours away from Newcastle, (I'm a huge Newcastle United supporter). The pool scene in England is doing nothing but growing the past few years from what I understand. It's the last time in my career, most likely, that I'll be able to actually do my job and not be a paper pusher. I'll be able to tour Europe on long weekends for pretty cheap.
Cons - don't know anyone out there for the most part. I would have a hard time taking my truck over there (it's a full sized pick-up truck). It's not a very good career move, as far as career progression goes, but there are other options available as well. It's going to cost an arm and a leg to get home. (close to 1200 round trip).
I'm only about 70% sure of where I would like to go. But I might as well be at 50% sure. So, with that being said, I wanted to see what everyone here has to say about it. Someone just may bring up a great point that I haven't thought about yet. Who knows...but I won't unless you tell me! So please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
On a completely different note, I've added a couple of pages to my blog. One of them is the obligatory "about me" page (I am what I am), and the other is the blog list that I had on the front page. I've expanded it even more...the only difference is you cannot tell which blogs have been updated most recently. I wish there were a widget that I could use on that particular page to do that, but I don't think it will let me. Hope the Thanksgiving Holiday treats everyone well and you all eat plenty of turkey; passing out on the couch while watching New Orleans put the whoopin on Dallas.
till next time!
Monday, November 15, 2010
It’s the 15th once again and time for this month’s installment of PoolSynergy! Since this is the 13th edition, and the one year anniversary of this Blog-Carnival, the originator of PS, Mr. John Biddle is hosting. The topic this month, you ask? Three tips that will help your pool game. Bloggers will be offering up three tips on various subjects in, around, and totally outside the pool hall that could help you improve your game.
I’m going to stay out of the pool hall for this one myself, for a couple of reasons. First, I’m really not in a place where I can shoot pool. Secondly, the topic that I chose fits in with what I’ve been doing with myself recently, (see my previous post here)…and that is fitness and general well being. Shall we?
How many times have you gone to a tournament, and have found yourself doing quite well. You start the day out strong. Your concentration is sharp, you are getting distracted very little, and the pockets look humongous. There isn’t a shot at the table that you are afraid of. Then it happens. You have THAT match. The match where you begin to see the tight knot of confidence start to unravel. It might start out as just missing position on a key ball, making the rest of the run-out difficult. It could be jarring an easy ball that you took for granted. Missing a safety by the nearest of margins…any one of those things. You get through the set, but struggle. The next set is even worse. Your play is getting sloppy. You are having trouble maintaining your concentration, outside events are distracting you more and more easily. You’re weary, exhausted, and just can’t bear down anymore. You do a quick two step from there out of the tournament, and wonder, “What the heck just happened?! I was playing GREAT earlier! Now I’m lucky if I make a legal hit with ball in hand!”
Answer: You ran out of gas!
We’ve all been there. Even the best have been there. It is a part of the game that is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be. The ability to maintain your concentration over long periods of time is a vital aspect of pool and billiards. It can be a mentally draining game,(yes even 9-ball can be mentally draining!), when done over the course of a day. Just think about this: people who work in office buildings every day, pounding out reports, spreadsheets, writing articles, meeting deadlines…they aren’t doing anything physically strenuous. But when they get home, they are absolutely exhausted! The mental and emotional toll is immense! Pool and billiards is the same. You are constantly having to assess, execute in an extremely precise manner, re-assess, get down and do it all over again. And you can’t allow any distractions to interrupt this process. Over the course of a day, that is a extremely mentally and emotionally draining. It’s pretty daunting when you think about it. But in reality, there are many things that you can do to condition yourself to maintain that focus and confidence over longer periods of time…long practice hours being a favorite of many. But there are some very basic things that you can do outside of the pool hall that will be just as, if not more, beneficial.
TIP UNO! Get out and do something active at least once a day!
Have you ever had a day where you stayed in, done the couch potato routine with intentions of getting something done later, but when later came you didn’t have the will or energy?
Yeah, me too. Pool players are a notoriously slothful and inactive bunch of people outside of the pool hall. There’s very little physical activity for many of us outside of the hallowed walls of our favorite local establishment. This, as far as your pool game is concerned, is deadly. Inactivity can lead to many things…lack of energy and concentration being a couple of them. Getting out and being active can help counteract that! It does not have to be working out. It could be something as easy as going out to play with the dog, your kids, or going and walking around downtown for 30 minutes or more. Walk to the pool hall if it’s close enough. Something active…ride a bike, walk around the block, go exploring a new trail, go swimming…even something like physical labor. Something to get your heart rate up for more than 30 minutes each day is what I’m talking about. Now, I realize that during a 6 hour playing session, you walk a good few miles around the pool table. That doesn’t count. Get a little bit of a sweat going…anything that you can do to distress your body just a little beyond what it would do in a normal day is what you are shooting for. This does a couple of things inside the body. It releases these things called “endorphins”.
Now, I’m no scientist, or doctor…but I do workout and know what their effects on me are. I know that on days when I work out, I’m more alert. I’m able to function at work better. I can concentrate on things more easily, and do not get frustrated quickly.
I’m not saying get out and become a tri-athlete and trim down to 4% body fat. But getting out and doing something active will get the body alert and wondering what’s coming next. Slowly over time, increase your activity level by 15 minutes. The more you distress your body, the more alert you will be. Another thing that you will notice is that your outlook will skew just a little…you’ll be a little more positive about things. That’s those wonderful endorphins again. For those of you who are already into fitness, or running, you know all about them. That runner’s high you get when you hit about the 30 minute mark? Yeah, that’s those endorphins kicking in. It’s a little euphoric when you feel it the first time…and even slightly addictive. While that feeling might go away within 30 minutes to an hour after you finish, the after effects of the endorphins stay with you throughout the day.
Pretty soon, your body begins to produce these endorphins on their own…and you, as a pool player, get the benefit of better concentration and a more positive attitude at the table because of it. You’re in better shape on and off the table! WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!
TIP DOS! Rock a bye baby, on the tree top….
Sleep! Particularly R.E.M. sleep…(no not the 80/90’s band headed by Michael Stipe). This is another crucial component to being able to maintain your concentration and keep irritability to a minimum. R.E.M., or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is where your body repairs itself. In a normal 8 hour sleeping session, a person will go through 4-5 cycles of R.E.M. sleep making up about 20-25% of a night's sleep...about 90-120 minutes. Sometimes more, sometimes less. The more cycles of R.E.M. that you go through in a sleeping cycle, the longer each one gets. Your most vividly recalled dreams occur during R.E.M. sleep. It's also been hypothesized that R.E.M. sleep will help you improve your creativity...always a plus for us pool players! (Efren must have lived in R.E.M. sleep for a while)
There are more benefits to sleep than just improving your concentration, stamina, and energy levels. Your body is able to fight infections off easier when it’s fully rested. (nothing will side-track a game like having a sinus or ear infection!) You’ll heal wounds and injuries faster when you get proper sleep. Heck, when you’re in a dream state of sleep, you might even dream of how to improve your pool game! (not sure though if pool would be some reference to another topic entirely though when dreams are involved…but I digress….)
Combined with the first tip of keeping active outside of the pool hall, getting proper sleep will give your body the best possible conditions for maintaining focus over longer durations of time. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wake up before going to the pool hall. The average person does not fully wake up from a proper sleep for a good 1-2 hours. Good sleep will not do you any good if you walk into your match having just woken up 45 minutes prior and you aren't fully awake yet!
TIP TRES! Embrace your OCD…kind of.
Yes that does bother me...a bit. I’m under the firm belief that if you are addicted to this game, you are at least a little OCD. You have to be…there are too many little things that you have to pay attention to NOT to be. You're most likely either OCD or a savant. I know I fall into the former, because of what I do with my skittles when I open a bag:
RELAXING AND ORDERED:
All the colors are together, in a row, (piles are fine too, as long as the colors are separated), in a nice orderly fashion. I go one step further...ehhh...you don't need to know quite that much, so I'll stop here as I don't want to weird anyone out too much.
This....this is pleasing to me.
Like Skittles say: "A rainbow of flavor!"
I mean, even rainbows have order. Colors stay where they're supposed to. I mean, they made this guy cry over a TRIPLE RAINBOW!
On the other hand, you have people that like:
THE CONNIPTION FIT:
There is no semblance of order here. It's just a mishmash of vibrant color. Completely random. It's anarchy...it's CHAOS. And it makes my head hurt to look at it. And I kinda twitch when I see crap like this too.
Good lord...why would they not put more purple and yellow in this picture to even it out? Maybe a little more red too, please? Mishmashed colors...uneven...can't take it anymore...
Time to move onward...
Personally, I know that in order to prepare myself mentally to play my best, I need to follow a routine beforehand. It starts as soon as I wake up. I’m out for a quick jog, or pushing weights around, doing some push-ups or sit-ups, or riding the bike. Cool off…then shower. Then brush. Floss, top first from left to right, then bottom from right to left. Then it’s Listerine time. Shave next…then deoderant. Get dressed, bottom to top. (except for socks and shoes, they’re last in the getting dressed section). Then the wrist watch, necklace, and bracelet go on. Now the hair is next. Cologne…and I’m done. I do this in that order every time before a tournament. At this point, it’s mindless. I don’t need to think about it. That way, I can concentrate on the task at hand and prepare myself for it. When I’m done, I’ve already developed a game plan for the tournament as far as how I’m going to walk into each match with a positive frame of mind.
I’ll stop and pick up something to eat on the way for breakfast, and then it’s off to play. I try and make sure I eat at least 1 ½ hours before I get there so I don’t have the weight of food in my stomach. A good friend of mine said that if you’re playing on a full stomach, you’ll never be able to fully concentrate on the shot because your body is concentrating on digesting the food as well. It’s worked for me thus far….as has this routine. I’m not saying you should go out and copy this. Develop your own. Something that works for you, that you can repeat very easily. For myself, it gives me a boost of confidence to know that I’ve prepared mentally for the upcoming tournament. Now, all I have to do is go and execute properly. It sounds a little cliche, but you should be thinking that you can do whatever you set out to do on the table when you're on your way to the tournament. Because you're prepared...you should be saying:
So those are my three tips. The last one is more a glimpse into what works for me. But the theory is sound. Above all else, if you take just one thing away from this, this should be it right here: being physically ready to play will give you a properly tuned engine, (your body and mind), to power you, the pool player, throughout the tournament. I wouldn’t put a car into the Daytona, (or Indy), 500 that hasn’t been fully tuned up to give it's peak performance. Why would you do the same at a pool tournament, practice session or match up, with your body?
Sunday, October 31, 2010
It’s been almost 9 months that I’ve been out here now, and it’s the time for the doldrums of the deployment. One of the things that I’ve been doing to make the time go by is trying better myself. When I came out here to Afghanistan, I was the most out of shape I had been in my entire life. I hadn’t worked out in a while, had put weight on, and my body was in a general state of malaise. I don’t think I realized how bad it had gotten until I stepped on the scale after two weeks out here. 260 lbs…WOW. I went and had a body fat measurement to check and came in 5% over my allowable percentage. Gross. I was disgusted. (Still am, honestly. How could I let myself do that to myself?!?) Just to give you an idea of what that means to me, my high school weight was 185 lbs. In peak shape during swimming I had gotten down to 165 lbs. With age and a slowing down of my metabolism, I should be at around 200-210 lbs. I had come into the military at 235 lbs at 21 years old, which was too much. Over the course of the first 2 years in the military, I got it down to 191, and had been back and forth since then. Up to 225, down to 205, up to 220, down to 210…etc. I’ve always had to watch my weight, as I’ve been blessed with genetically enhanced love handles. It’s something I had become accustomed to dealing with. But it had gotten out of hand.
As many of you know, the military has physical fitness standards. On top of that, the military also has body fat percentage standards. What a lot of people do not know is that those aren’t there to make sure you stay in shape, but to make sure you look “right” in the uniform. They don’t care that you’re “fat”, as long as you don’t LOOK fat. Vanity is one of the benchmarks of military tradition. I don’t care if it’s broken; make it look like it’s not. Now, for body fat %, they don’t use a very accurate measuring system; just using a waist and neck measurement for males, use a formula and viola, you have your percentage. I used to complain about it, saying it wasn’t fair. But, over the years, I’ve realized the standard hasn’t changed. If they changed it, THEN it would be unfair.
One of the goals that I set for myself coming out here was to get back on track and get back in shape. There would be certain benchmarks that I would hit along the way. Well, today I hit one of those benchmarks I’ve set for myself. Just a small one, but any little bit counts. Now, I said up above that I weighed in at 260lbs two weeks after arriving. That was in just a t-shirt, shorts and socks. When you weigh in with your uniform and boots on, it adds about 6-9lbs on average, depending on what’s in your pockets and which boots you have on. Well, today I weighed in, in my uniform, and was pleasantly surprised to see the scale show 218lbs. If my uniform was 8 lbs, that would be a total weight loss over 9 months, (8 ½ to be exact), of 50 lbs! I had a body fat measurement last week and had lost 11% body fat from when I last had a measurement. I’m very pleased right now to know that the work that I’ve done out here for myself is paying off. It’s noticeable too. The uniform is starting to fall off of me. And I can see the difference in the mirror. I’m still not to my ultimate goal however. I would still like to lose another 20-25 lbs over the next 3 months to get back down to where I should be. I’m stepping up my work out routine to 2x’s a day, working out about 2-3 hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on what I’m doing. Now that I’ve lost this weight, now is time to start the body shaping process and try and work on those problem areas that have always been an issue for me. The fact that, at 33, my metabolism has slowed to a crawl means that I have to work that much harder during workouts, and be that much more disciplined in my dieting. But I’m confident that I’ll get to where I would like.
For those of you who are having problems, like me, with a decreased metabolic rate there is a very important part of your diet that you might be overlooking. That’s fiber. I’ve changed from a high protein diet to high fiber. That includes keeping breakfast, (when I eat it), to oatmeal with raisins and a sprinkle of brown sugar, fruit (mainly apples and grapefruit), and a fiber supplement. (My parents are going to give me so much stick for this it’s not even funny, they’ve been harping on this for years). I eat very little carbohydrates or candy, and have cut out soda and carbonated drinks almost entirely out of my diet. I’m drinking more hot tea, (both green and black), and stay away from sweets, (for the most part). My dinner is when I’ll have 90% of my protein for the day, and if I intake any carbohydrates, this is when I do so.
The next goal is going to be weigh-in under 210lbs (in uniform). From there, it’s 5lb increments until I get to my goal. Looking forward to getting back home and being forced to buy some new clothes cause the others are falling off…it’s a price I’ll gladly pay. The big benchmark is going to be when I can finally say I’m back under 200lbs. I’m close and can’t wait…
The first issue of PoolSynergy’s 2nd year will be released on the 15th. It’s a great topic too, so make sure you look out for it! As far as the rest of the trip out here for me, it’s coming up on 100 days left…hmm. That sounds like a great blog topic…100 days of agony…updated weekly. Yeah…sounds like a plan!
Friday, October 15, 2010
This month’s PoolSynergy topic has to do with mass media in America, namely television, and its effect on the pool industry. PoolSnark is our host this week and the rest of the blog posts can be found here.
So this is a topic that has been talked about more and more over the past few years. As most of you reading already know, pool on television in American is dying a slow and agonizing death. I have my own personal views on this of course, as do many people who have invested so much of their blood, sweat and tears into this sport. I hate to say it, but as things stand right now, I think that there is no room for pool and billiards on television in the United States.
There are a couple of reasons that I believe this. First and foremost is the American culture that we live in. It’s a very impatient society. Everything that happens in the U.S. is about the “Now! Now! Now!” mentality. Everything from how we eat, (the effusion of fast food joints around the U.S. is pretty staggering if you really sit and think about it), the way we drive, to what we watch on television is fast paced and action based, an artificial adrenaline rush. How many times, in the States, have you gone out to eat a nice meal, and polished it off quickly only to become bored afterwards? Dinner used to be a 2 hour affair. Now, a sit down dinner, just as an example, might last an hour before you are either bored or are “pushed” out the door by the staff to free up a table.
Americans habits in television have changed as well. Shows are progressively moving away from family oriented topics to more action and drama. The sedentary and often simple but common family issues often dealt with in shows such as “My Three Sons”, “The Brady Bunch”, “The Cosby Show” and the like have given way to high dollar productions such as “Lost”, “The Amazing Race”, “The Jerry Springer Show”, “The Real World”, and other shows of their ilk. Sports fill a very large roll as well in what Americans watch. The major sports take up a large portion of that, with shows such as SportsCenter being extremely popular due to their one-stop shop sports news broadcast. The appeal is quite understandable considering the change in viewership habits. Sports news broadcasts take the most exciting aspects of an event and condense it into a 30 second to two minute clip, complete with color commentary by the host.
One particular phenomenon which has gripped Americans has been the poker boom. If you ask anyone, (not a hard core player), in particular what they think about pool on television, and they will most likely say that it’s more boring than golf…about equal to watching the grass grow in the desert. If you ask that same person if they enjoy watching poker, whether it is the WPT or WSOP, they very possibly will think that it’s exciting television. And it’s due to production, and the amount of money being played for. The WPT and WSOP franchises have worked very hard to make what is, from an observer’s standpoint, an extremely boring game, exciting. Key hands are picked out and then edited together to make the hour long show. I watched an actual final table play out, and it took better than 12 hours. However, when the television show was aired, it only took two hours to air, minus commercial time. But it was good television, filled with drama and in a format where any person could understand when something significant happened, such as a well played bluff or a mistake made at a critical juncture. Also, if you again ask that same American to name some of the top pool players in the world, they might spout out with, “The Black Widow”, or “that blonde English chick, Allison something”. Ask them about professional poker players, and they’ll most likely be able to spout off about 5-6 names right away. The players on the poker shows are encouraged to display who they are to the television cameras…with tact of course. But if they should choose to not use tact, so much the better; controversy is the fuel that feeds good television.
So where does that leave pool? Is the television future of pool fully edited trick shot and speed pool competitions with the occasional WPBA event? For the short term, absolutely. Currently, there is no feasible way to market pool to the greater public. For lack of a better term, pool on television is just plain boring. Even for me, someone who loves the game and will always play it in one fashion or another until I physically cannot, watching pool on television is arduous at best. Part of it is the commentary, part of it is the sedentary ways the show portrays the players’ personalities. I can only imagine how it is for someone who does not know that the shot that was just made, although looking rather simple, was a difficult shot to execute. As it stands now, professional pool is dying here in the United States; at least as far as television is concerned. Eventually, it will be difficult to find even the speed pool and trick shot shows which are currently being aired. But I think this is for the best, because we have, in the current socio-economic environment, hit the proverbial glass ceiling…unfortunately the ceiling is getting lower and lower, and the sport has no momentum to break through. That momentum is gained by getting ordinary, non-pool playing people to want to watch.
Step 1: The Break Down
Before we are able to cultivate an audience for pool in the United States, we have to cull the mind-set of Americans that pool is boring to watch. That will take time. How much time? I have no idea. Might only take a few years, could be a full generation. But the idea of tearing something down to build it back up better than before is used all the time. Being a military guy, it’s the same concept that we use when we train civilians to be Soldiers. You break someone down, and build them back up. That’s what Basic Training/Boot Camp is all about; and at the same time they get the basic skill training that every Soldier must know. But the majority and most important parts of the training are mental aspects. In rebuilding the general public opinion that pool on television is boring, we must almost take a militant approach. Strip it down to the bare bones, until professional pool in the United States is almost completely dead. Now, there are a few tournaments which have too much history and prestige to just stop. The U.S. Open and DCC amongst others should continue. Outside of those major events, there shouldn’t be too many other open events. This is going to cause some things to happen.
1. By decreasing the number of major professional events held here in the United States, the ones which remain will hopefully, (I realize it is a 50/50 toss-up on this), maintain their status quo in attendance or even increase by causing the pool-playing community to focus only on a few events, rather than having a large selection to choose from.
2. The American professionals will be forced to ply their trade in other places, such as Europe or Asia.
The second point is key. Overseas, there is a most definite market for pocket billiards and cue sports in general on television. Matchroom Sports is a great promoter of cue-sports overseas. Their work has a great production value, great hype built in, and they encourage the players to show their emotions.
I’m going to digress here for a minute. On the topic of players displaying their emotions I say let them do it. While I fully respect the fact that this is a gentleman (or woman’s) game, my opponents, and the game in general, it’s only human to convey emotion. Whether it is sheer joy, anger, disappointment, disbelief, or even rage. That’s why I just shake my head at people who say that Earl “the Pearl” Strickland is a disgrace to pool because he says what he feels and isn’t ashamed of it. I’m not saying that everyone should go out and act like Earl; quite the opposite. People should act themselves. If they normally would get upset due to a particular event, then they should let it show. Just because you’re playing in a tournament does not mean that you should act like a robot, (unless you are of course). Being polite, not showing your emotions, or working hard to cover them up is a sham, as are over the top celebrations, snide comments or arguments when it does not match the personality. We need to get away from the mind-frame that you have to be a statue while you’re in the chair. As long as you aren’t sharking your opponent, I think you should show as much emotion as you normally would. It would give some character to the game. It would give the opportunity for personality conflicts to develop. When you have two sides pitted against one another, it is a polarizing event. People drift one way or another. Professional Wrestling had this formula down decades ago in the form of “Babyfaces” (heroes) and “heels” (villains). Pool in America needs that kind of spark. Pool in America needs those dynamic personalities who ignite controversy when they’re in the heat of battle. If there had been mainstream coverage in the States of the Mosconi cup a few years ago we may have had it. The 2007 Mosconi Cup where Darryl Peach threw the pacifier on the table following his match with Earl is a great example. Such a controversial move would have lit a fire under some. Remember up above when I said that controversy is the fuel that feeds good television? Ok, let’s get back on track…
Step 2: Build an international fan base
While professional pool stagnates and all but dies off in the United States, those American professionals who can, should be playing overseas. There are enough events there, with at least decently healthy paydays that they can play tournaments often enough to survive, and take care of people back home. The other thing that this will do is it will further familiarize the foreign market to the top American players. Stevie Moore just placed 5th at the Thailand Open. Shane Van Boening and Rodney Morris won the World Cup of Pool team competition in 2008. Those are the most notable international accomplishments of American pool players recently. We haven’t really been setting the world on fire. Part of this is due to travel, and acclimatization. If our players are over there more often, they will see more and more success as a result. The more success they have, the more popular, or unpopular they will be with the international audience. As they say, good or bad, publicity is publicity. The more familiar the foreign audience is with our players, the more marketable they will become. With pool being as popular as it is overseas, especially in Asia, (where a majority of the world’s population resides mind you), our players can become much more well known to a larger audience if they are playing over in that area more often. And depending on their demeanor while competing, they will either be the “heel” or the “babyface”. Can you imagine what kind of notoriety a World Cup of Pool team like Earl Strickland and Dennis Hatch would create in Asia? Either way, they will have that attention that the sport needs. But even with American pool players increasing their marketability overseas, becoming a value for companies to step in and effectively sponsor them, it will not yet be time for pool to flourish here in the States. There has to be something that Americans can identify with…whether they enjoy playing or watching pool or not.
Step 3: The Catalyst
There has to be an event that will draw Americans in, not because it’s pool, but because they have a common interest in the outcome. National pride is what is most often used when discussing what bonds most Americans together. A great example would be the most recent World Cup. Seeing the fan compilations of celebrations people had when Landon Donovan scored his goal showed how energetic Americans can be when watching their country competing against another. The Mosconi Cup is a fantastic event which pits the top American shooters against the best in Europe. Why not take this a step further and include teams from Asia? The Middle East? South America? Canada? Tennis has the Davis Cup, which is very similar to this. It’s a formula which has worked for years.
Another event which could cause this type of reactions in America is the World Cup of Pool. 32 teams from all over the world competing against one another in doubles format. As witnessed a month or so ago in Manila, it is an emotional roller coaster of a ride. The match between Taiwan and Philippines was incredible. Roberto Gomez and Dennis Orcullo were physically beating each other up throughout the match they were so pumped up. (Though I will say that Dennis being so small, he was definitely getting the worst of it) It was absolutely amazing television. The players were fired up and weren’t afraid to show that emotion. If the World Cup of Pool became a circuit, with multiple stops using the same format, with more teams, it could be a winning recipe.
So whatever this catalyst is, it needs to be able to polarize the American audience and cause them to identify on a nationalistic level with our American professionals. If the television is exciting enough, the American audience will want more…and right away. When that happens, we have to be ready. We need to have the ability to get more events like that to the American audience. There will not be a worry of sponsorships because our players already have their sponsorships in place overseas. It could be as simple at first as bringing a World Cup of Pool or World Pool Masters event to the States. When the large, non-pool industries see that it has become marketable, they will line up to get their name plastered all over. This is how you bring in the outside sponsors. This is how you would provide an influx of money to the sport, so that our professionals can ply their craft back home and be able to earn a respectable income. At that point, it becomes a marketing scheme. Get the players out to the general public. Public appearances, charity events, pro-ams…all of these things will happen.
At that point in time, perhaps the everyday American who plays pool twice a year, might be encouraged to head down to his local billiard parlor, and shoot some stick…because he wants to be just like the guy who he saw waving the American flag after an exciting match against the Europeans on ESPN.