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The Evolution of Billiards. ~ Alvin Nelson

Pro and amateur billiards is on a swing in the right direction.

That is the mindset that I want to program into the mass collective and begin to materialize A Golden Age for billiards right from our own thoughts.

I am responsible for the industry as it is now. My mind is a reflection of the outward appearance. As soon as I can change my mind the world will change around me. This is the end result of 10 years in the pro pool world, owning responsibility for everything and that is powerful.

This article will bring accounts of several top of the industry pro players who have been in the professional levels of the industry for many years as well and attempt to inspire us all to take our game and sport to the next level. I feel that with Live Streaming, the alternative media, and platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Ustream, Sneaky Pete Mafia, NYCGrind, and InsidePool, we are beginning to build a strong foundation to set our palace to pool and billiards among the stars.

The central idea that seems to be most important is promoting others in the industry and promoting the top pros abilities and value while promoting our individual cause. I believe one of the key elements to unlocking this door is for us all take a vow to help thy neighbor here in the pool world as much as we can.

The step up to positive thinking is ultra important. The common mind of someone in the Billiards industry is that of an “outside of the box thinker”—intelligent, and understanding of how difficult it is to make something out of yourself in the pool world. They are focused and strong minded for sure. The focus needs to move from separate interests only to unification of support.

All companies and players in the pool world are working for the limited amount of money and products that can be used to trade for advertising and player expenses. I believe the key is to really pump up your advertisers who support you and others. Sell their products well and that will build a stronger ad base for the industry to give back.

The common wrong thought system is: “I just need to get my expenses paid.”

From here the mindset needs to move to: “What can I do to help this advertiser make more money than what they put out of pocket to get me to this event?” From there it is very important to really represent their investment in you, and go out of your way to put that product or person on a pedestal for the people and media.

The next sensitive subject is that we need to remove the rose colored glasses—the road player enigma we all watch, and follow. The public view of gambling and the hustler rubber stamp, although romantic and exciting in its current manifestation, leads this game on a downward spiral. Until the entire aura of that mindset changes the world will not view pool properly.

The way in which this activity is done is the key. More importantly is professionalism and appearance when out in the field, and being low key about gambling.

Throwing money around with a big smile, rolling in cash on a pool table for Facebook pictures, boasting how much you’re playing for or how much you won is something I see repeatedly making the players of this sport look like what it really is—dark room gambling.

Pool is the Gentlemen’s game.

I find the more “in the background” those hustler movements move, the faster professionalism progress. I believe that it lives within everyone to bring the game up. How can we do this? It starts with positive thinking about everything and enforcing a dress code on yourself when out in public participating in cue sports.

The way you look is the way others will perceive dedicated pool players. Now that more and more tournaments are being live streamed to the world on major broadcasting platforms like Youtube live, Ustream tv as well as the soon to be Yatube from Yahoo, there is a need for everyone who cares to be trigger ready for people in the top levels who may be watching.

And it does happen.

For instance, let’s say the most famous personality with the most influence who is interested in Billiards is watching. We will call him Mr. X to mask his identity but we all know him. Let’s say Mr. X for some reason is watching a live stream sitting in an airport on his phone between stints as a super megastar. Through his eyes we see Billy Joe walk up to the table with his wrinkled Giant M+M candy T-shirt with BBQ sauce on the front adjusting his crotch every thirty seconds. Every once and awhile he strolls over and has a big gulp of beer and chews on a chicken wing, then fills the camera lens full of smoke from his cigarette.

Also Mr. X notices that the live streamer producing the video is having his dinner live on the microphone and commentating at the same time about how good the food is. We hear his fork clink off the plate and chewing sounds emitting through Mr. X’s headphones.

I am speculating here but I would bet that Mr. X will change what he is doing at that moment and decide to watch something else. Theoretically he thinks, “ Why should I do anything to promote or help this game, look at how these people show up?” Mr. X walks away shaking his head and so do the rest of the 200 people from across the globe who never have seen pool online before that happened to drop into the feed from out in the ether.

In this day of constant camera, media footage and now that big names are paying more attention and see the game, our collective mind needs to put its foot down and begin with the man in the mirror.

Changing the sport is really a decision to say, “I am responsible for the industry being the way it is.”

I did this. I own that truly. It is me that has to change before the Pool World Changes and the outside world. The pool world is a reflection of the state of mind I have now—a mirror image. It’s what we think, say, and do that creates or destroys. All the power is within. It is up to us to enforce a dress code on our selves at your tournaments and keep those people who decided to look like they just walked out of a food fight off your live stream no matter how good they are.

The old saying goes: You never know who is watching. The streamers out there, including myself, all need to jump up the levels of the productions as well and the industry needs to continue to realize the power of live streaming, online magazines, and other avenues digitally to jump there products, our beloved pro players, and sport.

The following are several quotes from pro players I had asked to participate in this article. I asked them about what needs to be done to help this sport.

Max Eberle: “First what we can all do on daily basis to improve the sport is to simply be friendly and respectful with each other to help create a welcoming culture in and around the game. If we do choose to compete in any form, it is great practice not to purposefully shark and pull moves on our opponents. Personally I want to win on the merits of my play, not my ability to distract. Win or lose, we can show respect for our opponent and have dignity knowing we will live to win again. As for pool hall owners, don’t wait for the law to make you switch to non smoking, make the move as a leader who wants the best for the sport. Quite frankly most people don’t want your smoke filled air. What kind of other sport allows this environment? It’s time for pool to grow up on so many levels, I could go on and on, maybe in a future interview.”

Robb Saez feels that the sport needs unity and we need to promote the next man as well as the normal habit of looking out for ourselves. He feels there is no equal treatment for players and favoritism runs rampant thru the industry. He says instead of bickering and trying to get the best game and ball spot, to just throw yourself out there and give it a chance. He said that was the way he reached to the top fighting the champions. This was the way it was done in the old days. Working together is the key in Robb’s statements.

Stevie Moore stated that the games growth begins with the kids and getting them into the game the right away. He thinks that individually begin in your own hometown to help the game grow.

Ralf Souquet says: “First of all I think it would be helpful if we would play after the same rules worldwide and not have different rules everywhere. Especially in the USA a lot of promoters think to know staff better than the majority of the world. We do have a set of rules from the WPA which is good and should be followed by everyone. Could you imagine if in tennis or golf you would have new scenarios? I doubt it that people would buy it and would lose interest in it. Besides that I believe that maybe only one discipline should be pushed (whichever game it might be) and declared as the pools professional game, otherwise it is too difficult to follow. Snooker and 3-cushion for example are the other billiard games that everyone knows and pool also just needs one game or discipline. For the sport to grow we need money and money comes through TV from sponsors and the industry. As soon as the sport is actually treated like a sport from fans and players, it will grow but money comes only from TV coverage. Internet might be helpful but is not big enough. Only a few people will sit in front of a computer watching something for hours but in front of a TV or a big screen in a bar you could watch sports for hours and hours.”

Charlie Williams stated that he felt that we should all accept pool for what it is now and work from there. He feels the younger generation is not seeing and hearing the complaining and negativity that pervades our sport from the amateur level to the pro level. He feels that being more positive about what we have is key and of course continuing to improve the sport as we go.

Dennis Orcullo feels that an organized Pro Pool tour is the answer. An unnamed pro player feels that the amateur level of the sport is where things can change for the pros. All the money that can ever fund a pro tour is within the industry every year. He feels If you look at amateur level golf as the model one can see how the pro level of the sport is funded by its industry and amateur tour.

Thank you for reading and thank you to Garret, and the rest of Sneaky Pete Mafia staff for all that you give to the sport.

Alvin Nelson was first introduced to the game of Pool through a mutual friend while working at a local pizza place. His friend’s father was highly involved in the professional pool scene in the Akron/Cleveland area, which became a huge influence on his life and guided him to the billiard industry. He began filming and editing Pool videos of professional pool players, and later filming tournaments. He is now the video producer for InsidePool Magazine.

Photo: Boston Public Library/Flickr Editor: Dana Gornall
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