American Professional Pool (By Barry Behrman)

As I have thought about the game of pool in America the last 2 to 3 years, I have to say, there are a lot of problems that must be fixed right away or we are going to go far backwards.

One reason is the lack of government involvement. In the Philippines, Asia, Saudi Arabia, and more, their governments get very financially involved. We promoters are declining in the U.S. because funding large events is almost impossible. To help with this the billiard industry needs to get much more involved in men's and women's professional events first and foremost. Table companies, cue makers, case makers, and others need to open up their wallets as a whole and this will inadvertently open the eyes of corporate America.  Think about it, why should corporate America want to get involved with pool on a big stage when our own can't even afford much?  

The poor condition that American professional pool is in now needs to be fixed right away.  An association of 4 to 6 people needs to be formed to work with the entire pool industry for a common purpose to help fix the problem together, it is that simple. The major pool table companies such as Brunswick, Diamond Billiards, and others do not necessarily need to compete, but work as allies, along with cue makers, to have a line of communication with one common goal.  A few people, such as Ivan Lee, Greg Sullivan, Chad Scharlow, Yves Bilquin, and a couple more, need to form a group of intellectual, trusting individuals with a secretary. What we don't need, as it has never worked in the past, is to let the pool players play the game and not be involved with this association. Let the players only give some fuel for thought to pass on and leave it that way.  In other words, players need stay away from trying to run the pool world in the U.S. and let the others do what they do best. At the end of the day, with this instilled, the problems will have a better chance of being fixed. There are many wonderful people who love to see our game in the U.S. flourish.

The W.P.B.A. has fewer events than ever. The men do not even have an association which is very, very distressing.  Believe me, corporate America knows this, so why should they need or want to take a chance and join hips when there is no one to run the game of pool for us? What a shame this is. So again, let's fix the problem and everyone will prosper very soon, and when I say everyone, I am talking about our professional players, the industry as a whole, and more promoters who will have a chance to make a profit to continue on.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (L.P.G.A.) has lost almost 40% of their events while Men's Professional Golf Association (P.G.A.) has lost none.  They in fact, have gained more sponsors to promote their game and their companies. The difference between the P.G.A and the L.P.G.A. is that the P.G.A. has sponsors with deep pockets.  We need to obtain some sponsors of magnitude inside and outside our industry.  When Hustler came out in 1961 and The Color of Money in 1986, pool was booming. Between 1986 and 1988, 50 billiards rooms were opening every day in America for two years.  Yes, some of them failed, but what an impact for the game of pool.  That is what we need, a shot in the arm now for us to survive and it has be very soon. We cannot continue to suffer much longer here in the U.S.  or the problems will be much harder to fix.

I am not vying for the job as I am 65 now and not as useful, but what I can and will do is help form an alliance of the right people and gladly give advice. The industry leaders can get the job done if they simply work together for the common goal to fix American professional pool for men and women.  It can be called the American Professional Pool Players Association, A.P.P.P.A., just an example.   

Really everyone it is not a tough task. Just getting it started with the right people is vital.  Again, we need four Ivan Lees and one secretary; we do not even need an office, no expenses with major awards for all.  

I will be working hard, alongside my beautiful and smart daughter, Shannon, for our 36th annual U.S. Open, October 16-22, 2011.  The field of 256 players will, again, be full.  We will be trying to raise more money for the players and our goal is not $178,000.00, but at least $200,000.00 in total prize fund, leaving 1st place at $40,000.00 alone, and paying down through 96th much healthier.  

We all have goals in life, but if you do not put your right foot forward first, nothing will ever happen. How sad that would be for the game of pool.

I appreciate, over the long career that I have had, what many companies have done for the U.S. Open and other events very much. Oh yes, I have made my fair share of mistakes with late payments since 2007, which I am not very proud of at all.  I also made personal mistakes 8 to 9 years ago which almost cost me everything I have. Thank God that family, friends, and the pool industry stood by my side during that time which was the key to getting "straight" from substance and being clean feels wonderful, but enough about myself.

Now, I will leave all of you with the reasons I have been late paying players since 2007, Shane's victory. All of my life I have increased the prize fund with the increase of spectators, vendors, players, and fans leaving ticket prices the same for over 20 years, $10.00 all day or all night, a tradition I will continue to maintain, and of course with my wonderful sponsors contributions, some more, some less, and some new ones as well.

People ask me, Barry why do you add as much as you do in addition to paying for past champions entry fees? Well, it is all due to the passion I have for the game and for the players. This past U.S. Open I added $50,000.00 along with the $11,000.00 in entry fees and a few thousand dollars for sanction fees that were not deducted out of the players' wallets. If I did not do all of that, then there never would have been any late payments. I am not stupid, I do understand, but again, my goal has always been to help feed the players and that is why they are so understanding, or at least most of them are.

I remember adding $3,000.00 in 1976 and now, when it is all said and done, it adds up to over $70,000.00-$75,000.00 just in added money total.  My total expense is $150,000.00 just to break even. Again, I know what I am doing, but now is the time to try and fix the many problems there are in men's and women's professional pool and I will be doing the same to not pay a few players late.

I believe I have spelled a lot out, but that is the easy part. Like Larry the Cable Guy says, “Let's git ‘er done” and that pertains to everyone and the mentioned in my writings today.  Let's just “Do it” as Nike would say and it is not that hard.

Being selfish with competition is not the answer to success.

So ladies and gentlemen, I have laid out some guidelines, now someone, please, take the bull by the horns for the sake of the game of professional pool, and everyone, especially in the U.S., will appreciate those of you that get a lot more involved.

Barry S. Behrman
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship
Since 1976