Are that many amateur events good for the sport or… why the US have less pros than ever – An Anonymous Editorial

The following editorial was submitted to us by a European player who is spending some time in the States...


In the past few months and years we have experienced an evolution in the tournaments scene. Meant by that is the increasing number of amateur events. That was a foreseeable evolution though. Due to less and less tournaments with a decent amount of added money in the $1000s many top players suddenly showed up more and more on small weekend tournaments. They are even seen regularly at weekly tournaments, trying to collect the 50 bucks here and there. Although top players are  not supposed to play these types of competitions, grabbing even those bucks, nobody can blame them for doing it. They also “need” to make some money, just as they used to before when there were many more well added events.

As an expected reaction the amateur events inflated – at first for a good reason! Amateur players could finally play a tournament again with competitors of their speed or at least around their speed. They eventually could win some prize money again. Some of them took that money to buy new shoes or have a nice dinner with their beloved. Others used it to attend so called “pro events”. This was good for these events. After the number of players at these events decreased for a while there were  more players again to participate which resulted in more prize money for the top players. The “food chain” was intact again.

All together: mid- and low-level players could win some dollars at weekly tournaments, some of them then invested this extra money in a major event like a U.S. Open where, usually, the top and pro players get their piece of the cake and don't have a reason to take home the prize money of those tournaments that are made for non-pros. But then the following happened:

Amateurs events became too lucrative...

   1. for amateur players, so they don't want to risk a pro classification by attending a pro event.
   2. so pro events decreased (and still are) due to less players attending them

The first point also indicated the circumstance that hustling is more popular than ever. But this time it isn't a gambling-thing. Players try to stay under the radar to avoid a new, maybe so called “pro status”. Why should a player show all his skills if this means less opportunity to win money? Why should a player try to improve if you get punished for getting better? Why should one try to reach excellence in our sport?

The second point makes it nowadays almost impossible for master players to win any money at all. While they might not be good enough or just not able to invest more time and/or money to beat the heavy guys in tournaments like the Seminole Pro Tour, the Derby City or the U.S. Open they are also not allowed to play most of the other tournaments because they are called “a pro”

This poses the question: what is a pro player? Where is the line? A common declaration is: “somebody that plays on the pro tour”, “somebody that is rank on the pro tour ranking”. But there is one important fact – there is NO pro tour. Unlike the WPBA tour, for which you have to qualify over regional tours etc., there is NO men's pro tour! Although tours like the Seminole Pro Tour contain the word “pro”, although the Euro Tour and the San Miguel Tour in Europe and Asia might be the toughest tours world wide, everybody, from your co-worker to your grandparents, from your nephew to your nurse is eligible to pay the entry-fee for these tours, play in it and can get ranked in these “pro” tour rankings. The common sense that a player ranked in any of these tours is a pro player is then obviously false.

To solve this awkward situation for all involved parties either the BCA, as the governing body of the American pool scene, or a committee composed especially for this issue should determine a universal, easy to understand/use guide line. If this does not happen somewhere in the near future the USA will run out of pros as it is actually already doing. While Europe and Asia are rising and hold 95% of all world titles over the last decade there are only a few new rising stars in the US. If the country of pool's origin wants to keep pace with the international competitors something has to happen in the very near future to stop the vicious circle and the increasing gap between amateurs and pros, between the amateur and pro events!