Behrman Speaks On Masters Championship, Pool.

Barry Behrman and Shannon Behrman Paschall held a press conference yesterday at the Chesapeake Convention Center to offer up their thoughts on how to improve the Masters Championship for next year and about the game of pool in America. Mr. Behrman is obviously intimately involved in the game and is fervent about the need to improve the fortunes of the sport in our country.

He began with a bit of a lament. He knows that the game is moving away from our shores. All of the current World Championships and most of the World Ranking events are now held in either the Mid-East or China. Only his US Open Championship carries WPA world ranking points in America. And table sales here, an accurate measure of the health of the game, have plummeted from 170,00 tables only a few years ago to 40,000 tables in 2010. The game needs a revival in its own birthplace. He expressed his desire to do whatever it takes to allow his daughter Shannon to inherit a game with the potential to make her efforts worthwhile and expressed his gratitude to her for the invaluable work she does each year to put together the events that he now holds.  

Then he began to talk about the changes he will make next year on the Masters. The field this year (57 players) was less than he had hoped for and he will next year reduce the entry fee to $300 and will change the players meeting to Tuesday morning instead of Monday eventing to reduce the amount of money that the players have to invest in entry fees and hotel rooms. He believes these changes will make the event more affordable to the contestants so that more of them will participate. He will also work with the BCA and the WPA to make certain that there is enough time for players to get to his event. This year the World 8-Ball Championship and the Reno Bar Table Championships were both finishing so close to the beginning of the Masters that many players simply did not have the time to get to Chesapeake and participate. He will also work more diligently to get the local media involved in order to attract a larger field of fans to fill the stands.  

Then he moved on to the larger picture of improving the health of pool. Behrman noted that the successful sports like Golf, Basketaball, Football, etc, all have formal organizations such has the PGA. the NBA and the NFL to promote and run them. He feels pool needs to follow a similar track. "We need one guy to lead us. One guy like Ivan Lee who is highly intelligent and dedicated to growing the game. In fact, we need two or three Ivan Lees to drive the game. With a team of folks like that running the sport it could grow." Behrman envisions an office staff that will work full-time on attracting sponsors and creating events and involving media to promote the game. "Then everybody profits. It begins with selling more tables, more cue sticks and more balls. With more money coming into the industry the industry would have the funds required to promote itself properly."

Behrman sees the first problem very clearly. Such a staff would need access to the funds required to do the work. "We need someone who can see the potential of risking their capital and letting it grow with the game. We already have folks who fly into Chesapeake each year in their own jets. The game has people in it with the money the game needs to make it grow, we just need one of them to step up to the plate and make the investment to get this going."

And there is the rub. While the economy here is healing, it is healing very slowly. Investors are cautious. The appetite for risk-taking is at low ebb. But Behrman is the eternal optimist. He is seeking the right venture capitalist to begin these efforts and is willing to put his own experience and labor behind the effort. He has a small task force that is meeting this week to toss around ideas. And whether you agree with him or not, we can all only hope that this tree can bear the fruit we need to allow our sport to halt the decline here, turn around, and begin to grow again.