Support it if You Can Afford it
Ryan Less
Apr. 1, 2020
So the Covid-19 virus hit us, really bad! Us pool lovers are not the only group suffering, but I think that maybe we are one of the groups that really need to step it up once the quarantines are lifted.
 
Pool players are a funny breed. We sometimes seem vaccinated against letting someone associated with our sport make a profit. Whether it's a pool hall, promotor, event organizer or tournament director.
 
Often it feels like we pool players seem to think that it should be almost free to practice, tournament fees should be cheap, but the prize pools (and handicaps) should be huge. Is it really fair that the pool halls, organizers and sponsors carry all the costs? Is this not a business like any other?
 
We even bring our own food and drinks! This mentality has to stop. Hence the headline “Support it if you can afford it”.
 
Traditional pool rooms in some areas are handicapped by liquor licenses that are unattainable at 3/4’s of a million dollars up front, and township ordinances that make it difficult to run a full restaurant or kitchen. It’s already a difficult challenge to stay afloat with high rent for large spaces to house multiple pool tables, the extra expenses of heating and cooling the large space and all the other overhead to cover. Now with the current Covid-19 pandemic and forced shutdown of several of these hardcore pool rooms for an extended period of time, a simple SBA loan or extension for 90 days will only allow for bills to pile up and cause long term debt and possibly an inevitable permanent closing of the facility.
 
Facts
- Average industry growth 2013–2018: -5.2%
- For 2019 and the next 5 years it's forecasted to continue its downward trend.
- Tables rates have not increased significantly over the past 20 years.
 
And this is before the Covid-19 crisis (!)
 
Most pool halls struggled to pay their expenses from month to month before this crisis. They work endless days, hours after hours, just to make sure we have a place to hang out, play pool and compete in tournaments. The tournament directors often have to suffice with a pat on the back (if that), and that's after staying on their feet for hours during a weekend and not to mention all the leg work they do even before the tournament starts.
 
The pool halls normally give us an hour of free play before a tournament, so I strongly encourage players to stick around once they get knocked out and match up with others who have been eliminated or stick around even just to practice alone to give back to the venue that already donated free hours of play. These free hours is a direct loss of revenue that day.
 
We also want all the entry fees to be put into the prize pool, leaving nothing to the pool hall and/or organizer. We are leaving nothing on the table. We want it all for ourselves.
 
We have to change our train of thought, guys. Once we get back to our normal everyday we need to show our support! Go to your local pool hall, buy some food, pay for table time sign up for tournaments and bring a friend. Don't complain if they take 20% of the tournament fees. Leave something on the table. Show them we appreciate the work they are putting in, and we want them to stick around for years to come.
 
If we, pool players, don't step up now, there will be a dramatic reduction in pool halls in the imminent future. This means less players, less interest and less new players, and if our beloved sport is ever going to grow, well, needless to say; this will put us back years! The sport might never recover actually. There is a limit to how long pool hall operators, tournament directors and promoters will satisfy our needs for dimes on the dollar.
 
This is the only way the pool halls are going to survive in 2020. If we fail to show our support they will shut down, one by one. Trust me. The 1,399 pool halls (US) of today will pretty quickly be 1,000 and in free fall. The 11,000 being employed in this industry will quickly drop to 10,000 and so on and so on.
 
So please, support it if you can afford it.
 
(Source for facts: IBIS World)