Time For A Plan

Mike Janis

It is blatantly obvious to any American pool fan that the state of men's professional pool in America at present is a sorry one. There are not enough events or prize money for anyone to make a good living on pool alone and the events seem to dwindle down to fewer and fewer each year.

This is not only an unacceptable condition for pro pool but also for the industry that relies upon the game for its livelihood. If pool disappears from our television screens the table manufacturers, cue makers, etc. will lose yet another impetus that drives consumers into their marketplace. Just as the sales of basketballs would lose their cachet should the hoops disappear from the small screen, pool can only stand so much of a vacuum before the industry staggers in its final reel.

We have long known that pro pool needs an organization, a reliable framework around which the sport and industry can rally and grow. A ‘farm system' that allows players to travel a path that takes them from amateur up to the pro level where rewards can be found for their hard work.

This Wednesday, Mike Janis (of the Viking Cue 9- ball Tour) will present a plan to the board of the BCA that he feels will accomplish these goals. Janis is remaining fairly mum about the details of his plan as he does not wish to put the BCA in a position where they cannot alter his framework. He wants to be able to work out the fine details with them in a co-operative manner without forcing them into a rigid, pre-determined box. But Janis has shared with AZBilliards enough of the plan that we can at least discuss the basics.

What Janis proposes is that the BCA fund a system that uses the existing regional tours to qualify players for a true professional tour, said tour to grow from six events to eight (and possibly more), including at least one televised event, per year as finances allow. This would define a pattern for players to follow to realize their dreams and would provide a focal point for manufacturers and fans to support. It would also provide the BCA a means to fulfill their mission statement of promoting the sport and sanctioning events.

It would give American players a true tour to collect ranking points upon, those points being used to determine who qualifies for international WPA competitions. Existing events such as the US Open could become a part of this tour by simply agreeing to use the WPA rules for their competitions and paying a miniscule sanctioning fee to the BCA. Janis sees the BCA funding as temporary only, providing the seeds that the new tour would grow by attracting corporate sponsorship. As the tour matures the BCA itself would find its financial commitment shrinking while the members, players and fans would still enjoy the gifts that a healthy pro series would bring.

This is an excellent opportunity for the BCA to provide the lifeline that our sport requires. The very people who will enjoy the greatest benefit from its existence can create the form and effectiveness of that lifeline. We may not know for a while what shape this life support may assume, but we would like your input on the matter. So we are starting a forum thread titled “Pro Pool in America” that we would like you to use to contribute your thoughts on this plan and to offer constructive ideas that might help the BCA determine their direction.

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe