D I A R Y
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P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.




Monday, March 15, 2010

How to get more people playing pool





This article is the 5th in a series of posts written in coordination with other pool bloggers entitled "PoolSynergy" . To see others, go to:http://nycgrind.com/?p=9778


Pool has a bad reputation because it has earned it. It's simple Cause and Effect. Pool is the way it is because of everything that has happened, and not happened, to cause it to be that way. But let's not beat a dead horse. We can't change the past; it's more productive to focus on what can be done to make things better.

There's a lot of talk about how the billiards industry has fallen on hard times, and how pool has a bad image in the mind of the General Public (people who don't play pool). There's always talk about what can be done to make things better, but it seems that there's no consensus, and nothing gets done. Pool just keeps circling the drain, hoping for another movie with Paul Newman to give it a shot in the arm. But that would just be a temporary fix, and do nothing to address the real problems.

This month's PoolSynergy topic is an opportunity for me to express a few thoughts that have been on my mind. One of the cardinal rules that I try to live by is to speak only positive thoughts, but when you are dealing with pool, I feel I have to abandon that rule and deal with some really negative stuff that bugs the livin' bejeezus out of me, such as:

1. Use commentators who can speak English properly. I won't name names, but if you graduated from high school, you should know who they are. There is just no reason whatsoever that pool tournaments should have guest commentators who routinely use double negatives (even triple negatives) in a sentence. It perpetuates the stereotype that pool players are uneducated low-life bums, or stupid, or criminal, or all of the above. Additionally, it speaks volumes about the sort of people who run the tournaments and who run the organizations that control pool. None of it is good. Why is there not more pool on TV? This single factor could be one of the prime reasons. TV executives certainly know that these commentators are bad for TV, so pool doesn't get the coverage it could.

2. Live streaming video is a great step forward, and getting better all the time, but still nowhere near good enough to get anyone other than pool addicts to watch. It would be much better to explain the strategies instead of having commentators just killing time with inane banter that has nothing to do with what is happening at the moment. Show more stats of the players during the dull moments of video productions, rather than have someone rattle off a few disjointed facts. People remember a lot more of what they see than what they hear.

3. Commentators should deal with the game going on, and not the instant messaging chat. Am I the only one who goes full-screen with the stream so that I can see it better? And if you go full-screen, you lose the chat feed, but the commentators seem to use the chat feed as a crutch to fill in dead air with blather which is completely unrelated to the game at hand. There's only so much of this disjointed stuff I can take before I just mute the commentating completely. I just want an intelligent, live analysis. Is that too much to ask?

4. When making a product for network TV, edit the video to delete all the think time and rack time. Show only the excellent run-outs, the great shots, and the "color" moments. Use slow motion to accentuate the details. A major problem with pool video broadcasts is that there is so much dead time. Only die-hard pool fans want to watch players think. And nobody on this planet wants to watch a player trying to get a decent rack, re-racking ad nauseum... If you want to attract more people to pool, then you have to make it more interesting. That means action! This is the internet age; the average attention span is now down to around 5 seconds. Get with it.

5. Invest in video products that show the best of the game, by the best players. This could be paid for by BCA, APA, WPA, etc. if they would co-operate to increase the number of players rather than competing for an ever-dwindling number of players. Use more CGI and tricks of the video trade. Look what's being done with football and apply some of the tricks to pool. It doesn't have to be expensive if it's done in post-production.

6. Get local players into the game with national and regional contests. Use video to show the winners and post the videos online. Recognize and reward excellence and more players will be brought into the game. There is one excellent method that has been developed which is independent of the APA rating system, or the BCA rating system. So you don't have to join these organizations, and keep paying dues and showing up for matches at inconvenient times and places. It's the International Playing Ability Test (IPAT) and anyone can try it, but there's too much math involved for people to deal with it easily. But the principle is excellent. It just needs to be simplified. That's why I created a spreadsheet program to do all the math easily. It's available here, free.

Oh, I could go on and on, but heck, I just like to play pool. I don't want to get all worked up about what's wrong with the business and marketing models in the industry, but since I was asked, well, now you know. Thanks for listening. Have a nice day!




This article is the 5th in a series of posts written in coordination with other pool bloggers entitled "PoolSynergy" . To see others, go to:http://nycgrind.com/?p=9778

5 Comments:

Blogger jbiddle said...

I love a good rant, Mike, this this one was most enjoyable. You're spot on in every item on your list, though I don't hold out much hope for improvement.

Monday, March 15, 2010 7:52:00 AM  
Blogger Johnny said...

Excellent article Mike. I'm glad someone else mentioned the online streaming, but you're right about there being too much unrelated banter. I like hearing side-stories about players, but not at the cost of game discussion. For me, I like the chat stream, especially when the commentators are off doing other things, or talking about things that I don't find interesting - but it can be a bit of a distraction when they focus purely on the chat stream.

Monday, March 15, 2010 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Markus Hofst√§tter said...

I like your article and I agree with the most things. But I think it is also important to show the "thinking moments" so everybody can see pool has to do with strategy.


thanks,

Markus

Monday, March 15, 2010 2:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Reddick said...

Loved your article! Very entertaining. The key to successfully breaking into the TV market is thinking about what appeals to the average non-pool playing public, and catering to them. We could get Dr. Dave Alciatore to provide slow-mo video analysis of difficult shots, hire a statistician to drown us with irrelevant data, and get Harry Platis to do color commentary. It would be a blast!

Monday, March 15, 2010 6:05:00 PM  
Blogger Family Games Plus said...

I am new to the blog world but not to life and pool. I agree with you on the belief that if you want to be perceived as representing a sport that is looking for respect you should have communication skills to communicate in proper English so others will believe you know what your talking about. In some cases I have seen it so bad that you just can not understand what they are trying to say. Well, enough of my ranting. I just wanted to say nice job on all parts of your article. I will be watching your posts as you publish them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 7:06:00 AM  

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