March 2, 2009
Snazzing Up Snooker
Snazzing Up Snooker
‘It’s dying.’ says Ronnie O’Sullivan, probably before regaling us with another tale of how sick he is of the game and how he’ll probably jack it in soon anyway to go bungee-jumping with Tibetan monks.
He’s wrong, of course, the game is not dying at all. Up and down the country, snooker clubs still draw the same amount of punters they ever did (credit crunch notwithstanding) and it’s generally a game most blokes from Blighty have a secret desire to be good at. We play lots of pub pool because it’s much easier and less demanding of actual talent, but we’re the first to congratulate and show admiration when a snooker-playing fellow comes in and cleans up every frame without missing a ball. We love it.
But, alas, Ronnie isn’t interested in potting eight balls in a row to amuse a few ale drinkers. His is the professional game and thus is his livelihood, rather than a fun couple of hours down the Swan. If money is draining out of the coffers of pro-snooker and prize funds are shrinking, that’s the equivalent of a wage cut for a factory worker for our Rockets and Whirlwinds. Maybe he has good reason to be concerned because in this current climate, bungee-jumping trips in Tibet are getting pretty pricy.
I have conspired with myself though to produce a five-point-plan of Snazz Factors to turn snooker into a hugely exciting, spectator-friendly event of enormous proportions which will ultimately draw more attention than the World Cup Final, Superbowl and Olympics put together.
End the silence. Under my new guidelines, the spectators at snooker matches will now be allowed to make as much noise as they like, even during the shots. It will then be incumbent upon the player to ‘snazz-up’ his personality and public persona so as to gain favour with the crowds. This will likely see the conclusion of Peter Ebdon’s career.
No more of this time-wasting business of ‘lining up your shot’. To combat this, a shot-clock of 10 seconds will count down, and if you haven’t taken your shot by the end of it then a Caribbean steel drum band will begin to conga around the table as they play the drums as loudly as they can. You have until they conga around the table to take your shot or they will barge into you with their portable steel drums and possibly dig you with their drumsticks.
Pocket fireworks. Every time a colour is potted, a huge flame the colour of the ball will shoot up out of the pocket. Umpires will have to risk serious burns to retrieve the balls and replace them, adding a danger factor previously not present in snooker.
Forfeit balls. Before each frame, both players must place their own ‘forfeit ball’ any where they like on the table. If your opponent pots your forfeit ball at any stage in the frame (which they can only do after potting a red or when all the reds are gone), you have to choose a random forfeit from a Lucky Dip box which you must perform immediately or throw the frame. The forfeits will include, among hundreds more; hopping round the table while waving your trousers around your head, singing obscure Latvian Karaoke and reciting Shakespeare while doing the ‘Running Man’.
Break fights. No more coin-tossing and alternating who breaks off a frame. The players will now fight each other for every break-off, Robin Hood and Little John style, using their cues as staffs. They will fight on top of the table and the first one to be knocked off it loses the break for that frame. This thus brings an element of the martial arts to snooker, again a factor previously missing from the professional game.
Apply all of these Snazz Factors to professional snooker and you will see an immediate surge in fan interest and sponsorship opportunities. Apply them not, and dear Ronnie you may have to get a proper job and then really worry about wage cuts.