Thoughts about a poll

Starting yesterday, I put a 24 hours poll on twitter. Here you see it, and its outcome:


Why did I do that? Well, because I wondered how “marketable” the young players are as it stands. The answer clearly is: not at all. To keep the game afloat, and the sponsors happy, WST has to maximise the viewing figures, and to get the sport in the paper. Promoting the young players isn’t high in that agenda.

What the above poll seems to reveal is that half of the viewers want to see the top players, even if they are involved in a one-sided, not very interesting match. The vast majority of the other half actually wants to see a “real” match, not caring about who is involved.

Very few would chose to watch a match because a young player is in it. There is no real interest in those who are, or should be, in effect, the future of the game, and this is worrying.

It is even more worrying because, unless my memory betrays me, it wasn’t that way when I started to get seriously interested in snooker. There was excitement and anticipation when the likes of Judd Trump and Michael White turned pro. People on forums were discussing the up-and-coming amateurs. It doesn’t feel like that nowadays.

There are surely many reasons for that. One that comes to my mind is that there were a lot more big pro-ams back then, The Paul Hunter Classic was huge for instance. Some were streamed. There was no need to have Worldsnooker’s sanction back then. Later came the PTCs. We got to see the young amateurs mixing with the pros in a much less “formal” environment. Quite often, there was a players’ party, where everyone was “mixing”, pros, amateurs and fans. There was a social side to it that I feel has disappeared, or, at least, partially disappeared.

One other reason I can see – and I thought long and hard before writing this – is that the majority of really young upcoming players, the under 25 ones, are no more British whilst snooker remains profoundly UK centric. All qualifiers are held in the UK, the Q-school is held in the UK.  As a result, most non UK players have no choice but to come and live in the UK. It’s also likely that the majority of people discussing snooker on social media – usually in English – are from the UK/Ireland, and most of the feedback WST gets comes from them. There is almost always a tribal side to sport. People – most of them anyway – will support sportspersons originated from their contry/nation/region …



5 thoughts on “Thoughts about a poll

  1. Hm. First just a little nitpicking: what if in “<30" "30" was understood as ranking? (Especially, bc the word "ranking" features in the first option.) I mean, most young people will be ranked below 30, but there are also some older people ranked below 30, nobody cares to watch, thinking that they are not ranked higher, because they are not very good. So why watch them?

    Having said that: it does not surprise me that people prefer to watch players they know. Only few people are like Lewis here, who goes to scoop young talents, most have favourites or at least know from whom they can expect a good game and will think that if the young ones are really good, they will show up in the televised stages (QF, SF, F). And as stated above: it is the case for most sports, tennis show-courts have always been kept for big names. I’d suspect that only a fan of a given player (or of the game) will watch early rounds, the rest will start at QF/SF/F.

    I have to say that I do agree with your worry that it is because the up-and-coming players are not British. I wouldn’t go that far, but they are not Europeans either, they are mainly Chinese and they are not loved (Lewis said that) as much as a European player would be in the eyes of Europeans.

    And this brings me to the question: what kind of people answered your poll? Bc if it is the average viewer, there is nothing to be surprised at. If it is people who do care about the game and its future, then it is more worrisome.

    Take comfort in the fact that the legends are not that enticing either… 🙂

    • “And this brings me to the question: what kind of people answered your poll? Bc if it is the average viewer, there is nothing to be surprised at. If it is people who do care about the game and its future, then it is more worrisome. ”

      That is a good point young players are the future.

      Personally i voted for evenly looking matches that could easily be 16 year old v 16 year old and its a competitive match that’s all i want from any sport as a neutral however a match where both players play well is preferable and if that’s 2 young players then brilliant.

  2. Isn’t it the same for all sports?

    MOTD features top teams. Forget League 2 and the rest. No place for non-league on TV.

    F1 mostly shows the leaders. Not the battles at the back and/or the middle. What about all the lower level motor sport as well?

    Wimbledon features centre court
    etc etc

    What snooker needs is a return to the tiered draw the way it was in the world championship recently.
    Let the lower ranked players earn their reward of playing against the top guys.
    Let them earn money while they do.

    Snooker is becoming a circus and unless something is done soon the public will be laughing AT the players, not cheering them on.

  3. No mon the way young players is being market is wrong because the only way they get on TV is to play Top Players, and they get hammered because of lack of experience on the big stage and more than likely playing a idol.

    If you get a Match Between say Zhao Xintong v Jack Lisowski exciting match up but more Often than Not a match featuring Judd Trump v Ken Doherty or Ronnie O’Sullivan v Jimmy White would have been shown so the public hasent got the chance to get to know what those players got to offer.

    Last 128 is the perfect opportunity to showcase these players against each other Every player has to build up a fanbase. if you had asked this poll in 1992 despite the Fact Ronnie, John, Mark had turn pro the result of the poll would have been roughly the same there’s never young players its the establishment. Ronnie burst through very quickly, but he’s a one off.

    • Yes, that’s right. At least, broadcasters should have the flexibility to show some brief highlights from other tables, so for example if Zhao Xintong gets a 100 break on table 8, it can be shown. We all know that almost every table has a live-stream camera, even if some in the hierarchy won’t admit it.

      It also helps if organisers or top players mention players by name, such as Ronnie’s praise for Louis Heathcote, or WST’s interviews (most recently Fan Zhengyi). I’m sure they really appreciate that, as if they are valued professionals, rather than just hapless losers.

      But there clearly does need to be some kind of structural change, or else I see snooker in real trouble in 10 years’ time. The professional game could be finished within 20 years.

      What’s so frustrating is that I have the answer! But the establishment is stuck in their ways…

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