RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON ‘CAR CRASH’ POLITICS IN SPORT – ‘SNOOKER BECAME A BIT TOXIC IN MANY WAYS’
“I emotionally untangled myself from the sport probably 10 years ago, in many ways, and I just made snooker work for me,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open. “I hear a lot of the bottom-ranked players complaining about various things, and the top-ranked players complaining about things; like I said, I feel like snooker became a bit toxic.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan has opened up about how he felt that ‘snooker became a bit toxic in many ways’ and the level of involvement he now wants to have within the sport.
The 45-year-old, who would love to win a seventh world title in his illustrious career, has spoken candidly about his frustrations with getting involved in the politics of the sport and his current detachment from it.
In 2018, O’Sullivan claimed that he was “ready to go” to form a breakaway “Champions League-style” snooker tour after he said he was unhappy with the number of events on the regular calendar and the travelling required.
Despite saying that he wanted to make positive changes at one point, The Rocket has said that he “emotionally untangled myself from the sport”, and is now happy with just doing his own thing.
“To be honest, I emotionally untangled myself from the sport probably 10 years ago, in many ways, and I just made snooker work for me,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport in a special extended interview ahead of the English Open.
“There was a time where I thought things could be done differently and would be beneficial to everybody on the tour. But when you never got the support of your other players, I just kind of went, ‘You know what, it’s never going to happen‘.
SO NOW, WHEN I HEAR A LOT OF THE BOTTOM-RANKED PLAYERS COMPLAINING ABOUT VARIOUS THINGS, AND THE TOP-RANKED PLAYERS COMPLAINING ABOUT THINGS; LIKE I SAID, I FEEL LIKE SNOOKER BECAME A BIT TOXIC IN MANY WAYS.
O’Sullivan conceded that, while he wanted to make changes, he did not feel as though he could do what he wanted and so has decided to simply see playing snooker as his “hobby” and “as fun”.
“There was no unity and we all couldn’t try and get what’s right for all the players,” he said. “So I decided to kind of like disentangle myself from snooker, and it’s better that sort of way because now I do all my other stuff with all my sponsors and that’s all great.
“I kind of see that as what I do for a living, if you like, and I enjoy to do that, and I just play snooker as a hobby, as fun. I enjoy playing, but by doing that I don’t want to have an opinion.
“I don’t want to feel like this can be changed and, in many ways – and it’s probably not good thing – I hope it actually sometimes gets worse, because I think sometimes you can see the car crash happening. But unless people want to sort of unite, I suppose in many ways, then the car crash will just keep on continuing to happen.
“I’d rather not be emotionally involved in that, because I’ve got the utmost respect for any snooker player that plays on the tour, and you’re just fighting for them in many ways. But at some point you’ve kind of got to go, ‘It’s not working, I’m better off just being quite tunnel vision about what’s right for me and doing what’s right for me, and just taking the best bits from it’.
“I’ve never been so happy, really, because I love snooker and I love playing, but it wouldn’t be good for me to get involved in the politics or even having an opinion on what I think would be good for the game because it’s pretty pointless, really.”
So, Ronnie is disillusioned about “snooker politics”. Surely he’s not alone. In the past he has often spoken against the views of the governing body, and been accused of “hurting” his sport. He has not always been right, but he has not always been wrong either, far from it. Some fans are convinced that he hates his sport, and he has said that he hates snooker a number of times in the past. But then, he has suffered, still suffers, from mood swings and severe bouts of depression and I guess that when he is in the middle of a “low” he probably hates everything about his life…
The truth however is that he loves his sport, as Alan McManus explained during his interview with Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe:
Alan McManus reveals the side of Ronnie O’Sullivan he’s ‘lucky to see’ behind the scenes
Alan McManus has the pleasure of working with Ronnie O’Sullivan in their roles as television pundits, and while the Scot knows when to ‘back off and not engage’ he says he is lucky to see the Rocket hugely passionate about the game he loves.
McManus and O’Sullivan were colleagues in the Eurosport studio at the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast earlier this month after the Rocket was beaten by Yan Bingtao in the last 16.
Earlier in the tournament O’Sullivan had criticised the atmosphere at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, saying he was ‘very bored’ and he ‘wasn’t really bothered he he won or lost,’ after beating Andy Hicks in round two.
Angles says that when the six-time world champion is in that kind of mood, he chooses to just leave him to it, although he then gets to see the other side of O’Sullivan later in the event.
The Rocket went from downbeat to quite perky after he was eliminated from the tournament and McManus had a great experience with him as they watched the climax of the event.
McManus told the Talking Snooker podcast: ‘Sometimes, I think if he’s in that sort of mood and he doesn’t want to engage in a positive way about the snooker or whatever he’s talking about, I just think, “I’ll back off and not engage with him.”
‘If he doesn’t want to talk about it he’s not gonna.
‘The flip side of that, of course, is when he’s really up for it. I’ll say this…later in the week, Ronnie had lost, so he had a couple of days in the studio.
‘We were watching the matches and he’s into it, he loves it. John [Higgins] was doing some special things and he was loving it, he loves the game.
‘I’m lucky I get to see that side of things and he really loves it.’
McManus also enjoyed O’Sullivan’s humble side, surprised to see the 37-time ranking event winner asking how players pulled off shots that surely he could also manage.
‘We sit and have a laugh when somebody plays a good shot. It’s actually ridiculous because he’s rolling about laughing after a good shot, going: “How did he do that?”
‘But you think, well…oh, it doesn’t matter Ronnie. But he’s a snooker fan. He’s engaging, he can be a bit up and down, but who can’t in other ways?
‘Ronnie chooses to be a bit up and down in press things or on camera or whatever but at the end of the day he’s a big snooker fan and he loves it, and why not? He’s quite good.
‘He’s a good guy, he’s alright, you know. I really like him.’