Sunday 15th January 2012
I was flicking through the TV channels this afternoon when I chanced across the first round of the Master's snooker tournament and I have to say I was disappointed. Two different players, separate commentators and referee, no ironing board or space hopper in sight, let alone near the snooker board. The players were not only not commentating themselves, if you looked into their eyes it was clear that they weren't even doing a commentary with their internal monologue - not speculating about their motives for playing the shot, not sowing the seed of doubt that they might miss the ball altogether. If an amateur (at the moment, I am hoping to become semi-professional this year) can play the game with these additional hardships then I think it speaks volumes about the state of professional snooker that they have it so easy. There isn't even a single wall too close to the snooker board and these ill equipped players didn't have a short cue between them. Plus their chalk adhered to the tips of their cues. I could go on. But it's not like me to run an idea into the ground and then keep digging.
Also the players are way too good. What's interesting about seeing people making pot after successful pot. There's no jeopardy, no anticipation of seeing a truly awful shot, no one pulling off a lucky rebound to find that they have inadvertently snookered themselves. Their triumph turning to despair. No one in the audience is going to be hit in the head by an errant cue ball here. Just pot after comfortable pot, followed by an excellent piece of safety play. The most exciting thing you can hope for is that someone might slightly misjudge their shot. And that's what you choose to waste your time watching or even paying to be close to.
Times are changing, my friends, and in the 21st Century people will want to see sport where the participants (or in the most extreme cases participant) are just not that good at what they're doing. It's more satisfying, more unpredictable and ultimately easier to identify with. "Hey, I'm shit at snooker too. Maybe one day people might pay to watch me being shit at it." In the post X Factor world, it's time that it's not just the entertainment world that is populated by people who aren't very good, or who are OK, but can't be arsed to put in the time to practice or work their way to the top. Why accept that with singers and not with sportspeople? Why do I have to be good at snooker (or have someone else to play against) in order to make it my job? I am going to prove that I don't have to be good or to practice or have any friends. I am going to change the face of sport, just as I have changed the face of comedy. Inefficiently and in a way that no one else has really noticed.
Ronnie O'Sullivan won the game (though which of his snooker personas he was playing as he did not say) but in the interview afterwards revealed that as a family man he was not as interested in touring the world to keep up his ranking (a lot of the tournaments take place in China these days), which might mean he drops out of being able to play in tournaments at all. I will thus send out an open invite to Ronnie to get in on the ground floor with the future of sport. If he's happy to play on a 6 by 3 table and have stuff in his way then he can come out on the road with me and play himself at snooker in some exhibition matches. As the more seasoned self-playing snooker player then I will obviously be at the top of the bill, but he can do his match, then I will do my match. At no point will be directly play each other, though if there is call for it then we could do a game of doubles where Me1 and Him1 play Me2 and Him2. The offer's on the board, O'Sullivan. I think this could make at least one of us a millionaire. But only because you are already a multi-millionaire and it's you who might become just a millionaire as a result.
It's too early to make any predictions about where Me1 vs Me2 snooker will go and what dark twists and turns it will take, although I am absolutely certain it will be included in the 2016 Olympics (with me playing myself wearing different national costumes and doing each accent as best I can) and be the most popular sport in the Universe by 2022. Like I say, I don't want to get ahead of myself. But I do hope to play some live exhibition matches this year, if I can find a suitable venue and ultimately would love to play to a packed crowd at the Reading Hexagon. We can dream.
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