The start OF a new year always brings with it hope and promise. The pool world could certainly use a little hope and promise. The year past will hardly be remembered as a banner year for the sport.
The men pros spent 12 months checking their mailboxes, and still haven't been paid in full from the International Pool Tour for services rendered in 2006. Tournaments of substance were few and far between, with a number of pros (including America's longtime No. 1, Johnny Archer) opting for the security of "real" jobs many for the first time in their lives.
The lady pros, of course, played Groundhog Day, punching their customary seven-tournament time clock and replaying the same events with the same players and, with a few exceptions, the same results.
And so, it is with great anticipation that we hurl ourselves into 2008.
And what do we have to look forward to?
What am I? A fortune-teller?
What I can tell you, however, based on years of painstakingly developed pessimism and cynicism, is what NOT to look forward to in 2008.
- Challenge Matches: Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies. I understand that sponsors aren't lining up to dump big money into a pro tour, and promoters are finding it difficult enough to pull together decent tournaments, but paying two players at time for uninspired made-for-the-Web matches is a fast track to trimming the rolls of professional pool players to a half-dozen. And that's assuming the combatants are actually receiving the announced prize monies. (Also known as "The Savers-R-Us Tour.")
- The BCA Hall of Fame Banquet: True, finding the right time, venue and presentation for the annual induction has been tricky in recent years. But the BCA is considering staging the HOF ceremony between matches at the EnjoyPool.com 9-Ball Championships. Sorry, but turning the induction of a player like Johnny Archer or Allison Fisher into a halftime show can't be the answer. That's no ceremony. That's a Hall of Fame Banquet-To-Go.
- Another Kevin Trudeau Best-Seller: On the heels of his poetically-timed "Debt Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About," Trudeau is rumored to be finishing his new book, "Sports Tour Business Plans 'They' Don't Want You To Know About."
- More World Championships: We can never have enough. Throw in a dozen foreign players, hang a few flags on the wall, print some posters, and Voila! World Championships Made Easy. Next year, the Galactic 9-Ball Championship, brought to you by NASA. Beam me up!
- "This Month With Shane": The monthly magazine interview in which Shane Van Boening describes how he dominated yet another tournament field to win his umpteenth title in a row.
- The Classic Tour Without Peg Ledman: As one of the founding sisters of the WPBA Classic Tour (with Shari Stauch and Vicki Paski), Peg Ledman has proven to be one of the most loyal and passionate foot soldiers the game has ever had - first as player, then as an association board member and president, and, for the past six years, as manager and administrator of the Classic Tour. Ledman, whose PL Promotions has secured the Tour's event sites, scheduled and produced the events, and has worked closely with the Tour's sponsors and television producers, terminated her contact with the WPBA in November. Ledman cited "philosophical differences" with the association's board of directors as her reason for calling it quits.
Over the years, the WPBA's board has gone through numerous changes, and on more than one occasion, personal agendas seemed to guide board decisions. The one constant during all these years has been Ledman, whose tireless work, dedication and selflessness will be almost impossible for the WPBA to replace. For sure, it will require more than one person to fill her shoes.