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From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.


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August: Sights and Sounds
August 2008
Sights seen (and not seen) and sounds heard (and not heard) at the recent Billiard Congress of America International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo in Charlotte …

Seen: NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. The son of racing legend Richard Petty offered the keynote speech to open the annual trade show. The 48-year-old Petty, who is still active in racing, is one of the sport’s most dedicated philanthropists and runs the Victory Junction Gang Camp for terminally ill children. And Petty proved to be a terrific speaker, funny and inspiring. What was ironic, however, was that his address to the industry’s mom-and-pop store owners was supposed to center on the challenges of operating a family business. But on the day prior to his speaking engagement at the BCA Expo, Petty sold controlling interest to the family’s 60-year-old Petty Enterprises to a private equity firm!

And therein, I suppose, lies the message.

Not seen: Professional players. Times are as tough for the sport’s top players, as they are for the industry’s businesses, but there was no excuse for the pros’ lack of attendance at the Expo. For the first time, the BCA’s annual pro 9-ball tournament — the Generationpool.com 9-Ball Championships — was held in conjunction with the industry trade fair. Yet precious few players stayed around long enough to walk the aisles of the industry’s biggest gathering. There may not be much sponsorship money to be had these days, but not taking even a day to mingle and meet is shortsighted. If nothing else, every pro player should have taken the time to go booth-to-booth and thank those companies who are still sponsoring events. A little acknowledgment goes a long way.

Heard: Rumblings of change. League operator Mark Griffin appears to be jumping headlong into the professional player’s association arena. The tireless Griffin engaged in talks with men pros and the Women’s Professional Billiard Association during the Expo to better gauge his role in launching a pro tour. Griffin later admitted that such a move would probably require him to structure and manage a formal membership base.

Not heard: Noise. If it looks like a funeral, and sounds like a funeral, there’s a good chance you’re at a funeral. The 2008 BCA Expo came close. The exhibit hall lacked energy. It lacked a vibe. It lacked noise! Next year, please allow the Rock-Ola booth to blare its jukeboxes. Or hire a DJ and position him next to the beer booth in the center of the trade show floor. If exhibitors are going to be stuck in an exhibit hall without buyers, let’s at least have a party!

Not seen: Buddy Hall. Mike Sigel. Dallas West. Jean Balukas. Earl Strickland. Robin Dodson. Jim Rempe. Lou Butera. The BCA’s annual Hall of Fame induction was an improvement over the past few years. The inductions of Allen Hopkins and Pat Fleming were conducted in the tournament arena between the men’s and women’s championship matches, and, for a change, the BCA actually preserved the ceremony on tape. The speeches were great (and brief!), and the crowd was sizeable and respectful. But only six living Hall of Fame members were at the makeshift dais. That’s embarrassing. Fiscal responsibility shouldn’t trump historical responsibility. The BCA needs to stop giving lip service to the Hall of Fame and its members. If you’re going to play the preserving-the-sport’s-history and honoring-its-legends card, play it right. Maybe the BCA should consider making the Hall of Fame a separate entity. It could hire a curator and fund the Hall, but the Hall would conduct its own fund-raising and run its own show. Just a thought.


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