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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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March: Not Going Anywhere
March 2022

“The mosconi Cup should be Europe vs Asia so that it’s at least competitive.”

“Team USA should be allowed to have Canadians and players from Mexico on the team.”

“Jayson Shaw lives in the U.S. and should play for Team USA.”

“If the U.S. doesn’t get better, the Mosconi Cup is going to go away.”

I always shake my head and smile dismissively when I read those remarks in pool threads.

Hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years, and pool fans still don’t get it when it comes to the Mosconi Cup.

For the first dozen years of the Mosconi Cup, Team USA routinely dismantled their European counterparts. And this was when the event was staged in Europe every year!

And do you know what happened? European fans turned up in bigger numbers each year, first attending for free and then actually paying for the privilege of watching their boys get pounded into the slate.

Then the tide turned, and Team Europe became the dominant squad, launching into a long winning streak of their own.

Know what happened then?

Yup. Crowds continued to grow every year, even after the event started alternating years in Europe and in the U.S. In fact, tickets for the 2022 Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, where Team USA will once again be a prohibitive underdog, went on sale as this issue was off to the printer and 2,100 seats in the Bally’s arena setup were sold out in a matter of minutes — making it the largest-ever paid crowd to see a pool event in the U.S.

Try to understand this: The Mosconi Cup isn’t just a pool competition. The Mosconi Cup is an event built for fans. It’s the United States vs Europe. It’s American flags against European flags. It’s pride and bragging rights and the national anthem and patriotism. It’s “our boys!” And even if one of those boys isn’t one of your favorite players, it doesn’t matter. Over these four days, he’s your boy!

The obvious comparison is golf’s Ryder Cup, upon which the Mosconi Cup was modeled. Do you really think one side dominating the other in golf would jeopardize the future of the Ryder Cup? Of course not, in part because history is one of the things that makes events important. Pool doesn’t have a lot of events with true history.

Also, the Mosconi Cup is not a global competition. Was never meant to be one. Europeans and Americans (who are largely European immigrants!) are natural rivals. If we’re in a scrap, we don’t care if we’ve been knocked down 30 times in a row. We’re going to get back up, convinced that this time we’re going to knock them down. The same holds true for Europeans when it comes to their American counterparts.

You just won’t get that elsewhere. Chest-puffing European fans want a challenge? The mythical “Reyes Cup?” Have at it. It will be great competition and would likely draw somewhere in the vicinity of 100 fans. Why? Because there just isn’t a natural rivalry between Europe and Asia. It doesn’t resonate.

Please, feel free to regale me about how competitive and engaging the President’s Cup is. What? Not familiar with the President’s Cup? It’s golf’s broader-reaching team competition, which pits the U.S. against an International Team representing the rest of the world minus Europe. Huh. Thought for sure you knew that. Riveting event that is.

And if one side started to dominate the other in the Reyes Cup? Interest in that event would trail away faster than interest in an annual Canada vs South America curling challenge.

Do you know why more than 2,000 fans will pack Bally’s for the 2022 Mosconi Cup? In large part because American fans remember what it felt like to witness Team USA upset Team Europe in 2019, and they wouldn’t want to risk missing out on the unhinged celebration if it happened again.

Professional sports are full of perennial underdog franchises that still pack their arenas for virtually every contest. Why? Loyalty. Local pride. Something/someone to root for. We live every day with the realities of the world around us. We don’t have to be realistic about our teams.

And that is why the Mosconi Cup is different than watching an open tournament. It’s the same reason the pride and pressure that comes with the Mosconi Cup makes participation in the event the dream of every American and European player that wields a cue. And that is why the odds against one team or the other winning is inconsequential to the passion and intensity that the fan bases bring to the event.

Anyone who watched last year’s undermanned Team USA, with its captain being forced into duty, lead after two days and battle into the final day got a full dose of what the Mosconi Cup is about and why it will always be the sport’s premier event. It was drama and heart at the highest level.

Don’t worry. The Mosconi Cup isn’t going away anytime soon. So quit moaning. Stop acting like it’s become boring and unwatchable. It’s still the best show in pool, as well as the sport’s most marketable property.

Pool should be so lucky that the rest of its events were this predictable, one-sided and uninteresting!

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