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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: Stage Fright
August 2022

Did you see that great match at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, between Josh Filler and Tyler Styer?

Unless you were physically in the Sheraton Ballroom arena in for the epic first-round clash, the answer is certainly, “No.”

You can learn a little bit about the match and about the cue sports’ inclusion in the Olympicesque quadrennial international sports festival in this issue (pg. 32). In fact, this issue is one of the few places you can 1) find out the results, and 2) learn that the Games even took place.

Despite the fact that I do not believe pool will ever be part of the Olympics (a discussion for a future editorial), I fully embrace the notion that the cue sports’ membership in the International Olympic Committee is important for the growth of the sport. That the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS), the international sports federation that oversees pool, snooker and carom, is recognized by the Association of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations means a lot to the sport. In many parts of the world, it means funding for the growth of the sport. In some cases, a direct link between pool and the IOC means direct funding for players, even salaries. When a country’s athletes earn worldwide recognition through medals at international events recognized by their national sports federations, there is a greater likelihood that those countries will continue to invest in those sports because medals and accolades bring attention to the nations themselves.

All that is fine and good, and on that front the 2022 World Games was a huge success. Sixty-four cueists (16 men in pool, 16 women in pool, 16 men in carom and 16 men in snooker) got to represent their countries in an effort to win World Games medals. The arena at the Birmingham Sheraton, used to house several of the 34 sports contested in Birmingham, was elegant and contemporary. Fancy scoreboards, ample playing space, and tuxedoed players and referees added an air of professionalism to the contests.

The players themselves enjoyed the unique opportunity of being part of something bigger than solely a cue sports tournament. With more than 3,000 athletes representing 70-plus countries, almost all cohabitating in an “Athletes Village” on the campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, getting to mix and learn about each others’ sports offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And the quality of play in the cue sports competitions was fantastic.

In fact, almost everything about the 2022 World Games was perfect.

Perfect, that is, except for including the billiard community in the equation and showcasing the sport to fans and potential sponsors outside of our own little circle.

In that respect, the WCBS and all its members dropped the ball, just as they have done the previous five times cue sports took part in the World Games.

On this very page nine months ago, I begged the pool world’s governing body to do more than simply send out the invites, have equipment brought in and don neatly pressed suits for the medal ceremonies.

Once every four years the billiard industry has a chance to dress up and show off for people in sports outside of our little pool, for organizers and sports federation heads from around the globe, and for fans looking for something new to watch.

Oh, and it’s a chance to entice pool hardcores to join in and show the rest of the world that we love our cue sports.

The southeastern United States certainly has enough pool fans that could have been encouraged to be part of the showcase. I spoke to several poolroom owners in the southeast, and only one even knew the World Games existed.

But still, why couldn’t we watch any matches?

In fairness, the World Games had an exclusive broadcast partner in CBS Sports. But they only committed to air a few medal matches from the cue sports venue, leaving more than enough opportunity for a streaming partner to set up shop and distribute some early matches. To its credit, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), the pool arm of the WCBS, did reach out to several established streamers, none of whom were interested in setting up in Birmingham but not being allowed to show the final matches.

Fair enough but, in my book, that doesn’t give the WBCS a pass. The WCBS had four years to get ready for what is essentially a job interview for the sport. Is the WCBS rich? No. Neither the WCBS nor the WPA are the fat-cat organizations they are made out to be by so many people in the billiard industry — businesspersons, players, and fans alike.

But the WCBS has an obligation to present the cue sports at its polished best to the world in one of the biggest sporting competitions there is. Over the course of four years could it not solicit industry companies in all three disciplines to pool resources and make certain that the cue sports was a memorable part of the Games?

Pool fans in the U.S. missed out on a fabulous opportunity to see pool in an Olympic-like atmosphere in Alabama. And the WCBS fell short in making sure the world knew we exist...again.

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