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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: When A Lot Is Too Much
March 2023

In retrospect, this was bound to happen. And itís likely to happen again sooner than later.

Big things are planned for professional pool in 2023, and the year is starting off like gangbusters, with no less than three world championship titles up for grabs (two for the men and one for the women) in the first three months. Oh, and the circus made its way to Southern Indiana!

Not surprisingly, a glut of events in such a condensed period of time can make travel plans a tad hectic. One or two small glitches can wreak havoc.

Of course, thatís exactly what has happened. The perils of international travel bit two of the gameís biggest stars, preventing them from appearing in two of the sportís premier events.

American Sky Woodward was the first casualty of 2023, missing the World Pool Championship when ice storms grounded flights out of Texas for several days. With just three days between the end of the annual Derby City Classic and the start of the WPC, Woodward made a quick dash to Lubbock to spend 14 hours with his young son before zipping across the Atlantic to Kielce, Poland. Suddenly, flights were canceled in droves and Woodward found himself watching the action from his living room.

And more recently, box-office draw Josh Filler announced that he would miss Matchroomís Premier League Pool playoff because the window between the end of the Predator World 10-Ball Championship and the PLP was too short, and tinkering with his already-made travel plans would prove fruitless.

Yes, itís only two instances (thus far), and while that certainly doesnít constitute an epidemic, it does give pause.

Part of the problem in both instances is the lateness in announcing events in pool. Many of the big events are being planned, but exact dates and locations are being announced with precious little time for reaction. The Womenís World 9-Ball Championship, the World Pool Championship and Premier League Pool were all announced less than seven weeks before the opening lag. The Womenís World 9-Ball Championship, which started Jan. 19, was announced in late November. The World Pool Championship, scheduled to begin Feb. 1, was announced just a week before Christmas. And the 2023 PLP was announced Feb. 14, just three weeks ahead of the eventís March 6 start.

Of course, many players had already committed to travel plans for previously announced tournaments. Changing and/or securing travel three weeks prior to an event that is being conducted halfway around the world can be a challenge ó and costly. In Fillerís case, flights back to Germany on March 4 were already booked and paid for, leaving virtually no time to get to the United Kingdom for the PLP ó which, incidentally, Filler won in 2022.

The knee-jerk response is to challenge the promoters to pin down their dates earlier. Clearly, the logistics of putting on a major international tournament are challenging. Matchroom originally listed the PLP as taking place in June. Did they suddenly change the dates to March for grins? Not likely. No company promoting pool events faces the challenges that Matchroom faces in scheduling events. As a promotions company with dozens of events to schedule, factors like television partner availability and team logistics can make the process maddening. The same is true for Predator, which juggles its ambitious Pro Billiard Series with the annoying responsibilities that come with running a global manufacturing, marketing and sales company. I also cut the sportís two biggest promoters some slack because they are attempting to juggle 10 or more events. Single-event promoters like Diamond with the Derby City Classic and Pat Fleming with the International Open have well-established dates and locations. (And even then, ask those promoters how much planning goes into the events!)

So, I try to be empathetic with the challenges promoters are facing, but I also wonder if todayís promoters are trying too hard to lock up players and events, like itís some sort of contest.

I get it. Competition is great. And count me as someone whoíd rather see Predator and Matchroom stay separate and competitive, as opposed to teaming up. Competition has a way of elevating the sport, setting higher bars, dishing out more money.

But there has to be some common sense used in the race to see whether 9-ball or 10-ball is going to rule the world. The more events promoters pile onto the schedule, the more these conflicts are going to surface ó even competing with a promoterís own events. The Derby City Classic was ballyhooed as a Matchroom Nineball Rankings event, yet the World Pool Championship was scheduled nearly 5,000 miles and six time zones away three days later.

My main hope is that players arenít forced by the promoters/sponsors to choose events. Or, more importantly, that they are not punished in any way if they miss one promoterís event for anotherís. And donít think for a minute that either/both of those concerns arenít real.

This is a year of great hope and expectation in the pool world. Weíve never seen the quantity and quality of events that are scheduled to take place in 2023, with almost $2.5 million on the table.

Maybe, just maybe, the crazy idea of promoters sitting at one table (are you listening, WPA?) in the name of working together to grow the sport will make sense to all parties.

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