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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.

March: Billiards Bailout
March 2009
Another day, another government bailout.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation's largest housing finance entities bungled the home lending market to the point at which the federal government had to seize control and guarantee $100 billion each.

Financial giant Bear Stearns collapses and the feds throw a $30 billion line of credit to make sure the sale to JP Morgan Chase happens.

Then there is the $99 billion loss suffered by insurance behemoth American International Group (AIG). Government to the rescue!

And don't even get me started on the auto industry bailouts!

My favorite, though? The adult entertainment industry! Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and "Girls Gone Wild" CEO Joe Francis actually petitioned Congress to pump government money into the porn industry to keep it, well, hustling along!

Which got me thinking. Why doesn't the billiard industry petition Congress for bailout money?

The government can bail out Freddie Mac. What about Freddy the Beard?

Let's face it. The billiard business is in dire straits. Retail stores that specialize in billiard products are closing at an alarming pace. Pretty soon the only place you'll find pool cues will be on the back wall at Kmart, next to the Jaclyn Smith Summer Collection.

Poolrooms are also struggling mightily, already shackled by smoking laws and age limits, and now squeezed by the economy.

But it's the pros who are suffering the most. The women's tour lost its biggest benefactor when Brunswick pulled its table sponsorship, and the WPBA is looking at a pared-down schedule. Not surprisingly, even sponsors are scarce, and even those sponsoring the tournaments have scaled back on their commitments. The men pros have it even worse, with the recent announcements that both the world 8-ball and world 9-ball championships have been scuttled for 2009. With tournaments in the U.S. already virtually non-existent, the loss of the big international events has left the men with few options.

So I'm thinking we should hit Congress now, before every other sport jumps in line. As a lifelong South Sider here in Chicago, I May have an "in" in D.C. My old neighbor is our new Chief Executive, so I'm happy to draft the letter asking for a bailout.

Our justification?

That's easy.

Pool is good for both the mental and physical health of the nation.

Like the Billiard Education Foundation states, "motor-skill development, cognitive learning and social-skill development" help make billiards "A Lifetime Sport." Billiards helps build mind and spirit.

Billiards also helps keep families together. As families lose confidence in both the economy and society, they're retreating into their homes. Is there anything that provides the same magnetic appeal that a pool table provides? If the opportunity to have a pool table in your home, or to have a place to go play pool disappears, what are families going to do? Play Sudoku?

This nation needs the billiards industry to be healthy, if for no other reason than to provide ESPN with programming to run up against the Super Bowl, the Masters, the Indianapolis 500 and the World Series.

Besides, the porn industry's rationalization for a government bailout was that American are now too depressed to be sexually active, and that's unhealthy for the nation.

But, really, who could think about sex when someone just offered you the 8 and the break?