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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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September: Media Rights
September 2009
DESPITE ALL the criticism that the media withstands on a daily basis … it’s too controversial, it’s too soft, it overreacts, it misinforms, etc. … the media occasionally gets it right.

(By now you’re thinking, “Okay, this is where the media pats itself on the back.” Admit it. That’s what you’re thinking, right?)

I think the billiard media deserves a pat on the back.

(Fine. You were right. Happy now?)

I’m the first to admit that the media should report the news, not be the news. But when the media bands together to do something positive, I think it deserves to be noted.

Two and a half years ago, a group of people who cover the sport through various media — magazines, Web sites, video, announcing — joined together to form the United States Billiard Media Association. Admittedly, the initial push to form the media association was directed toward a single goal — to take over stewardship of voting for the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. (The USBMA’s greater purpose is to elevate the visibility and status of the sport, and to provide support for its members against obstruction of free speech.) The sport/industry’s media members overwhelmingly felt that the BCA’s voting procedure — in which Hall of Fame nominees were voted into the Hall by the association’s “voting members” — was outdated, and the voters largely unqualified. Where at one time the BCA’s voting membership was made up primarily of cuemakers and table manufacturers, most of whom where directly involved in pro tournaments, the association had evolved into a membership heavily skewed toward product manufacturers with little attachment to the sport side of billiards.

The USBMA role as gatekeepers of the Hall of Fame resulted in a shift of voter eligibility to media members, historians, promoters and Hall of Famers. Few will argue that the most deserving players have been elected to the BCA Hall of Fame in the three years since the formation of the USBMA.

But the USBMA recently took a much larger and more active role in the Hall of Fame arena, one that deserves recognition.

The BCA’s announcement in August 2008 that it was suspending funding for the annual Hall of Fame banquet raised two possibilities: one, that 2009 inductees would enter the Hall un-feted, or two, that the lack of ceremony would prevent elections at all.

Over the course of several months and numerous e-mail exchanges, the USBMA membership determined that electing players who have devoted their lives to the game into the BCA Hall of Fame without proper pomp was unacceptable. The membership voted to produce the Hall of Fame banquet on its own. Media members have offered their time and resources to help properly welcome 2009 inductees Johnny Archer and Allison Fisher into the BCA Hall of Fame. Barry Behrman and the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships have graciously offered to play host to the banquet, to the point of suspending matches so that as many fans and players as possible can attend. It should be a grand night.

But could you imagine Archer and Fisher, the best players of their generation, being elected into the Hall of Fame and receiving their symbolic green blazers and commemorative plaques and rings in the mail? (The BCA would never have trivialized the inductions to that extent, but you get the point.)

And the point here is that the sport and industry can be proud of its media members. The people who cover billiards may make stands and hoist opinions that not everyone agrees with, but they’re also willing to back up their convictions with action.


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