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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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January: Reflections & Resolutions
January 2010
NOT SURE what we call the first decade of a new millennium. The Aughts? (Think back to black & white movies, when an old-timer would say something like, “I survived the big earthquake in Frisco back in aught-6.”) Or the pre-teens? Or the 0’s?

Regardless of what the decade is supposed to be called, it’s time to bid it adieu. And, from my perspective, it’s not a moment too soon! It was a decade that featured more low points than highlights, and a decade that has left the game and entire industry reeling.

My list of the decade’s top stories?

2000 — The decade starts out innocently enough. All of the fears that the technological meltdown caused by Y2K would render poolroom table-time computer software inoperable, leading to chaos as players scrambled to loot local poolrooms and play for free, go unrealized. Not that everything works out according to plan. The Camel Pro Tour, having separated itself from the Professional Billiard Tour three years earlier, finally pulls the plug completely on pro pool. Several months later, the PBT’s lawsuit against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., alleging fraud and breach of contract, is finally decided. A jury awards the PBT $880,000 in damages.

2001 — In its closest brush with the Olympics, pool is put on display as a medal sport at the World Games in Akita, Japan. Pool is one of the 26 official sports at the World Games, and pool players are among the 2,300 athletes competing in Akita. Always one to seize the biggest stage, Jeanette Lee captures the gold medal in women’s 9-ball.

2002 — At 41, Earl Strickland wins his fifth, and most rewarding, world 9-ball title. In an epic battle, Strickland comes from behind to upend Francisco Bustamante of the Philippines, 17-15, at the Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, Wales. Conversely, in a release of truly non-epic proportions, “Pool Hall Junkies,” starring Rod Steiger, Christopher Walken and Ricky Schroeder, spends about six minutes in movie theaters before going to DVD. In the checkered history of pool movies, producer/director/actor Mars Callahan’s vanity project nestles in somewhere between the dubious “Chalk” and utterly forgettable “Baltimore Bullet.”

2003 — Self-promoting, I agree, but Billiards Digest’s 25th anniversary year produces one great issue after another. A series of interviews, dubbed “25 Questions With…” features compelling chats with a myriad of players, actors and promoters. Each interview is anchored by an image-capturing full-page photo. In my mind, the interviews remain the best collection of Q&As ever compiled on the sport. The 25th Anniversary Special Issue includes a pair of 3-D glasses and a collection of memorable pool shots in 3-D.

2004 — Under pressure from the board of directors to focus its efforts on trade issues, the Billiard Congress of America divests itself of its amateur league program after 27 years. The move causes a schism in the league system, which will take years to repair.

2005 — Enter Kevin Trudeau. Riding the high of his best-selling book, “Natural Cures,” the infomercial pitchman commits millions of dollars to create a pool tour. His foray into pool begins with a celebrity infested challenge match pitting his longtime pal Mike Sigel against Loree Jon Jones. Sigel beats Jones, 9-2, 9-2, to win $150,000. Pool’s savior has arrived.

2006 — After just three events, and facing spiraling production and purse costs, Trudeau pulls the plug on the International Pool Tour. Hundreds of players are owed millions of dollars. Pool’s savior has left the building.

2007 — Its debts paid off, the IPT resurfaces with live-streaming challenge matches, proving that no one forgives more quickly than pool players … particularly if there is a payday attached to the apology!

2008 — Europe dominates the world pool scene, with Finland’s Mika Immonen winning the U.S. Open, Germany’s Ralf Souquet winning the World 8-Ball Championship, England’s Darren Appleton winning the World 10-Ball Championship and Holland’s Niels Feijen winning the World 14.1 Championship. Meanwhile, the BCA, citing diminishing reserves, pulls the plug on several long-standing programs, including the annual Hall of Fame banquet and the BCA Open 9-Ball Championships.

2009 — The decade ends sadly for Billiards Digest with the news that Bill Marshall, aka Willie Jopling, has passed away at 83. A true Southern gentleman, Jopling had great dry wit and was one of the game’s best storytellers. His “Trick Shots” column had been a staple in BD for almost 30 years.

Which brings us to a new decade and, hopefully, a fresh new beginning for pool.

And, as always, the new year brings with it resolutions, and 2010 promises to be a cleansing year of sorts.

Therefore, I resolve …

… to read Kevin Trudeau’s “Debt Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About.” Anyone who can handle a $37 million judgment against him in federal court (Jan. 2009), and still show up on television every night knows a little something about curing debt!

… to spend more time with neglected kids, i.e., the men pros and the lady pros.

… to werk more hard on my speling and grammer. (After all, I am a professionel riter!)

… to spend less time on the phone. (And more time texting and tweeting.)

… to be more upbeat and optimistic, and less cynical.

I feel better already.

(Especially given the fact that while I take these new vows very seriously, I historically give up my New Years Resolutions for Lent!)


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