With the UK snooker championship looming this Sunday it’s time stock up on the pizza, beers and – oh wait, it’s snooker. It might be December, and the table might be a cornucopia of green and red but there’s absolutely nothing festive surrounding this week’s tournament.
Snooker impresario Barry Hearn might be trying to jazz up the “sport,” but he’s clearly never heard the expression “polishing a turd.” For a start, any sport that plays its world championship in Sheffield is in trouble, and that’s not considering any of its other problems, such as:
#6 The Players
You can generally tell how good a sport is by how many countries play it: football is played worldwide, cricket is played in the countries we used to own, but the fact that sports like snooker, darts and baseball are played by only a handful of countries says it all.
If everyone who plays it is English, with names like “Williams” and “Davis” then how are we supposed to decide who to support? We can’t base everything on how brainless they may or may not look and it’s not like their nicknames add any insight; “the Jester from Leicester?” Really? What exactly about him makes him a jester other than the fact that his hometown happens to rhyme with it? I daren’t ask what nickname someone from Scunthorpe would have.
#5 It takes hours
Let me say it plain and simple: if it takes more than ninety minutes then it’s no longer a sport, it’s a hobby. Hobbies are what people do before sports are on. That’s not to say there’s a problem with hobbies, so long as it’s in the middle of the day when you’re avoiding doing work, or if you can drink beer while doing it, but if you’re watching a hobby during prime-time TV then it’s just plain sad.
#4 The clothes
If you can confuse a sports uniform for what you wear at a wedding then it’s not a sport.
Actually, scrap that – no-one would be seen dead in shiny nylon waistcoats, save for jockeys and used car salesmen.
#3 It requires maths
No-one sits in front of the television so that they can do maths. In fact, that’s the complete opposite of why the television was created. If Pythagoras had been alive now he’d have never have invented the triangle (or whatever it was he did), he’d be watching Coach Trip. And who’s to say which is more worthwhile?
Snooker is essentially a very long maths puzzle. It’s about angles and geometry, and you sit silently until one man has amassed more points than are left on the table. And when you think that’s over you realise it’s just one frame, and then you have to sit silently until one of them has won more frames than there’s left to play. All this means you need to concentrate – and more importantly – you need to be sober.
#2 No-one can get hurt
Cricket isn’t exactly a great sport, but at least they got one thing right; they hurl balls around at ninety miles an hour so there’s the very real prospect of someone getting hurt. They wear helmets and padding because, above all else, sport is about overcoming the human body. No-one can honestly say that when they hear about a horrendous injury they don’t say, “I can’t wait to see it!”
The closest you can get in snooker is a ball rolling off the table and needing to be cleaned.
#1 It doesn’t matter who wins, they’re all the same
All snooker players style their hair exactly the same. Because they don’t work up a sweat they can look their best all game long. Of course, nowadays looking one’s best involves spending hours styling your hair to make it look like you haven’t styled it at all.
If you lined ten snooker players up in a row they’d fall into three categories; a) the ones with hair gel, b) the fat ones, or c) Ronnie O’Sullivan. If you can’t tell the difference between them, then what’s the point in supporting any of them?
And speaking of Ronnie O’Sullivan, he himself called snooker “boring” and lambasted the lack of personalities in the game. Football works because in every match everyone has a favourite, and in the other sports that people take an interest in once a year (tennis, etc.) we go for the most English-looking one.
The only thing we have to go on in snooker is the walk-on music. Unfortunately, snooker isn’t boxing – there’s no trash-talk or build-up. They just walk down a flight of stairs. And when Ding Junghui walks out to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face it doesn’t exactly strike fear in the opponent. It just looks like a camp busboy has got very lost.
Don’t believe me? During last year’s world championship Judd Trump was asked what his favourite drink was. He said, “I like water.”
I rest my case.