sports gazette

Why snooker should listen to Ronnie O'Sullivan

Published: 2 Dec 2016

O'Sullivan has been making headlines for more than just his play this week.

 Ronnie O’Sullivan has been making headlines all week, and not just because of his incredible form.

The main story should be, that 40 year old, five-time world champion, O’Sullivan has dominated his competition through his first four matches, dropping only three sets and potting six centuries.

However, in typical Ronnie O’Sullivan fashion, his personality off the felt has overshadowed his play at the table.

O’Sullivan made some comments earlier in the week comparing snooker as the “Car boot sale” of sport and wanting more corporate sponsors similar to F1 and tennis.

O’Sullivan did not help his own cause later in the week either, by mentioning that the pro tour should be cut saying: "There are a lot of players I watch out there and they can't play,"

Controversial comments aside, there is some merit to his beliefs. Football, F1 and tennis have long since turned to major corporate sponsorship. While there may have been some initial backlash, people now rarely think twice about kit sponsors and obvious advertisements.

Even the United States, who have generally been against jersey sponsors, are turning towards the football model.

The Philadelphia 76ers became the first NBA team to put a sponsorship patch on their jersey starting this season, even though the NBA has never been hurting for money and popularity.

Sponsorships go hand in hand with the quality of competition, which brings up O’Sullivan’s second comment.

As blunt as it was, consumers want to see the best competition. They come to see the O’Sullivan’s, Mark Selby’s and Judd Trump’s of the snooker world.

It is fun to watch O’Sullivan thrash opponents 6-0, but sponsors and fans alike would much rather see the 18-14 grudge matches between the worlds best instead a meaningless round of 128 matchup.

O’Sullivan was unfairly criticized by pundits, as setting a higher standard of play would solve many of the financial issues of snooker.

Snooker is risking losing their biggest draw in Ronnie O’Sullivan by remaining stagnant as they have for the past two decades.

If World Snooker wants to survive, they need to swallow their pride and listen to the man who is singlehandedly, keeping snooker afloat.

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