When Ronnie O’Sullivan told RTE Sport earlier this week that he thinks young people should stay clear of snooker and play other sports instead, he caused quite a stir on Twitter.
One of the players to back up O’Sullivan was former World Champion Neil Robertson.
However, Robertson’s contribution did little to take the heat off O’Sullivan.
These disagreements tie in with snooker’s prize money debate, which was covered last week by snookerlife.wordpress.com (https://snookerlife.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/eyes-on-the-prize-is-snookers-distribution-of-prize-money-unfair/).
A leading argument in the prize money debate, as mentioned by Robertson, is that snooker’s 128-man tour means the money in the sport is spread too thinly to provide every professional with a comfortable income.
With the high cost of travelling around the world for tournaments and there being no prize money for first-round losers, only the game’s top players can make a healthy living.
Responding to a question on Twitter, Barry Hearn said that a player who earns £60,000 in prize money– and, based on last year’s money list, that would put said player in the top 35 earners in the game– would be left with £45,000 after fees and expenses.
Taking £15,000 as the cost of competing in a year, it can be calculated that last year’s 59th-biggest earner on the tour, the much-vaunted young Kyren Wilson, was left with around £13,000– hardly a fortune.
Some, such as Robertson, believe that if the tour were halved, there would be a better chance of players outside the world’s top 20 making a healthy living.
Going back to O’Sullivan’s words of discouragement aimed at young people, some would say no such words were needed.
Nick Risdale, 40, is the manager of Penarth Road Snooker Club, Cardiff, one of the biggest snooker clubs in Wales.
“I think the biggest problem with snooker here is the lack of youth coming through. It seems to be very popular in China but in this country it’s a sport in decline,” said Mr Risdale.
“Personally I think the XBox and the PlayStation must take a lot of the blame for the lack of young players in snooker. Lots of young people are more interested in playing their video games than in anything else,” he said.
If snooker were to promise a more secure standard of living than it does currently, would young people leave their video games behind and pick up a snooker cue?