The juicy news (for our noble game) is that NKOTB (if you know what that stands for, you’re old) ABP (Association Billiards Professionals) released a statement yesterday regarding the 2011 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships:
ABP Pro Players Not Attending the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship
From ABP General Attorney Dennis Walsh
Chicago, Illinois — It is with regret that the general professional body of the Association of Billiard Professionals will not be attending the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship promoted by Mr.Barry Behrman. Nor will these ABP pros attend the Masters 10-Ball or any event promoted by Mr. Behrman because of monies owed to players and lack of secure funds of prize money before each of his events.
Read the rest of the statement, including a list of players (and it’s an all-star roster) who will not attend the U.S. Open, here.
Hold on a second.
Aww yeah, now I’m good to go.
Disclaimer: I ain’t no badass Investigative Journalist, just a random hack that likes to ramble, so if you’re looking for Chris Hansen or Robert Stack, now’s the time to scoot on over to some other blog.
In recent years, Barry Behrman has had problems paying, in full, some of those who cash in his events at the conclusion of those events. He’s not the first to have done it (that’s what I’m guessing — but I be a comparatively young whippersnapper in billiards), he won’t be the last (because this is the human race we’re talking about here), and he’s not the one who did it in grandest style (Kevin Trudeau and the International Pool Tour wear that tiara).
Behrman wrote an essay/manifesto/press release “American Professional Pool” in March of this year that states his operating costs for the U.S. Open is $150,000 and he cannot always recoup his costs with gate receipts (that’s because at $10 per session, that’s 15,000 session tickets he’d have to sell over the course of a week).
“American Professional Pool” was a response to the rumblings regarding his Masters 10-Ball tournament held in early March. Behrman stated in another press release, “Barry Behrman Statement on Masters 10-Ball”, that the top eight players at that event were not paid at the conclusion of the event and received post-dated checks. I have since been told there is still money owed to players that have not been paid (whether due to bounced checks, etc., I do not know). The reasons he gave for the shortcomings of the Masters 10-Ball included weak gate receipts and conflicting dates with a major international event being held across the globe in Fujairah, thus diluting the star power of the field.
In summary, Behrman has had problems paying all players ever since Shane Van Boening won the 2007 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, which was worth $50,000 — (somewhat ironically) the event’s highest first-place payout to date. He was paid in installments then and Behrman’s events have struggled since.
Reading Behrman’s somewhat all-over-the-place statements, it seems to me that he emphasizes continuing to add money and/or put on events for the players even as he is struggling to pay them. In essence, he is “playing on air” in billiards parlance or in regular world parlance, “running up debt on too many credit cards” after which he tries to work out a payment plan or defaults entirely.
Everyone appreciates your efforts to keep pool alive, but shit — you gotta pay what you say you’re gonna pay. Otherwise, you’re just killing pool anyways by sowing distrust and cynicism in its best players, those same players you say you are supporting.
I think you have to reduce the operating costs (how much is it to rent the Chesapeake Convention Center?!) or reduce the prize money in order to keep the longest-running and most prestigious professional pool tournament in America on life support. Of course, only Behrman really knows how much it costs to run the event and what costs can and cannot be cut — I know the bagpipers are a complete necessity.
Another idea: adopt the format of most lottery systems whereby winners can choose a lump-sum payment or a series of installments. Hey, it works when the purse is $300 million, it might work when the purse is $200,000.
Association Billiards Professionals
(Yeah, I thought it should have read “Association of Billiards Professionals” but I’m just going off what they have on their website as of right now.)
Professional pool players: They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore!
The last time we had this sort of “players’ union” type dealio, it was known as the UPA (United States Professional Poolplayers Association) and headed by one Charlie Williams. They seemed to do all right for a while. There were some events. Then there were less events. Then I heard Chazz Williams sold the entity to a friend. Then there was nothing. Then they started a league. Then I heard nothing. Then I visited their website (just now!) and saw they trademarked the phrase “The Evolution of Pool™“. Then I had a drink.
By all accounts, Chucklez Williams is an interesting figure in the billiards world. There is much information out there regarding him and his practices, but that is for you to find out, should you really want to know. Corey “Prince of Pool” Deuel punched him once and I hear CW (promoter, not TV network) is the wizard behind the ABP although he is keeping a low profile.
how now brown cow
This standoff could be interesting.
It is possible that the boycott of the U.S. Open is going to be the final nail in its coffin. I’m not sure if the ABP has attempted to have talks with Barry Behrman before going on strike as a last resort.
The boycott will also have an impact on what Americans make up the Mosconi Cup team. The Mosconi Cup is coming back to America and will be held in December at the MGM Hotel & Casino (you can keep track of who’s at the top of the lists here). The U.S. Open is the last event used to finalize rankings for the Mosconi Cup and attending it (and finishing well) can be the tiebreaker for a lot of players looking to be on the team.
Furthermore, when you make it to the Mosconi Cup team, I hear (correct me if I’m wrong) players get a certain amount of money ($10,000) just for being on the team and the winning team gets a significant bonus (another $10,000 per player). If this is true, that’s a whole lotta moolah and I’m pretty sure Matchroom Sport has no problem paying its players at the conclusion of the event.
So, a potential guaranteed $20,000 is at stake.
I’m not saying the players won’t stick it out with the APB.
I’m just saying it could be interesting.
- ABP (Association Billiards Professionals)
- “ABP Pro Players Not Attending the 2011 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship” (ABP, July 6, 2011)
- “Pinoy cue artists join boycott of US 9-Ball Open” (ABS-CBN News)
- “Barry Behrman Statement on Masters 10-Ball” (Barry Behrman, March 5, 2011)
- “American Professional Pool” (Barry Behrman, March 18, 2011)
- U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships (official site)
- International Pool Tour (official site)
- United States Professional Poolplayers Association (official site)
- Disapproving Rabbits (official site)