Multiplying the Mosconi Cup Power

mosconi 2poolsynergy4

Of the few pool events broadcast on US TV, the Mosconi Cup is by far the most exciting.  Pitting two continents against eacother in a mixed format of singles & scotch doubles with an outlandish commentator, a fiery crowd, an assortment of flags flying in the stands, pride and prejudice galore and the weight of a continent weighing on each heart-racing shot … fist pumps and fits of rage….

THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT!!

In general, the world doesn’t care about pool.

In reality, the world doesn’t care so much about any sport; rather they care about the PEOPLE behind the sport.  It’s people that bring attention to a sport and then eventually, the sport itself becomes loved.  Once it’s loved, then it’s marketable.  Once it’s marketable, then it’s profitable.  

Nobody gave a damn about competitive swimming until Michael Phelps was "splash"ed all over our TV screens, newspapers and internets.  "Will he beat the record??"  "Will the man with the webbed feet get the 8 gold medals."  There was intrigue.  There was drama.  There was excitement.

People had NO idea who Shaun White was till his bright red hair was bouncing all over our TV screens with the underlying message, "I’m with America!"  Will our American powerhouse claim the gold?  Boom!  Let the endorsements roll in.olga

These jolts of mainstream popularity had NOTHING to do with swimming or snowboarding … they were the American people living vicariously through these men.  It wouldn’t have mattered what sport it was … just so long as you have a good story, throw in some drama, sprinkle it with an opposing side and ~VOILA ~

You’ve hit marketability.

I was having dinner with some friends the other night and ironically, my friend Henry asked me in particular, "Gail, what do you think is wrong with pool?  Why isn’t it bigger?"

Well if that ain’t a loaded question?

My reply was simple.  "When pool players stop thinking like pool players."

Pool players need to stop saying "how do I want to see pool," and instead ask, "what would mainstream America like to see?"  The spark for pool will not come simply by having our own "Federer-Tiger-Jeter-esq" showcase their talents to the world.  We’ve had many great pool players, champions, pioneers and phenoms.  Guess what?  Outside of the pool world, no one knows who they are and what they have accomplished.

Being great at something doesn’t guarantee you’ll be celebrated. 

Kevin Trudeau once did a survey asking everyday Americans "Do you know any top pool players?"  The top 2 answers mainstream America gave when asked?

1. Fats Domino (a singer, not the pool player Minnesota Fats)

2. Tom Cruise (god, spear me right in the heart!)

I’m not joking!

The skill of a person is SECOND, to the excitement of that person, that moment and the summation of it’s appeal.

People in general care about THEMSELVES, their emotions, their accomplishments, their views, their needs.  They want to FEEL like they themselves are champions – and if they can’t be a champion on their own, at the very least, they want to ride the wave WITH the champion, side by side, cheering them on as if the champion couldn’t do it without them….

…even if said champion has no idea who they are.

kodWhether that’s because their horse is from the same town as them, played the same sport as them, is blonde, brunette, Spanish, Pilipino, hot, whatever, it’s all about the connection and pool right now, isn’t reaching out and connecting with America.  Instead, it’s too busy complaining that no one is taking notice on their own.

The saddest part?  Pool has such potential.  With all the characters in the play of pool, we could be so revered.  An undiscovered mecca of entertainment that simply isn’t touching the hearts of the American people. 

Tony loves boxing!  LOVES it.  Yells at the TV, jumps up and down and spews verbal diarrhea of the mouth as the fight gets intense.  Me? hmm….I see the bloody meanness and cower to the barbarianism of it.

One day, Tony is watching the show 24/7 on HBO.  It’s a documentary that details the lives of the fighters in the coming weeks before a big fight.  After watching this, I too am now a fan of boxing.  Not a HUGE fan, but I do love me some Manny Pacquiao. 

<  And damn Clottey, throw just one damn bunch!  Geez!!!!  >

It’s because I now KNOW Manny Pacquiao.  Pacman and I … we DOWN! 

I know what he’s about.  I’m not watching two bullies beat each other up anymore.  Now I’m watching two men fight for their family’s future, for the pride of their countries, for a cause.

Evoking a human emotion.

Human interest is the key to pool thriving.  In a world of media overload, you can loathe it all you want but America loves politics, drama, vulnerability and very little privacy.  If pool wants to be mainstream, this awareness must be addressed.

See, IMHO, pool remains stagnant because many in the pool community want it that way … oh I know they say, "I wish pool were a big time sport …" but anytime anyone does anything outside of the norm, often times they are persecuted on the forums and discussion rooms of the pool arena.

It’s about connecting to the audience – and we need to connect to people other than ourselves.

mike "Like, Mike, I wanna be like Mike, Wanna Be Wanna Be Wanna Be Like Mike, like Mike, I wanna be like Mike"

Michael Jordan – Obviously one of the most recognizable sports figures ever!  While basketball was already a big sport, it’s was Jordan’s record breaking success that brought non-basketball fans to the games, all looking to see this freak of nature break the records over and over again.  Federer, Tiger, Jeter – these guys are the idols.  They are fortunate to be the best in a sport that has mainstream America at it’s beck and call.

Mika, right now is our Federer-Tiger-Jeter of pool.  The guy has it all going for him right now, and you know what, real America has NO IDEA who he is!

If we don’t make pool exciting … no one ever will know Mika.

Mika has a responsibility to win, but if he and anyone else wants pool to stop eating scraps they have to step outside their comfort zones and please America, not the AZ Billiards Forum.  And America wants excitement, drama, lust, inaccessibility.  They want to watch these people and more importantly, they need to want to BE THEM.

olympic poolIn a comical twist of irony, the day after my dinner, Jennifer Barretta tweeted, "Pool will always have one foot in the grave unless it can become an Olympic sport."

She’s exactly right.

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~ by g2 on March 13, 2010.

10 Responses to “Multiplying the Mosconi Cup Power”

  1. hmm . . . not too sure about this. (sorry miss GG! not trying to be rude. honest viewpoint.)

    i think that pool has a big share of characters and personalities. bottom line, i believe, is that no national network tv will touch a program unless it’ll bring them substantial profit. pool simply cannot generate revenue right now.

    therein is the catch-22: we need money to generate interest, but without interest, there’s no money. for example, if i throw a tournament that pays $1.7 million for first place, & $900k for second, you can bet that i’ll get many calls from major networks. without that cash, marketing can only do so much. i think this is why ipt was able to lure in so many people; it promised a LOT of cash. in the end it was a wash.

    have to wait and see, i guess.

  2. No worries P00lriah. I understand your viewpoint on money & agree money talks …. especially alot of money! We are buying presidential elections these days! Can’t say enough about the power of money!

    Consider this….Pilates, yoga, Chanel & Jimmy Choos, Olympic swimming, ….they all got their big break b/c somebody important said, “I can’t live without this!” Product endorsement is becoming more prevalent in human advertisement, than TV & Movies. The people are moving the product rather than the product moving itself.

    I think I failed to mention in my post how much potential pool has to be loved by mainstream America considering the variety of characters we have. I think if someone took notice, they’d see we were a gold mine in terms of entertainment. It’s just our job to display that to the right people!!

  3. G-Squared once again hitting the bullseye..People need something to be connected to or in this case..Someone..Your analogy of boxing is dead on…By being able to connect to someone and feel their energy and for that moment in time live vicariously thru that channel viola..we have a connection ..a stake in the game…a chance to beat goliath..thats whats its all about Dennis Hatch gets it so cmon Pool kingdom and get on board..time to think outside the felt and make some changes..Btw Gail I have a opening for a new agent you interested..cuz you would be a great one….Ra

  4. i love how u brought up chanel & jimmy choo . . . a hint for mr. robles perhaps?? 😯

    the social networking approach to pool promotion. could work. time to attend mondo celebrity parties. and u can attend in those chanels & jimmy choos that u mentioned. :mrgreen:

  5. I love the passion you bring to this blog! If only the public saw pool the way you do. I do think, though, that the negative images associated so closely with pool are deeply deserved, and until we move beyond gambling and hustling pool will stay where and what it is.

  6. I’m glad to see someone else focus on what the public wants, I wrote a bit about that this month as well. I’m still fairly new in the pool world and I can definitely see the variety of characters and I agree that the public would be able to identify with any number of them – *if* they had the chance.

  7. I agree with a lot of things in your article.
    And after the WTC a lot of players will see that pool must be more lice Mosconi Cup or WTC (From my point of view WTC is like Mosconi cup, just bigger)
    Emotion will be a magnet of popularity for pool

  8. GG: You make some great points. I believe one of the realities of hugesly successful marketing campaigns is that they are not usually driven by data, they driven by emotional connections. If the average consumer can connect with an athelete, regardless of the sport, the money from corporate America will flow. The question is: what event could garner such national attention for the billiards industry? If pool were an Olympic sport, and some up and coming teenage phenom shocked the pool world by placing in the top three, would that do it? What about some everyday average Joe (or Jill) who enters the US Open, then shocks everyone by running away with the title. Would that do it? What about a hugely successful cross over athlete? “Michael Jordon leaves basketball industry to puruse US Open Billiard Title. -Sports Illustrated” Would that be enough? I wonder what it would take??

  9. GG- I think you really got to the crux of it. Thanks for helping people (including me) see past the window dressings and see what’s really the “missing ingredient” in pool’s success. Fats Domino! OMG. Come to think of it, maybe instead of pool making it, we should be concerned about our entire species making it. (o o)
    O

  10. Wow! You hit the nail on the head! For the game to be really well recognized and supported by fans, we need to step out of our comfort zone. The emotional attachment between player and fan, needs to be established and grown continuously. Something I would like to see is as many exhibitions as possible throughout the year. Make them affordable to host. I believe the players that should be promoting this sport is the Womans Tour. I prefer to watch the Women to the Men, as the Women seem to exhibit much more Emotion in their play. If we are to get the audience involved Emotion is the key. I totally agree with you Gail! If i can be of any help down here in little old Eastern Canada, let me know!

    Dale

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