However the first mistake anyone could make is ignoring the younger generation of fans. I myself am only seventeen, but I've followed the sport since I was six, and absolutely love it. I like nearly all sports, with the exception of Football, but snooker is the only one I feel truly passionate about. Now, I may be the only young person in my locality that is passionate about the game, with the exception of my 20-year-old bother, but I know plenty who like it, and very little who don't. Unfortunately, I don't know of any local girls who like snooker, and my own girlfriend hates it. But with the lads, it's a winner.
Whenever the World Championship rolls around, many of my mates become snooker experts for a fortnight. Unfortunately, it rarely goes beyond the main event, although occasionally you will get chat during the UK and the Masters. Now, it's a pity that this love of snooker seems to circle around just three tournaments (in truth, only one really captures the imagination amongst them), but the foundation is there. From what I can see, the main problem is that most of the other tournaments feel too 'samey'. Also, no sponsorship means less buzz.
Interesting to note that the two events that create the most buzz are the two longer format tournaments. I've mentioned many times that we need new formats, and what I'd like to see happen is listed here: viewtopic.php?f=59&t=270
Basically, the World Championships should be kept as it is, the UK extended, with longer semi-finals for the Grand Prix & Masters, and new format and name for the China Open. Also, around six tournaments carrying similar formats to what we have now, but hopefully with stronger sponsorship, and more atmospheric surroundings in proper snooker towns (ie no Telford or Newport). Although I have high hopes for new venues, higher prize money & more sponsorship, it is with disappointment that I forecast no extensions to tournaments. Thankfully though, Hearn has promised not to tinker with the majors, so at least they won't be shortened.
Formats like sets could be used, and should also be used for six-reds competitions. I don't think six-reds is the way forward by any means, but if we use a cutting edge format like sets in a non-ranking environment, it could do what it was supposed to do: attract younger fans. Overall though, this will not be a huge bread-winner, and I don't think Hearn will deal too deeply with it (it was Walker's idea, it must be remembered). I have no problem with a few six-reds events, but no ranking points.
Get interest back in at grass-roots. Nothing wrong with a few glorified pro-ams to spark interest in various places.
Market the top personalities. It's an absolute myth that we have no characters in the game. Neil Robertson, Liang Wenbo, O'Sullivan, Mark Selby, Mark Allen....just a few of many who can spark interest. Characters were what got many interested during the 80's, and not much has changed now.
How can we get more girls interested? Well, unless you get me playing professionally, it's a tough one to call maybe a few of our female posters have a few ideas?
I'm not suggesting that we should ignore or alienate the most important fans, those who've stuck by the game through thick & thin. And I certainly don't think that loud darts-style crowds are acceptable. But there's plenty that can be done, and their is more than enough room for a younger generation of fans.
Believe me, I know.
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