Off the Ball

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Snooker left behind as we all demand bigger thrills

Michael McCarthy

Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30

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Ronnie O'Sullivan holding his fifth Masters having destroyed Mark Selby on Sunday night at Alexandra Park in London
Ronnie O'Sullivan holding his fifth Masters having destroyed Mark Selby on Sunday night at Alexandra Park in London

On Sunday night, Ronnie O'Sullivan destroyed Mark Selby at Alexandra Palace in London to win his fifth Masters. The coverage it received in Monday's press did not reflect a performance for the ages in the sport's second biggest tournament.

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On a Monday morning, 15 years ago, a display like this would be the talk of the water cooler. Nowadays, the water cooler is Twitter and Sunday night's timelines are dominated by more action-centric sports like the NFL.

Is it that there's more available to us, or have we changed? We are still giving over entire evenings to sport, but snooker has been left behind. In the glory days, there wasn't the option to watch the NFL, Spanish football or whatever else Sky are showing from every corner of the world.

Even so, snooker's relegation to minor sport status seems to be about more than this. People hark back to the days when we had the 'characters' in the game, but if there were 'characters' these days, would we know them? And isn't O'Sullivan the greatest character of all?

In truth, snooker feels like a relic from a bygone age. Men in dinner suits playing a slow, cerebral, non-athletic sport doesn't quite capture the attention of a younger audience raised on action and thrills. Even O'Sullivan, the sport's only star, doesn't seem to like snooker.

Irish Independent

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