Improving the show I

A hot topic of conversation amongst snooker fans at the moment is what can be done by the governing body to ‘improve the show’ and while I have many ideas personally, one particular area that I think should be explored is actually what happens after the show…

Following the appointment of Barry Hearn to the board of the WPBSA, one observation that has been made by various snooker fans is that we can expect to see the introduction of walk-on music for the players as they come into the arena. Indeed this is what happens in other Matchroom Sport events such as the Premier League and the PDC darts events.

What is not so frequently mentioned however is what happens after the matches reach their conclusion. Currently and for as long as I have been watching snooker, when the winning ball is potted there is a handshake and the players pack up their cues and scurry off backstage as quickly as they can. Occasionally they will stop to sign a few autographs and celebrate with a fist pump, but generally they are out of the arena in under a minute.

For many years I did not give this much thought but during the last few tournaments I have come to see it as a rather dissatisfying way to conclude proceedings, particularly as a fan who has attended many matches live at the venues.

Contrast this procedure with what happens in the majority of tennis matches for example. There, the winning player will celebrate, sign a few tennis balls before hitting them into the crowd, sign the camera lens and then go and sign a number of autographs for the paying public. They will also give a few interviews to the TV stations around the world while still in the arena and generally I just find it to be a more satisfying end than is the case in snooker.

Now obviously I am not suggesting that snooker players should be throwing signed snooker balls into the crowd as that would not exactly be in the interests of health and safety! Also I appreciate that they cannot be too demonstrative out in the arena when they are playing in a two-table situation with another match in progress.

It would though be nice if they could do something more, perhaps be required to spend some time signing a few autographs or where there is just a one-table situation (the Masters, semi-finals etc), give a TV interview out there in the arena like at the Premier League.

Taking the interviews point further, often the only quotes that we get to see from the players are those reported on the World Snooker website from their post-match press conferences. Why can these not be made available to watch over the internet on the World Snooker site for us to watch, so we can see what happens in full?

Overall I would say that bringing the sport –  and by that I mean players, closer to the fans is something that must be encouraged in snooker’s biggest events. While pre-match interviews and introductions would also be a step in the right direction, what happens afterwards should not be ignored because after all, that will be what spectators leaving the arena are likely to remember.

I would be interested to hear what other fans think about this. Is the conclusion of a match in itself ‘enough’ for you or would you like to see something more, either in the arena itself or somewhere else at the venues?

Tomorrow I will be posting a second article on another area that I think should be addressed, the overall snooker experience for the spectators…