I like to think I have universal appreciation of sport.
Across The World I have been lucky enough to experience such a variety of live sport, and have been thrilled by most of it. I’ve watched FC Barcelona at The Nou Camp (where I witnessed a 17 year old Lionel Messi score his first senior goal), rugby in New Zealand, ice hockey in Philly, golf in Dubai, cricket, american football, basketball, boxing, tennis, even handball…
Well today I experienced something new. I am currently on my way back home from Alexandra Palace in North London, after witnessing Neil Robertson beat Mark Williams 6-4 in The Masters Snooker quarter-final.
Snooker is without doubt a skilled sport. The World’s best players not only calculate perfect angles, they also have complete control over the speed, spin and placement of their cue-ball. At times they seem to be thinking three or four shots ahead, like a chess player, mapping their course across the felt and activating a long term game plan.
I do appreciate skill, and was amazed at how well these players executed their defence and attack…the problem is the game was so slow. Defence is king, and frames could last for hours as players slowly manoeuvred the white ball to gently touch the far cushion, making their opponent’s similar contained shot slightly more difficult.
The four hour match possibly had a total of five minutes of real excitement. This wasn’t helped by the small crowd (I would guess around 1000) occasionally softly clapping another defensive shot.
Did I enjoy it, yes. Was I thrilled by live snooker, no. Would I go again, probably not. My summation is that it is possibly a sport best watched whilst lying on the sofa, simultaneously flicking through the Sunday papers, recovering from a hefty Saturday night.
Although apparently in China it is one the nation’s most popular sports, with tens of millions tuning in to every match (including today’s)!
There must be a lot of terrible hangovers in China.