Ronnie O’Sullivan has had a love/hate relationship with snooker ever since turning professional back in 1992 as a 17 year old kid. The five time word champion has walked away from the sport on more than one occasion only to return.
In recent years the genius of the baize, O’Sullivan, has had a much calmer philosophical approach towards snooker and he is no longer the unpredictable character he once was in his younger years. Having said that though, he still voices his opinion on the game and sometimes harshly.
Today on a radio interview in Ireland (2FM) ahead of the Irish Snooker Legends Cup, O’Sullivan spoke out again about his true thoughts on where he thinks the game is going, or not going for that matter.
When O’Sullivan was asked about aspiring young players looking to become professionals, O’Sullivan said ” Don’t do it. That’s the advice I give to my son.”
“I would say: ‘Put your gear away, go and take up golf, take tennis up. Stay away from this game’.”
Snooker in the 80’s was one of the top sports in the UK and Ireland with more than 18.5 million people tuning in to view the famous final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor in 1985.
Since then, the snooker fan-base has slowly crumbled in the UK compared to the 80’s, with most youngsters choosing to play soccer, rugby and golf over snooker. Having said that, the game has grown exponentially in the far east, rapidly becoming a top sport in China.
When O’Sullivan was asked about the snooker now compared to the 1980’s, he said;
“The sport is not what it was in the 1980’s. Maybe in another 20-30 years it could do another U-turn and be a leading sport but at the moment it’s not really a leading sport.
“It kind of props up other sports. In the 80’s it was the sport to be in, now its football, tennis, golf, athletics, motor-racing, boxing, rugby, cricket.
“Snooker gets hardly any headlines now. People watch it because the love it but if you look at the viewing figures and sponsors, compared to other sports, you can see it’s not the sport that it once was.”
In more recent years Ronnie O’Sullivan has enjoyed playing snooker as he feels as though it’s about enjoying snooker rather than the pressure of winning matches all the time.
“I love playing and competing. I’m probably not as driven as I was but i still enjoy it.
“I like to win but i enjoy playing. I’ve enjoyed my snooker more sometimes when I haven’t won.
“What else would I be doing on a Thursday afternoon than playing in York against Mark Selby. That’s not a bad job.”
The Irish Legends Cup will take place on the 6th-8th January at Goffs, Co Kildare and will feature players Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White, Kyren Wilson and Mark Selby (Team England) and Mark Allen, Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien and Joe Swail (Team Ireland).