By Roger Long
Advanced Certified Instructor
Why is it that whenever we lose, we always have to put the blame on someone, or something, other than ourselves? Come on, you know that’s true. Pool players are the biggest excuse makers in the world. We think our losses are never our own fault!
In my neck of the woods (that’s redneck talk for, “where I live”) we have a rating system for tournament players that is about as well structured as baby poop. I say that because all of the ratings here are arbitrarily assigned without any stats ever being compiled. In other words, it is purely an opinion-based method. This situation naturally draws criticism from many players who believe that the people who assign the ratings are prone to favoring some players while penalizing others. This is a common occurrence where no accountability exists.
But what about the large national organizations who assign ratings based on stats and scores? Do they experience internal conflict because of their ratings? Let me answer that for you. Yes, they do. There are charges and counter charges of sandbagging and discrimination taking place all the time. Why is that?
Let’s see if we can put this on a more instructional level by taking a closer look at the problem. Many players are of the opinion that they are qualified to rate themselves and other players because they have been playing for “X” number of years. But you have to suspect flaws in their judgment when you hear them say things like, “That player should be rated B instead of C because there is no C on earth that can make the shot he just made.” Or things like, “Your B-player just beat my A-player, so I think it’s time to raise your player’s rating.” Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the kind of “logic” that’s used all the time whenever certain people discuss ratings.
Now let’s look at this problem in a little different light. There are always going to be days when D players play like C’s, and C’s play like B’s, and B’s play like A’s. Conversely, there will always be days when those same B’s will play like C’s, and the C’s will play like D’s, and the D’s will play like F’s. So what any good organization does is track each player’s stats until they arrive at a solid average. Once that average is established, it’s probably going to take more than one or two good nights − or someone’s unqualified opinion − to boost that level any higher.
As a youngster I used to watch boxing on TV with my dad, and he would tell me, “Son, there are sluggers and then there are boxers. Just because a fighter can hit hard, doesn’t mean he is a good boxer.” I’ve always remembered that and found that the same holds true in pool. There are shot makers, and then there are pool players. Just because a person can make tough shots, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a good pool player.
There are many factors involved in properly assessing players’ skill levels, and most league owners are very diligent to employ them all. If there are any conspiracies to “get” certain players, those conspiracies most likely exist only in those players’ heads.