“I never really chose to play snooker; my dad did that for me, and I wish he hadn’t. When I was a kid, I just wanted to have a laugh, potting the odd ball, but I’d probably have been happier playing golf or football, or driving cars for a living – something outside, with an adrenalin buzz.”
Honesty; perhaps too honest for those who love the game of snooker or find their careers reliant on the sport. However, it’s refreshing for any sportsperson – in an era of our icons being set to cliché auto pilot mode – to be open and to give us outsiders a greater insight into them on a human level.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the renegade of snooker, but he’s also the renegade that the 21st century sporting world needs; he’s the man that can bring the ones sidelined by sports back into the fray and reignite their interest in a world of sport that is viewed as nothing more than a web of corruption, money and selfishness.
O’Sullivan’s demeanour of a man who is bored by the sport, a man who doesn’t perhaps offer the stage the respect it deserves, rubs people up the wrong way. And that is understandable. But for those out there, who aren’t looking to be offended, Ronnie is blockbuster entertainment.
Rude? Yep. Disrespectful? Yep. Arrogant? Of course.
But how many of you really would rather see, let’s say someone like Judd Trump, in the same press conference throwing out repetitive variations of: “It’s an honour to be here…my opponent played very well…I’m humbled by the whole experience?”
“Throughout my life, I’ve never been bothered by the records or titles. I always want to be the best I can, but I basically play snooker in the same way I did as a kid – just trying to pull off good shot.”
Thankfully, unlike so many of the sporting icons out there, placed on pedestals, drowning in their own importance, O’Sullivan hasn’t forgot – whether they like it or not – that it’s a sportsman or woman’s job to primarily entertain the fans.
Ronnie’s desire to pull off an audacious chip shot rather than win back-to-back titles is the very thing that keeps snooker remotely relevant in a fast paced world of viral videos.
There’s several sports out there that push the very definition of ‘what is a sport?’ and yet, despite feeling like an obvious target, snooker regularly avoids such discussions, and that’s purely down to having a guy that once head-butted the now-Tournament Director at World Snooker, Mike Ganley, and opted to play in his socks during the 2015 World Championship.
If Ronnie O’Sullivan isn’t for you, then you need a new hobby.