Thursday, 9 October 2014

What The World Cup Means to Me and What Pool Can Take From It

By: Markus Noé

This past Sunday at 3 pm the world came to a crashing halt for me as the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup Final was set to begin. This game was of particular interest to me for many reasons. My story begins in 1966  as my then 18 year old father, with his entire family, immigrated to Canada from Germany. In the mid 20th century Canada really was the "new world."

Even in the 60's Germany was nowhere near where it is today as a world leader in environment, health, economic and human rights issues. The rebuild in Germany after WWII was painfully slow and at the time there were whole city blocks of bombed out buildings yet to be demolished and cleaned up. In 1953 my father, only 6 years old, was playing in one of these building with a large group of friends when it collapsed. Fortunately for the rest, he was the only one hurt as a support beam came crashing in on him, taking his leg off at the hip. 

With a past such as this, it very clear to me why my family sought out a fresh start here in the very neutral and beautiful nation of Canada. It took a few years but the entire family ended up thriving; doing very well personally and financially. However, even with all these positive things that happened here for them, their German roots held strong. They were passed down to me the same way they where passed down to the entire Noé clan, through soccer. All of us played at a high level, and whenever a Euro Cup or a World Cup would commence we collectively bleed black, red and yellow.  

Some of my earliest and fondest memories are gathering with my family to sweat these games out. Living and dying with each missed or successful opportunity. The most passionate and the loudest fan was always my Opa (Grandfather), Eugene Noé. He was a WWII veteran and always very sensitive of the image he thought he had being a German who fought in this war. With his broken English he would tell anyone who would listen that he was just a regular soldier and  not a part of Hitler's genocidal subculture.

It is this sensitivity that would cause him to yell out "deutsch-hasser" (German hater) on every questionable call that would occur in the game. This would be to the comic relief of my cousins and I who would often poke a loving jab at Opa, getting an immediate rise out of him. When I gathered with my German relatives to watch these games it not only instilled the importance of the success of the national team, but more importantly instilled a sense of family and togetherness that has stayed with me to this day. With my father having me late in life, my cousins and most of my family are considerably older then me. However soccer and the German national team bridged this gap for us and gave us all something of common interest to bond on. 

 I am going to be 28 next month a lot of these memories have come nearly two decades ago. Our collective passion has made these memories remain prevalent. Like any family we have our dysfunctions, however despite distance or disagreement the unity lives on knowing we are all glued to a the T.V at kick-off time whenever Germany plays. With Germany winning their fourth World Cup and first as a unified nation, the emotions that ran through me Sunday got me thinking about pool. 

For the most part all cue-sports take place in an individual format, which is fine and should not  be disregarded. However there are very few things for cue-sport fans to cheer about for national pride. There is the World Scotch Doubles and World Team Champions which are successful but take place mostly overseas and Canada and many other nations are not always able to participate. I always thought extending on the Mosconi Cup would be the best idea. 

They are already very successful and are doing something that Soccer has done for generations, which is transcend the game itself. Like Soccer, the Mosconi Cup has fans who only watch their sport during major international events where players from their country or continent are in the mix for a major title. It is this type of nationalist pride that helps transcend all sports and is grossly lacking in cue-sports. Pool has been out of the mainstream for so long I believe it needs a World Cup type of event in order to rebound. In our current state, the game will not thrive unless it transcends itself like other major sports have and gain the awareness of others besides the die hard billiard junkies like myself. Look what is has done for sports like soccer and hockey. 

At present time countries like Canada, Taiwan, Philippines, China and many more could easily be added to a new Mosconi Cup format. In the future I hope something like this becomes a possibility, especially for the Asian countries where pool is widely considered a national sport. By pool or any cue-sport having more international team events it should encourage the governments of countries such as Canada and the U.S to properly finance our game. 

The positive side of more international team events and government funding, as it would leave shady promoters and other benefactors who keep most of the money for themselves and never do anything to grow the game right out of the picture. Which then will then create the environment for our sport to gain legitimacy and give countries who don't play other  major "world sports" a chance to experience the same nurturing feelings that the German national team has given me. 

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