I love snooker, but BBC Sports Personality snub shows we must change attitudes to our great sport

EXCLUSIVE: Snooker is a great sport, but Sports Personality snub shows we must change attitudes

30/11/2016 at 10:17Updated 30/11/2016 at 10:58

Ronnie O'Sullivan tells Desmond Kane why snooker is one of the world's great sports as he sets the record straight on claims he was trying to criticise the game he loves during the UK Championship in York.

The five-times world champion says he simply cannot understand why snooker has been snubbed by the BBC Sports Personality awards for over a quarter of a century, and ignored by some newspapers in its lack of coverage for such a popular sport.


I was asked why I thought snooker players and myself in particular were never on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

My answer to the question was honest and simple: I don't think snooker is an important enough sport compared to other sports such as tennis, F1, golf, football, cricket, horse racing, boxing and Olympic sports. The list goes on and on.

"If you look at all the nominees over the past 10-15 years, you will see that it is people from the sports listed above that have been shortlisted. Snooker has not featured in the top three since Stephen Hendry was nominated behind Paul Gascoigne in 1990. Which tells its own story. "

'Prize money adds prestige'

My next point was that I believe if snooker can get to the point where winners collect £1million cheques like they do in golf, tennis and F1, then I believe that would help to change the perception of the sport as the game looks to attract more interest across the globe.

"Bigger prize money would contribute to bringing the sport back to the level of prestige and importance it obviously should enjoy and reached in the 1980s when at the height of Steve Davis' fame, it was said he spent more time on TV than the PM Maggie Thatcher. "

We had Mark King and Anthony Hamilton telling us how skint they were only four weeks ago. These are two leading players who have been in the top 20 consistently over the past 15-20 years.

I'm not sure this is the perception that any sport wants.

"This was my next point, and I always think it's important to understand why things are as they are and where you sit within that situation: football rights are worth over £5bn-8bn for three years. Maybe more. BBC pays £6-8 million for the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters for the same period."

Video - 'Olympics no excuse for not having snooker player on Sports Personality of the Year shortlist'


I'm no maths genius, but it's not hard to work out why snooker is where it is in the pecking order.

'Traditional media don't cover the sport properly'

I believe sometimes snooker is fighting for column inches in newspapers which is a problem that has been around for years when it is up against football.

Video - 'So easy!' - O'Sullivan switches hands during stunning break


All I was doing was answering a question honestly put to me on why I think snooker is not competing with other sports in the annual Sports Personality of the Year.

"I think the World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has done a great job so far with snooker. There's more snooker than ever. More playing opportunities than ever. Full credit to Barry for what he has achieved. "

Happy days for everyone involved in snooker.

'Snooker was built for TV like tennis'

As far as saying snooker is cheap TV, it is.

"Snooker was a sport made for television back in the 1970s because it is easy and cheap to cover. Otherwise, it would never be on TV. "

Most sport is considered cheap television in comparison to what TV pays for other entertainment when you look at drama and movies.

I stand by what I say as factual.

Video - 'So easy!' - O'Sullivan switches hands during stunning break


This is something I've learned myself only recently since working on TV projects.

It's great that we never stop learning.

Ronnie O'Sullivan