I’ve been watching the world snooker championship over the last couple of weeks. There has been a lot of talk about the changes that have been made to professional snooker over the last two years. This has been a bit of an ongoing set of changes with the breakthrough of some international players into the top 16 of the game. The recent changes have been more structural and the sport is now very suddenly being globalised. A good deal of this growth is in China, which now hosts five major snooker tournaments. It was also mentioned several times in the commentary that this emerging snooker market was also home to 5 of the players who qualified for the world snooker championship (which was a new record). Here’s an article on the BBC site about this recent globalisation of the sport. So there is an interesting case study here about globalisation in action, and the types of responses it gets. Snooker is not a sport that tends to be incorporated into accounts of globalisation, but here is an opportunity to watch it happening in real-time.
Last year a spent a session at the UK snooker championship. The support for the Chinese player Ding Junhui was very noticeable. Afterwards when buying my Ding Junhui T-shirt, I was asked if I wanted it signing by the player. When I looked there was a huge queue leading up to the players table. I’ve been to the snooker a few times and I’ve never seen this kind of activity before. So clearly the snooker crowd is also becoming more global in its support. Indeed, Ding Junhui is often name checked as the trailblazer who has made the breakthrough into the world game.