ABP Pro Players Not Attending the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship

ABP Pro Players Not Attending the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship
From ABP General Attorney Dennis Walsh

Chicago, Illinois- It is with regret that the general professional body of the Association of Billiard Professionals will not be attending the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship promoted by Mr.Barry Behrman. Nor will these ABP pros attend the Masters 10-Ball or any event promoted by Mr.Behrman because of monies owed to players and lack of secure funds of prize money before each of his events.

One of the goals of the Association of Billiards Professionals is to provide a platform where touring professionals can pursue the sport they love as a full time career and achieve reasonable financial success. To that end discussions have been ongoing since last year with representatives of the US Open and representatives of the ABP.

Repeated attempts by the ABP organization to obtain guarantees that the prize money will be in place have been refused and therefore it is with regret that the Association and its members have decided to neither support nor attend the 2011 US Open 9-Ball Championship. Notwithstanding the Association’s deep respect for Barry Behrman for his contribution to pool these many years, the players simply cannot commit their time and their expenses for an uncertain payday.

“As a former US Open 9-Ball champion, it’s painful to not be able to attend this year, as it is always great to play in it. However, the ABP and its goals are more important than my personal goals, and we need to start taking the necessary steps to pave the way for the future of the game and its up and coming stars.”- Rodney Morris, ABP Board of Directors

“It is with sadness that I must withdraw from one of my favourite tournaments ever. In doing so, I hope the sacrifices we are making raises the standard of the elements that our beautiful sport lacks. The ABP’s goals are to the benefit of the sport and to restore the confidence of cooperation between players, associations and promoters alike. I stand behind this vision fully. ” – Mika Immonen, ABP Board of Directors and Two time US Open 9-Ball Champion.

“The US Open is the greatest and most prestigious event on American soil. I am truly sorry we cannot attend this event. But we have an obligation to protect all players now and in the future. I am hopeful in the future all things will be worked out so all players can participate in all great and safe tournaments.” – Johnny Archer, President of the ABP.

Regardless if this is a BCA or WPA Sanctioned event, the following ABP Professional Players will not attend:

Johnny Archer USA
Mika Immonen FIN
Efren Reyes PHI
Francisco Bustamante PHI
Darren Appleton ENG
Shane Van Boening USA
Rodney Morris USA
Alex Pagulayan PHI
Dennis Orcullo PHI
Thorsten Hohmann GER
Lee Van Corteza PHI
John Schmidt USA
Corey Deuel USA
Huidji See NED
Mike Sigel USA
Nick Varner USA
Buddy Hall USA
CJ Wiley USA
Tony Drago MLT
Raj Hundal ENG
Karl Boyes ENG
Imran Majid ENG
Marcus Chamat SWE
Roberto Gomez PHI
Carlo Biado PHI
Warren Kiamco PHI
Antonio Lining PHI
Jundel Mazon PHI
Shawn Putnam USA
Mike Davis USA
Stevie Moore USA
Oscar Dominguez USA
Charlie Williams USA
Dennis Hatch USA
Jeremy Jones USA
Allen Hopkins USA
Scott Frost USA
Ernesto Dominguez MEX
Kim Davenport USA
Rob Saez USA
Tony Crosby ENG
Art Wiggins USA
Tommy Najar USA

This list will be updated as more pro members join and may choose to not participate.

Statement From Barry Behrman and Shannon Berhman Paschall – Exclusive to AZB
My daughter Shannon and I want to begin by saying thank you to all of the U.S. Open supporters.  Thank you for all of your emails, texts, and calls in reference to the recent press release from the ABP in reference to boycotting the longest running and most prestigious tournament in the world, The U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships. Thank you to the blindsided pool players that notified us immediately after the press release, stating that they had no knowledge that their names were published on a list supporting this boycott, as this was not their intention. 

In an economy like we have today, with the highest unemployment rate with over 14 million people without income, business after business going belly up, not to mention a record number of home foreclosures and the homeless; an economy so bad that economist are bordering fortunetelling and mere speculation verse precise calculations as to when our country should normalize, we still pay all of my players. There is not 1 single person that didn’t get paid in 2010, or in the history of the U.S. Open.   When I wrestled in high school, there was a sign hanging on the wall with 9 words that I live by and will continue to live by, “A Winner Never Quits and a Quitter Never Wins” This is the cloth that I am cut from, I do not give up, and I will not allow others to bash me in the media as I am simply doing my very best.  Have I considered quitting? Yes.  In the early years I briefly thought about giving up the U.S. Open, as I lost a tremendous amount of money. I then thought of the fans, players and future players, and knew that the show must go on.   In my career, I have seen all men’s player organizations come and go, but the U.S. Open is still standing.

All of my life I have lived and breathed for the game of pool, I began with only 16 players in 1976 and have loved watching it grow from 16 to 256 players, Do you think that this event would still be around if the players were not actually getting paid?  We all know that this cannot be the case. This will be the 36th year that the U.S. Open is hosted by me, along with my daughter for the past 10 years. I have loved every minute and can recall each match, like it was yesterday, because pool is my passion.

Almost every business has been hit by the turn in the economy and I am not immune to this flux.  It costs me $15,000 just to rent the stadium seating, which is barely covered by the VIP seat sales; this is just one piece of the puzzle that is used to put on such a great tournament. I am not perfect and do not claim to be. I have made many mistakes in my career and life, but I am always trying to better myself and this sport that we supposedly all love. For 35 years now, I have built the U.S. Open with my own blood, sweat and tears, and have made sure that every single player has always received their winnings; some may have been delayed a few months, but paid none the less.

Shannon and I do not see how boycotting an event that is merely here for the players and fans of pool, as it is not a cash cow for us, is benefiting this sport or the fans who want to watch the players.  I am not a wealthy man; in fact I too like some of the players am trying to simply make ends.  However, I am doing everything in my power to strengthen the industry of pool. I cannot allow the U.S. Open to be threatened by individuals whom will not return a call or email.  In fact, I personally called Johnny Archer 15-20 times in the past couple of weeks, and sent many emails to discuss this year’s event, and not once did he answer or return any of my attempts.  What kind of leader is this?  I was never given the chance to acknowledge their demands, which I along with my daughter believe is completely unfair and simply “dirty pool.”  This is not a step in the right direction, Mr. Archer as the President, should be attempting to work with promoters instead of shutting them out, or else pool as we know it will no longer exist.  I have been informed that some members of the ABP were demanding to be seeded into other events, and many made threats to walk if they were not.  Promoters cannot give into bullies.

This sport is larger than just the all mighty dollar.  It is a rare time for all players, both professional and amateurs, from all around the world come to test their skills against one another and become victorious, it is a great week in which fans are able to witness the skills of our industry today. Yes, it is income and a job for some, but let us not forget about the fans from around the globe that rearrange their precious lives to witness the U.S. Open.  I think that many players have lost sight for their passion of this sport to have it replaced with monetary gain instead. My daughter and I by no means enjoy having to pay anyone late, and do everything in our power, even in detriment to our personal lives and business to make sure that everyone is always paid. In fact for the 2010 U.S. Open, 92 spots were paid in full, in cash, at the event.

I hope to see all of the fans and players again at the 36th Annual U.S. Open and my daughter and I will work relentlessly as usual to insure the players and fans receive our very best.  We are working on television contracts and hope to have the U.S. Open broadcasted in Asia, Canada, Europe and the U.S.A., in order for the players to receive the financial recognition that they deserve.  If anyone would like to contact us, please email usopen9ball@yahoo.com as we will respond.

By Barry Behrman – 2011-07-07