For better, or for worse, this vibrant figurehead of the sport has graced our television screens for the last 28 years. Achieving multiple triple-crown trophies, but also achieving a few unfortunate headlines, the 44 year old Ronnie has never been afraid to speak his mind.
This was the case when around a week ago, prior to his quarter-final bout against Mark Williams, Ronnie decided to pick a bone with every snooker player outside the top 50.
When questioned “Would you have believed, all those years ago, that you and Mark Williams would still be competing at such a high level?”, Ronnie had this to say…
“If you asked me [all those years ago] I would say no, but when you look at the standard of play you’d say yeah, because people like me and John [Higgins] and Mark… when you look at the younger players they’re not that good. Most of them would probably do well as half-decent amateurs, not even amateurs. They’re so bad”.
“A lot of them now, you just think… I’ve probably gotta lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50”.
“That’s why we’re still hovering around, because of how poor it is down that end”.
There are to main responses which have developed towards Ronnie’s outburst. Some decide to take on the popular notion “Ronnie will be Ronnie”, dust off the comments and continue as normal.
However, a large portion of the public felt discouraged by the message, pointing out his somewhat arrogant demeanour and reflecting on how snooker’s youthful generation will feel.
While I’m personally a huge fan of Ronnie O’Sullivan, especially when he’s playing snooker, I can somewhat be sidetracked by his actions off the table. He’s no doubt the greatest, most naturally gifted player the sport has ever seen, but this doesn’t justify his often egotistical statements.
To suggest that “they’re so bad” not only reflects poorly on the sport, suggesting it really has no future, but may neglect up-and-coming players, which I think Ronnie often forgets he was once.
However, whether this arrogance is intentional or just a result of his many, many years at the top flight, we’ll never really know. That doesn't, however, make it right.