Can the Premiership Learn from the Snooker World Championship?

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIMay 9, 2012

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Allister Carter of England in action against Ronnie O'Sullivan of England during the final of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre on May 6, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Ronnie O'Sullivan was an oasis of calm in comparison to his former self as he breezed to a fourth World Championship crown at the Crucible. The genius of Snooker triumphed 18-11 over Ali Carter in what was a final of talent overcoming personal battles.

O'Sullivan spent a large part of the past 12 months with a sports psychologist to subvert the demons that have stopped him from becoming a bigger legend than he already is. The outcome allowed spectators to witness the player that many follow the sport of Snooker to see have his mojo visibly back. 

His opponent Ali Carter also inspired many by edging into the final just months after Crohn's disease threatened his career. His mentor and former Champion Peter Ebdon helped him along the way, leaving a valiant runner up with a more definite future in the sport.

There was no denying it was a battle both players wanted to win at all costs. O'Sullivan wanted to end a life changing year with a return to former glories, and Carter sought to gain a first ever victory over the rocket after numerous failed attempts. 

Both players showed a great amount of respect for each other and this echoed the majority of the rounds that preceded the final. Occasionally, war of words were had over the two and a half weeks of the tournament. 

Ali Carter reacted to youngster Judd Trump's etiquette and sportsmanship during their quarter final match. Similarly, Mark Allen made comments about Cao Yupeng's dishonesty during their first round tie.

These disputes centered around the expectation of players to declare their own foul shots and apologize for any flukes that ended with play falling luckily into their hands. 

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Ronnie O'Sullivan of England poses with his son Ronnie after beating Allister Carter of England in the final of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre on May 7, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo
Warren Little/Getty Images

For the most part, however, players throughout this year's tournament, including a usually volatile O'Sullivan, ensured that they remained professional and respectful of their opponents by showing sportsman-like behaviour.

And that is where comparisons were easily made to football, a sport where a player owning up to a foul or fluke is about as common as Stuart Downing scoring a goal for Liverpool. 

BBC commentators voiced their comparisons at the Crucible. Stereotypes are based sometimes on history, and Snooker players along with their waistcoats and neat appearance often go hand in hand with aspects like honest behaviour. 

Footballers, on the other hand, are physical and tactical athletes for whom dirty antics are as much a part of the game as the starting formation. 

With the growing controversy surrounding players such as Ashley Young, Luis Suarez and Chelsea's FA Cup goal fiasco, it was easy for fans of Snooker to look down on a sport that seems to accept what many would refer to as cheating. 

And maybe this is the angle those looking to improve the honesty in football need to take; compare football to a sport where sporting behaviour increases the admiration the fans have for the players. 

It is unrealistic to probably ever expect blatant diving to stop in football. Similarly, if a goal is given when the ball is miles away from the goal line, you do not expect the celebrating team to even care about owning up to the lie. But a start could be made on regulating and punishing those who bring the sport into disrepute in this manner. 

If you add in the lack of goal line technology or video referees in football that have been brought in to sports like tennis and rugby, it may seem that football wants to stay in the 20th century. 

Maybe it is the more traditional events like Wimbledon or the Crucible World Championship that can bring in such elements successfully because the sport it involves has already laid the foundations to support it. 

Either way, whilst the sport of Snooker will never reach its previous dizzy heights of the 80's, at least this year's tournament in Sheffield can represent a glowing collection of players who care about winning in tone as well as style. 

Ronnie O'Sullivan and company have set an example, even to the minority in the sport who neglected it, that will move into the new season and into the future.