What sport/game does a joe vs pro stand the best chance?

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  • pinno
    pinno Posts: 51,320
    edited October 2017
    joe2008 wrote:
    Maybe something like snooker or darts?

    You've obviously never played snooker.

    I'd say that was one of the hardest sports for Joe to stand any chance, even professionals outside the top 16/32 don't stand much of a chance against the best.

    Bear with me as I have to paint the picture.

    I played snooker at a decent level for a few years. The big thing that killed the amateur side of the game was Barry Hearne (ostensibly). They brought out the professional ticket system and the amateur leagues were ruined where, once, a player could earn £10k plus in priza money per annum, the sponsorship drained out of it.
    Now, that is not 'professional' per say as they weren't salaried or sponsored. I played in a tournament in Croydon sponsored by Mercantile Credit. Entrance was £15 which included free breakfast, lunch and free soft drinks. Prize money for winning was £2500. There was £7500 prize money in total for example. The entrance criteria was playing for a team in the 1st division of snooker leagues in any of the home counties including Sussex and a couple of other counties.
    In the UK, you could only turn Pro if you won the English, Welsh and Irish Open amateur competitions or ranked highly in all the opens (Scottish and Northern Irish included). It was discriminatory and did not give many people the opportunity to turn pro but the national amateur scene was very healthy, despite the shortfalls. It was replaced with a system where you could buy your professional license.
    The result was that there were suddenly a whole load of wannabe's on the scene. Wannabe's (unlike me) who had rich parents, had a child with a bit of talent and was maybe coached and some of them even had sponsors.
    All it took was for 1 wannabe to have a good day and the guy who had the off day, who would have been at it 6 hours a day, working a part or full time job would get knocked out of a qualifying tournament in a ranking event.

    Things have evolved since then but i'll give you 2 examples of how the system failed a lot of top quality players. I will also demonstrate that a top amateur could and do beat professionals regularly. The grey area is what constitutes a professional and an amateur. One is salaried and sponsored, the other relies on prize money but both have to pay into the professional system, pay entrance fees and fight it out with legions of other players in a lottery of sorts.

    1, Nick. Nick played in the clubs in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. He's a guy who I played with regularly. He could knock in breaks of 50-80 with ease. Nick wasn't organised enough to do the research, do the travel and due to having to work full time to fund his sport had little other time to go find competitions, (let alone travel to minor world ranking tournaments in Belgium, France, Holland - something those outside the top 32 have to do to gain enough ranking points).
    Nick on a good day would give any pro outside of the top 32 a run for his money. Given a coach or even a structure like the old amateur system, would have thrived. Many did survive in the old amateur system: Martin Holmes who played for the Malthouse in Eastbourne was earning £10 to £12k a year as an amateur through prize money alone. Honing his skills in a strong league and on the back of support from the Snooker club, he entered competitions.

    2. Alec Higgins (unfortunate name) from Sheffield. Alec and I met by chance on a train to Bristol. Alec recalled his experience that year (sometime in the late 90's) where he paid £200 to enter the World Championship qualification rounds in Blackpool. He paid £50 a night for a B&B for so long as he was still in the tournament. He also paid £4.00 per hour to practice in some dingy, back street snooker hall whilst he was there. Although he entered 'professional' tournaments was anything but; he paid entrance and travel expenses out of his own pocket. Sometimes, his snooker hall would have a whip around to help him on his way**.
    His battered old MG Midget broke down on the way and was towed back to Sheffield and he travelled on to Blackpool by public transport. An expensive week. He gets through 2 rounds and get's knocked out 5-4 in the 3rd and penultimate round by a 19 year old kid who turned up with his Dad, his coach and a mini entourage. The 19 year old is fully professional, has a sponsor and gets knocked out in round 4 anyway.
    Alec, due to his ability, got free practice hours at his local snooker hall in Sheffield but the top pro's and rich wannabe's* play on the old Billiard table dimensions. These tables are much tighter than your regulation tables.
    Alec, who had been practising at the snooker hall after work and at weekends till the lights went out at the snooker hall since he turned 18, (had done a maximum break at one time), get's knocked out because of a system that is awash with good, bad and indifferent snooker players, professional. amateur or otherwise.
    I had the pleasure of meeting up with Alec at the Willie Thorne snooker club*** in Leicester in 2000 after keeping in touch and 5 years in between. Thankfully, then turned to coaching and earning money doing what he loved but probably the best, most level headed and talented player I have ever met and yet never turned professional despite his ability and because of a poor, badly structured system. He was a minor celebrity in the lower ranks - I couldn't believe how many people had heard of him.

    Neither Nick nor Alec are unique. They played against professionals and beat them regularly. The problem being the system. Sheffield has a snooker academy now but it only allows for 8 players a year to do a 2 year 'apprenticeship'. 8 Players??! FFS, there are bus loads of potentially good players. These 8 places are open to players from abroad. If they don't get a place at the academy, they had better hope to have money or a lucky break.
    Outside of the top 64, the game is inundated with pro's, semi-pro's and 'amateurs'. Such is the narrow pyramid and the automatic qualification of the top 16 in the world and the top 32 for the WC's which means that beyond rank 32, theoretically, No.:33 in the world could play against number 110 and it is most likely that the guy ranked 110 receives no fixed salary. The gap in talent between 33 and 110 is very, very marginal. What the difference is, is the ability to pay your way around the ranking tournaments. entrance fees and get at least 6 to 8 hours a day practice, preferably on a regulation Billiard table, not a regulation snooker table****.

    *Stephen Lee had the perfect start and well off parents. What an irony to be done for match fixing, Same as Stephen Hendry - parents who could afford coaching from a very early age and had access to their own tables.
    **Eugene Hughes and Joe Swale are two other players of note who played with their 'arses hanging out of their trousers' they were so poor before gaining professional status but turned pro they did (luckily).
    ***Now folded I believe, as Willie Thorne went bankrupt.
    ****Stephen Hendry had a custom built table for him that was 'tight'.
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  • ballysmate
    ballysmate Posts: 15,921
    Pinno!!
    Didn't realise how multi talented you are or were. Snooker, wiff waff and what else?
  • pinno
    pinno Posts: 51,320
    Ballysmate wrote:
    Pinno!!
    Didn't realise how multi talented you are or were. Snooker, wiff waff and what else?

    Me first class plonker me. At one time, I spent roughly £80-£100 per week practising on a snooker table. Probably only 2/3rds of what I really needed.
    If I went into any detail, people would just say that it was some sort of sob story and I am bitter which wouldn't give my argument any weight.

    One day, I will have my own snooker table. I'll be far too old to do any good but i'll have fun pushing myself to the absolute limit without worrying about the bill on a daily basis.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • ballysmate
    ballysmate Posts: 15,921
    You were beguiled by the tales of Thorburn and Stevens coke habit and you thought you would have a chance of sloppy seconds with Tony Knowles' cast offs.
  • pinno
    pinno Posts: 51,320
    Ballysmate wrote:
    You were beguiled by the tales of Thorburn and Stevens coke habit and you thought you would have a chance of sloppy seconds with Tony Knowles' cast offs.

    Slightly before my time but I did watch Thorburn's live 147. In the snooker hall in Eastbourne some 6 years later, We coined the phrase 'Cilffy Style' after his shot to get from black to yellow during that break, if you played a good shot.

    But watch this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkM0Z5t3vAU
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • ballysmate
    ballysmate Posts: 15,921
    Yeah, not bad. (Understatement)
  • pinno
    pinno Posts: 51,320
    joe2008 wrote:
    Pool.

    You can keep your pro opponent off the table while you pot 8 balls, and the small table makes that much easier than snooker.

    There aren't any professional pool players in the UK, unless they play the American 9 ball game but theoretically true.
    Dave Turley was as close to being professional in the UK as anyone in the last 15 years (I got beaten by him in the final of the Wigtownshire singles in 2004 - 8 ball pool). He went 2 seasons unbeaten here in Scotland, same league. He had played for the English Pool Association. Turned to American 9 ball because of the lack of money in Pool nowadays. It has died a death. He still works full time though.
    Sparred' with him on the 9 ball tables when he made the transition. I was 9-3 up on him once and he beat me 10-9. Due to the rules as the winner breaks off. :roll:
    Couldn't touch me on a snooker table but you would have to drink lots of coffee and take pro plus caffeine tablets to help you stay awake - I never knew anyone as slow on a snooker table.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • robert88
    robert88 Posts: 2,696
    Fishing.
  • lostboysaint
    lostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    None.

    The difference between elite level sport and the level at which Joe Public competes is light years. I've read some interesting stories on here claiming otherwise - "I could have been a contender..." - but the truth is that you couldn't and the pros are pros for a reason, they are simply significantly, CONSISTENTLY better. I've got a few Team GBR shirts in sailing for a variety of events and can tell you that the difference between a very, very top drawer amateur (solo or crew) is absolutely light years from the pros.

    Also being in possession of a UEFA B coaching licence and being heavily involved in football I can tell you that the difference between an amateur or a pro is, again, enormous. The apocryphal tales of undiscovered talent on Sunday league pitches or outside of club academies are simply that - nonsense. A League Two footballer will be ridiculously more talented than any amateur. In fact my favourite shout at any game is "you're shit" because I'm always keen to find out why the broadcaster of such insight is paying to sit (or stand) and watch rather than performing at that level. The PERCEPTION may be that the player doesn't fit into that team or that league/level of competition but the reality is that they are operating at a completely different level to you or me.* Football is always one that is quoted and that's because being so well supported everyone thinks they know better or, having participated, think they are better.

    *I was fortunate enough to play at my team's home stadium in a charity game at the end of last season. We had a guest player, a former pro from the club. This former pro, whilst an icon and cult figure at the club, wouldn't even figure in the top 100 of the best footballers that we've seen grace the pitch and yet he completely ran a game that had plenty of high-quality amateurs in it. He had more space, more time, better control, technique and skill and this despite being 48 so older than everyone except me!
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  • snakes and ladders
  • coin toss
  • crispybug2 wrote:
    Cricket.

    I think that is one of the answers if you were looking for a sport where they stood the least chance against a pro.



    I played for Northamptonshire u-14's and u-15's at cricket, so in general terms I was a decent cricketer

    We did nets with a couple of first team and international players, Safraz Nawaz a Pakistani fast bowler and Bushen Bedi an Indian spinner

    I faced about ten or fifteen deliveries from Safraz before I even laid bat on ball, he was so fast that for the first delivery all that I heard was the nets bulge behind me and I didn't even see the ball!!
    And as for Bedi, he twisted me and the other juniors inside out with his deliveries

    So, no!! Cricket isn't a sport where amateurs stand a chance against pro's.

    That's exactly why it is a sport the amateurs stand a chance. Watch any test match and half the tail end batsmen can't get bat on ball either, and they're the pick of the pros? How is that any different? Maybe if you'd faced a few balls from the opening batsmen from the international team instead you might have had better results.

    Rest of the time is just standing around in a field, and any amateur can do that.

    Except that the 'occasional' bowlers would still blow you away and the tailenders would be better than the batsmen at amateur level (Steven Finn used to open the batting for his club I think).

    I've watched county / test players in the nets (never good enough to face myself) and the impressive thing to me is that the bowlers (at 75%) will send down, say, 100 balls any of which would get any hacker out but each one will be met perfectly by the batsman - they are just at a different level (which TV gives no idea of).
  • Drag racing. If you've got enough money for the car, just put your foot down and off you go.
  • Any niche expensive sport that requires a very short period input from the sportsman.
    My list would be:
    Drag racing,
    Ski-jump,
    Skeleton or luge.
    Pretty much any Joe with deep pockets, and time on their hands for a spot of practice, could buy their way into these sports quite quickly.
  • timothyw
    timothyw Posts: 2,482
    Drag racing requires a large amount of skill and practice for proper gear shifting.

    Ski jump is harder than it looks - you only need to see how shit Eddie the eagle was

    Skeleton requires top level sprinting ability to get started, otherwise you'd be seconds back before you even lie down. Luge is a better bet, but either way an amateur is much more likely to get severely injured than win.

    I think horse racing is probably the best way a keen amateur could buy their way to success, although that requires you to be tiny and be utterly fearless (bit like ski jumping...)
  • lostboysaint
    lostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    crispybug2 wrote:
    Cricket.

    I think that is one of the answers if you were looking for a sport where they stood the least chance against a pro.



    I played for Northamptonshire u-14's and u-15's at cricket, so in general terms I was a decent cricketer

    We did nets with a couple of first team and international players, Safraz Nawaz a Pakistani fast bowler and Bushen Bedi an Indian spinner

    I faced about ten or fifteen deliveries from Safraz before I even laid bat on ball, he was so fast that for the first delivery all that I heard was the nets bulge behind me and I didn't even see the ball!!
    And as for Bedi, he twisted me and the other juniors inside out with his deliveries

    So, no!! Cricket isn't a sport where amateurs stand a chance against pro's.

    That's exactly why it is a sport the amateurs stand a chance. Watch any test match and half the tail end batsmen can't get bat on ball either, and they're the pick of the pros? How is that any different? Maybe if you'd faced a few balls from the opening batsmen from the international team instead you might have had better results.

    Rest of the time is just standing around in a field, and any amateur can do that.

    Except that the 'occasional' bowlers would still blow you away and the tailenders would be better than the batsmen at amateur level (Steven Finn used to open the batting for his club I think).

    I've watched county / test players in the nets (never good enough to face myself) and the impressive thing to me is that the bowlers (at 75%) will send down, say, 100 balls any of which would get any hacker out but each one will be met perfectly by the batsman - they are just at a different level (which TV gives no idea of).

    My main sports have always been boardsports - skateboarding, surfing and windsurfing and I've attended world class events at all three. I'm a poor amateur at two of those - although still capable enough - but a very good windsurfer. The elite guys are just a completely different league. I was in El Medano in Tenerife watching the PWA Tour guys warming up one evening ahead of the event starting the next day and watched one of the best (has been WC in two disciplines, Wave and Freestyle) sail as I was eating my dinner in the hotel upwind of the beach that they sail (Cabezo). He spent 90 minutes sailing and was absolutely ripping it up, with double forward loops, a push-forward (google it), a load of back and push loops as well as incredible wave riding. When he came ashore my missus, who knows very little about the sport, said "he didn't fall off did he". And he hadn't. There's only a handful of people in the world doing double forwards and push loops and he'd sailed around for fun for an hour and a half just getting in tune with the break, throwing in stuff that us mortals could only dream of and he came in having not fallen. Ridiculous.

    Possibly only matched by watching Tom Penny's ridiculously smooth frontside k/flips over the hip at Radlands or Bob Burnquist's mastery of switch stance vert riding at the same venue.
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  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,585
    If we take the prevalence of upsets in a sport to suggest that inferior skill matters less, than, by this measure, football is up there: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn ... est-sport/
  • mamil314
    mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    How about shooting sports?

    Wouldn't experienced hunters, ex military or anyone with enough practice be as good?
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,585
    mamil314 wrote:
    How about shooting sports?

    Wouldn't experienced hunters, ex military or anyone with enough practice be as good?

    Yebbit that's not strictly a 'joe vs pro' match up.
  • joe2008
    joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    Pinno wrote:

    There aren't any professional pool players in the UK, unless they play the American 9 ball game but theoretically true.
    Dave Turley was as close to being professional in the UK as anyone in the last 15 years (I got beaten by him in the final of the Wigtownshire singles in 2004 - 8 ball pool).

    Really?

    http://ipapool.com/rankings/professional/
  • lostboysaint
    lostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    If we take the prevalence of upsets in a sport to suggest that inferior skill matters less, than, by this measure, football is up there: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn ... est-sport/

    Erm, that article only looked at the results in the top flight of each sport. So in other words - would you expect the Athletics to beat the Yankees or Huddersfield to be Man Utd ;)

    It's not relevant at all. It's elite vs elite where the margins are even smaller.
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  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,479
    What defines a pro? For example, are the majority of track cyclists professional? Team GB riders get lottery grants to allow them to train full-time but I'm not sure they are professionals. There are grey areas in very many sports in the current era, mainly since the changes to the Olympics that allowed professional athletes to compete. It's easy to professionals in sports where there are teams that pay someone a salary to compete for them but once into more individual sports it becomes less tangible where the sportsperson becomes a pro. Is it when they do it full-time, when they get sponsored, when they win prize money?
  • okgo
    okgo Posts: 4,368
    This has always produced some humorous stories or interesting tales from people. Or some nice arguing about different sports.

    Which sports and athletic games do you suppose an amateur "joe" could best keep close to a mediocre or low level "pro"?
    Which would the joe always get destroyed?

    I'm not talking a couch potato who wears a futbol jersey on Saturday to watch the game. I'm talking a solid amateur keeping up with a low level pro.

    I'll start:

    Golf: This will be my guess as to an amateur's best shot at keeping up with a pro. Some local amateurs on a good day can shoot a few under par from the pro tees. And any low-level tour pro can have a bad day or bad weekend and miss the cut. I say this with some background. I grew up playing a lot and competed until after high school travelling around. Our high school's competition included the school that Webb Simpson went to, Broughton High in Raleigh. We played them once in a match at the local Carolina Country Club. I was our team's captain and played in the group with him, as he was their captain. Let's just say even at that age the difference between a future US Open winner and just another schools captain is astonishing. I think for 9 holes I managed a +2 playing decent and he was -3.
    Why, given that, do I think it's the best shot? Amateurs of good ability routinely go on a "streak" and win their way into a professional "open" event.

    Worst?
    I'd probably say amateur vs. pro in most any endurance sport. Triathlon, cycling, running. The margin of victory is going to be laughable. For a marathon you'd be talking about a margin of victory for the pro of probably at least 15 to 30 minutes for a full. Cycling? For a flat stage a Cat 2 or 1 rider could hang in a peloton. But as soon as there are a few hills.........forget it. Dropped. The surges are just too high and too long.

    Time trials probably could buck the trend. Reckon I could beat a fair few world tour pro's in a flat time trial, some of them have paid so little time and effort to it that they're almost in worse positions on their TT bikes than road :D
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  • OK, I've looked through the list of sports on the BBC, so I know what i'm talking about :roll: .
    American Football! specifically the kicker. only plays for about 5 secs perhaps 20 times a match.
    Just comes on to kick a ball, which someone else else holds on tee for them, through the posts. Anyone that has played footy at school-level should be able to do this, easy. Perhaps half a day training to get used to wearing a sofa, pyjamas and tin-hat.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,585
    OK, I've looked through the list of sports on the BBC, so I know what i'm talking about :roll: .
    American Football! specifically the kicker. only plays for about 5 secs perhaps 20 times a match.
    Just comes on to kick a ball, which someone else else holds on tee for them, through the posts. Anyone that has played footy at school-level should be able to do this, easy. Perhaps half a day training to get used to wearing a sofa, pyjamas and tin-hat.

    Should do it mate, they get paid a lot.

    http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/ave ... cker/null/
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,479
    I remember Paul Thorburn doing it once as a guest for an NFL team. I think it was a match at Wembley. He was a pretty consistent goal kicker in rugby union but it’s a very different prospect when the ball is being passed back to you, placed on a tee and kicked rather than just teed up and kicked in your own time even more so with 300 odd pound opposition players running at you!
  • Bull fighting, now there's a mans sport!
    You even get a tight fitting outfit, love to wear that on a sunday ride.
    bayonnebullfighting.jpg
  • cox?
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 20,569
    None.

    The difference between elite level sport and the level at which Joe Public competes is light years. I've read some interesting stories on here claiming otherwise - "I could have been a contender..." - but the truth is that you couldn't and the pros are pros for a reason, they are simply significantly, CONSISTENTLY better. I've got a few Team GBR shirts in sailing for a variety of events and can tell you that the difference between a very, very top drawer amateur (solo or crew) is absolutely light years from the pros.

    Also being in possession of a UEFA B coaching licence and being heavily involved in football I can tell you that the difference between an amateur or a pro is, again, enormous. The apocryphal tales of undiscovered talent on Sunday league pitches or outside of club academies are simply that - nonsense. A League Two footballer will be ridiculously more talented than any amateur. In fact my favourite shout at any game is "you're shoot" because I'm always keen to find out why the broadcaster of such insight is paying to sit (or stand) and watch rather than performing at that level. The PERCEPTION may be that the player doesn't fit into that team or that league/level of competition but the reality is that they are operating at a completely different level to you or me.* Football is always one that is quoted and that's because being so well supported everyone thinks they know better or, having participated, think they are better.

    *I was fortunate enough to play at my team's home stadium in a charity game at the end of last season. We had a guest player, a former pro from the club. This former pro, whilst an icon and cult figure at the club, wouldn't even figure in the top 100 of the best footballers that we've seen grace the pitch and yet he completely ran a game that had plenty of high-quality amateurs in it. He had more space, more time, better control, technique and skill and this despite being 48 so older than everyone except me!

    I think the point is that in football you have upsets. Occasionally, a premier league team loses to a lowly ranked semi-pro team. That doesn't mean that the semi-pro team is full of undiscovered Messis, just that they got lucky and are far more used to playing on low quality pitches. It also doesn't mean they would repeat the performance if they played many more times.

    This doesn't happen in other sports though e.g. I would expect a pro squash player to win every single time barring injury.

    You could rephrase the question to which sport involves the most luck.
  • TheBigBean wrote:
    [

    I think the point is that in football you have upsets. Occasionally, a premier league team loses to a lowly ranked semi-pro team.
    Don't think that has ever happened. The only time a premier league team has been beaten by a non-league team was when Luton beat Norwich and I beleive that Luton were fully professional at the time.

    If you discount the pedantry of Premier League not being the same as Division One then the one before that was 1989 when Sutton beat Coventry, so not for 28 years - rather stretching occasionally...