Really interesting article in the NYtimes the other day that covers the end of the pool hustler. Apparently until the last decade its been profitable enough for them to earn a living from hustling in various haunts. According to the author, L. Jon Wertheim, "pool hustlers have joined American heavyweight boxing champs, complete-game pitchers, hockey goons and drug-free cyclists as relics in sports. Endearing bit players in the cast of American culture, hustlers have been written out of future episodes."Apparently this was due to two things, the death of the International Pool Tour and the birth of internet poker. Why should players risk driving miles to earn $500 bucks only to get beat up and lose it in the parking lot.
Wertheim, poigantly states "The death of hustling marks the end of a uniquely American pursuit. What’s a more vivid extension of the frontier mentality than a man, carrying only a wooden stick, slinking into town and making a buck?" America has always been defined by the cavalier attitude from the time of buccaneers to cowboys to the dot-commers.
Have the mavericks and cowboys merely gone underground and/or become hackers? Are they all playing videogames or racing cars? Surely its part of a behavior evolution, and we cant argue that pool is any less popular. With so many behaviors becoming digital, we must ask ourselves at what cost is physical behavior being redefined?