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Social Construct Of A Pool Hall

1564 words - 6 pages

Social Construct of a Pool Hall

Billiards, or more commonly referred to as pool has been played for many decades. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century it was played by those of upper class standing in their homes. Over the twentieth century pool shifted roles, becoming part of middle and lower class society. With the class change, pool also moved out of the home and into bars and halls. Pool has been forever transformed; today there are three main groups of pool players to be found in pool halls; professional players: blue collar players, and teenage players.

Non-pool players hold a very stereotypical view of what makes up a pool hall and its patrons. It tends to be a bar, full of drunkenness and fighting. Gambling, smoking, and trashy women standing next to their men. As one mother of five children stated in her interview, "it's motorcycle people." Here she was referring to the type of people who go to pool halls. And while she has never been herself, nor does she plan to go, she describes her motorcycle people as wearing, "leather jackets with fringe over dirty white t-shirts." These stereotypes could be possible for the lack of families and older couples who would go to pool halls. As with many stereotypes, this one is also inaccurate, of the three groups, the description of a "motorcycle person" does not fit in.

To define the groups of pool players, I studied a pool hall in Waterford, Michigan. This pool hall is located on the Waterford border with Pontiac, right off the main highway, in a collapsing business district. This area has seen its better days; it is now falling down the economic ladder. Now it resembles many inner cities of America. The hall is tucked back in off the highway, next to a transmission shop with somewhere around fifteen cars parked behind a chain-link fence.

This pool hall shares many common features with the typical pool hall, and I say that from experience. For instance, it furnishes roughly thirty tables of all shapes and sizes, a bar with a grille, and enough smoke to cause lung cancer. However, it is the little details that contribute to the atmosphere of this pool hall. Right inside the door is a cigarette machine with a large warning label on the glass, warning minors that they will be caught if they purchase cigarettes from this machine. Ashtrays line all of the tables, under each table lie two stools, stains covering the seat cushions. Above every few tables are television monitors, either turned off or playing some big game. These details alone do not separate the groups. The real detail lies within table rental. The ten tables closest to the doors are reserved for league games, which is to say that only league players are supposed to rent those tables on tournament nights. On first examination, this alone may seem to be the cause of social division, but it is not the only reason.

The first group of players, which I have labeled as, professional players, are marked...

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