Billiards Participants

This paper will examine the various types of individuals who go to and participate in billiards events. The specific topics was sparked by a query into the sport. Initially, the query resulted with only ten results, which was quite a large comparison to the other individuals in my group who resulted in hundreds, if not thousands of results when querying soccer or horse racing. The low number of results encouraged me to really delve into the few amount of results to figure out the reason for such a low number. For this analysis I will focus on why these individuals are playing in these billiards competitions and where they are playing.

The location of a sporting event can be one of the most important tell tales of how much wealth the sport brings in. Before we can get into analyzing the results we must first learn about how and where the results are going to come from. For the entirety of this analysis essay I will be doing a search through the Egyptian Gazette spanning the years 1905-1907. This newspaper was produced in Egypt and now we are able to go back and take a glance into the world of Egypt and compare it to the world that we live in today. In order to do a thorough search through the Egyptian Gazette I have learned to do an advanced XPath Query to find exactly what I am looking for. The XPath Query involves inputting key words that you intend on looking for that surround the topic that you are focused on. In this analysis project, our focus will be on billiards.

Initially it will be important to do a relatively broad query search. For this project my query search will be just focused on the word “billiards”. From this point on my search would narrow down to search for the word “club” within three words of the word “billiards”. This came with a very narrow list of outputs, allowing me to carefully analyze what types of individuals would be seen at these sporting events. In my experience the word “club” within a few spaces of any sporting event or game would likely mean that the sporting event brought in a relatively large amount of money. On the other hand, this could mean that the individuals participating in the event were wealthy and could afford to bet on games or individuals participating in the game.

My query of billiards would result in about ten searches, sadly with only about four of which contained valuable information about the individuals at the sporting events. The results that I was able to query revealed that many individuals who participated were generals, corporals, or sergeants. This made me curious as to whether or not the army and navy had a larger participation rate than any other class of individuals. In order to query this thought I needed to query the words “sergeant” within three words of “billiard”. This came out with the same results that billiards came out with, but confirmed the thought that billiards participants were predominantly a part of the army and or navy.

The main limitation that I faced while attempting to query was running into such a small pool of results. This proposed that not as many people participated in billiards competitions in comparison to the other popular sports. However, it did not leave me with a large amount of information to analyze. Some of the query outputs that I had in result of my narrowed searches only led me to conclude that the billiard tournaments were typically held in club type of organizations and had some sort of monetary competition involved. The addition of a monetary element could lend a large role as to why the tournaments only involved men of higher positions in the army and or navy. With the higher positions of the men playing in the billiards tournaments could also impact what type of crowd that gathers to watch and likely bid on the men playing in the game. Typically, at the billiards events the men surrounding the wealthy or higher in position men participating in the tournament at hand were men who were in order to the men playing. These men were likely there in support of the men playing in the tournament. At this time having a support system during a particularly difficult billiards event could prove to win the tournament as a whole. Winning a tournament could also impact how individuals view you in the future and who the reigning champion would play in future billiards events.

In terms of the culture surround Alexandria around the years 1905-1907 there were many factors that played into simple aspects of life. Turnout at a tournament would impact who would play the game and how much would be bid on the game. In the world of billiards, there were never large amounts of people that would come out to the event, due to the exclusivity of a club and who they would let in.

Madi Hayes
Madi Hayes

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in fall 2019.