Exclusive: Ronnie O’Sullivan on why he wants his kids to avoid snooker – ‘You shut down emotions’

Ronnie O’Sullivan has repeated his claim that he does not want his children to pursue a career in snooker, saying “I just wouldn’t want my child to live that life”.

O’Sullivan courted huge controversy after his comments last year – telling Eurosport he would insist his kids “don’t choose snooker” – with fellow Class of ’92 star John Higgins branding them “a disgrace”.

But speaking to promote his new two-hour Eurosport show Seventh Heaven, premiering on Saturday 15 October, the Rocket said that although he loved the sport, he believed the environment was not conducive to a happy life.


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When asked if his opinion had changed, O’Sullivan told Eurosport: “No, absolutely not. I think being in a snooker room, a dark room, playing as most snooker players do for five-six hours a day… they don’t talk, they don’t communicate, it’s a lonely life on the tour.

“I want my kids to be sociable. I want them to be out in the fresh air. I want them to have a good life.

“And I just look at snooker and I think that for all but a handful of players, it’s a real struggle. When you see them at tournaments that’s the great side of it. But the actual day to day, in a snooker club, the nutrition isn’t great, the environment’s not great.

“I kind of just think, would I want my child to grow up in that environment? Would I want my child to go through what I went through?

“Now if they went through what I went through, I would say it’s probably worth it because the rewards have offset some of the negative sides of it. But that’s not the case for a lot of the players.

“So you kind of think there are better choices and better decisions to make.

“It wasn’t like I was saying it because snooker’s not a great sport – I love the sport, I love playing it. But I could equally love playing tennis and golf and driving a Formula 1 car.

“So I would always steer my kid to choose a sport that they could equally get as much love out of, but yet probably have a better time, a better life and enjoy it more. That was why I said what I said [last year]. I probably didn’t explain it well enough. That was my thought process.”

O’Sullivan is the sport’s most famous face and arguably its greatest ever player, with the Rocket sealing a record-equalling seventh world title at the Crucible in May.

But despite his successes on the green baize, O’Sullivan said he wants his children to find a different passion.

“It’s just a tough sport. A lot of snooker players are quite introverted because they are quiet for a lot of the time,” he said.

“It’s quite a mentally taxing sport and I think you shut down a lot of emotions. I just wouldn’t want my child to live that life.

“I would want them to be creative, expressive, work in an environment where they are surrounded by brilliant people that are inspiring. I just don’t see that energy on the snooker circuit or in the snooker clubs.”

O’Sullivan said there were changes World Snooker could implement to make the sport more attractive, although he would not be drawn on specifics and said he had given up trying to drive positive change.

“I have just accepted there is no change,” he added.

“The only change that will happen is if someone at World Snooker decides that they think it’s the right thing to do.

“The players don’t really get listened to. They are an afterthought – business first, snooker players second.

“You kind of [think] there’s no point trying to have a voice in snooker for the players. I’m better off just doing my own thing , enjoying it for what it is and keeping my mouth shut really.”

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The Home Nations series returns on Sunday with the Northern Ireland Open live and exclusive on discovery+. You can also watch Seventh Heaven, a two-part show about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s historic World Championship win last season, from Saturday at 8pm.


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