Ronnie O'Sullivan has revealed he would rather have pursed a career in golf or Formula One for a living than snooker because it is "a waste of life" for most aspiring players.
O'Sullivan has lifted six world titles over three decades in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2020 amid a record haul of 37 ranking event victories since turning professional in 1992.
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Despite being widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, O'Sullivan has infamously battled depression off the table and admits the solitary nature of playing snooker in darkened rooms does not contribute to a healthy state of mind.
He does not want his kids to follow in his footsteps on the green baize.
"I always say to young kids, their parents, “Don’t let them play.” My own kids, I say, “You’re not playing snooker," he said.
"If they decide to play snooker they’re on their own, I’m not supporting that.
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It’s a bad sport, it can cause you a lot of damage. Unless you’re Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Higgins, Mark Williams, me, Judd Trump, (Mark) Selby, (Neil) Robertson..forget it.
"The others, it’s just a waste of a life. Even some of them names I’ve mentioned, even some of them, they’re good at what they do but if they could be equally be good at something else, I think, “Go for the other thing!”
O'Sullivan begins his season on Tuesday 20 July when he faces three-times women's world champion Ng On Yee of Hong Kong in the Championship League at Morningside Arena in Leicester in a group that also contains Mark Joyce and Ian Burns.
O'Sullivan describes the green solitude as a major factor in "snooker depression" and explained to Eurosport earlier this year that the reward must justify the hours of personal "hurt" but does not always achieve its purpose.
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"If something is hurting bad, as long as the reward is good enough, I don’t mind hurting, but as long as the reward doesn’t justify the hurt, you think, ‘hold on, I’m not utilising my time in the right way,’" he said.
Martin Gould, Mark Allen, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy have all spoken out in recent times about the mental health issues they have been forced to confront during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also remains an ongoing issue for O'Sullivan.
"Snooker’s just a really, really tough sport. Stuck indoors, no natural light, draw the curtains, in there for five or six hours, you don’t talk to anyone," he told the Disruptive Entrepreneur podcast.
"That’s not healthy, that’s not a good way to spend your life.
Look at a lot of snooker players, they don’t know how to have a conversation because they don’t talk. Life’s all about getting a buzz and the joy of life. For me I’ve detached from snooker over the last 20 years.
"They don’t see me at a venue and a lot of players say, “What do you do?”
"I’m like, “I have a life! I like to enjoy doing other things. I can turn up for a match at 2 o’clock and at 1.50pm I put my shirt and tie on, I don’t need to practice, I’m not that bothered.
"Like I said, I wouldn’t have chose snooker, I’d probably have chosen golf or Formula One."
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