A Brief History of the Billiard Congress of America
The Billiard Congress of America was established in 1948, with early involvement by players like Willie Mosconi and Willie Hoppe. The objective was to organize the players and promote the sport through qualifying tournaments at the local, regional and national levels in Straight Pool and 3-Cushion billiards (the popular competitive disciplines of the era) and recognize those champions. Organizers were also determined to produce an official rulebook to standardize the sport and help fund the effort; and to involve billiard rooms, retailers and manufacturers in meeting these promotional goals.
During World War II, a great number of soldiers took up billiards at military camps and the industry expected a tremendous surge in peacetime popularity for the sport. But instead, soldiers generally returned home, got married, started families and built a suburban life. Despite the best efforts of the many constituents of the Billiard Congress of America, the sport fell into a depression in the late 1940s and the entire 1950s. Throughout this period, the association was anchored by its official rulebook and the official recognition of World and National Championships only through Billiard Congress of America sanctioning. In 1961 the movie "The Hustler" was released and single-handedly revived the sport for a few years. The Billiard Congress of America began promoting the US Open 14.1 Championships in 1966, the most prestigious professional event of its time.
From 1948 to 1980, the Billiard Congress of America had a board of directors and elected officers, but no physical headquarters. The National Sporting Goods Association kept the files of the Billiard Congress of America, and handled day-to-day administration. In 1980, long-time US Open director Robert Froeschle volunteered to set up a permanent Billiard Congress of America office in his hometown of Iowa City, Iowa. The Billiard Congress of America called Iowa City its home for many years, moving to bigger office space as the organization grew.
In 1982, the Billiard Congress of America board of directors created an industry trade show, at which all segments of the sport could meet. Today the BCA Summit is the industry's largest annual billiard and home recreation expo. In addition to exhibits, the events features business seminars for all sections of the billiards industry and social events designed to promote peer to peer relationships.
The Billiard Congress of America moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2000. While in Colorado, the association established its mission to, "Enhance the success of our members and promote the game of billiards." Further, the Billiard Congress of America agreed that its vision is to, "Achieve a united, growing, prosperous and highly regarded billiard industry through Billiard Congress of America leadership." In the early 2000's, the Billiard Congress of America elected to sell its league operations to CueSports International.
The Billiard Congress of America also operates the Professional Billiard Instructors Association. With more than 210 members, the PBIA provides on-going certification and training for its membership. The Billiard Congress of America also launched the playbetterbilliards website in 2012, aimed at promoting the benefits of seeking out quality, PBIA-certified instructors. The association also promotes the website via a Google Adword campaign that has seen more than 35,000 searches for PBIA instructors.
Today, the Billiard Congress of America provides its members:
- Exclusive discounts and savings from leading billiard and home recreation manufacturers through the Billiard Congress of America Rewards Program.
- Members-only access to industry research and statistics, including consumer insights, in-depth pool room operator and retailer business analytics.
- Free Billiard Congress of America merchandise (rule books, instructional booklets and dvd's, tournament flow charts, etc.).
- Promotion via the BCA's consumer website, GenerationPool.com.
- Member's-only access to an online Billiard Congress of America membership directory.
- Access to industry and business news, via an eNewsletter.
- Free admission for retailers and room operators to the Billiard Congress of America's industry trade show.
- Discounted booth space for manufacturers and distributors at the Billiard Congress of America's industry trade show.
Additionally, the Billiard Congress of America has the honor of being the North American representative to the World-Pool Billiard Association. As such, the organization is responsible for selecting players for world championships, rules and specifications input and other timely topics paramount to the sport and industry. This position permits the Billiard Congress of America to publish the "Official Rules and Records Book, World-Standardized Rules." The Billiard Congress of America also oversees the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.