SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The French Open and Ruminations on Tennis

Are you following the French Open? Do you know who the semifinalists are on the men's side of the tournament? Did you know that the Williams sisters were eliminated, Serena by Jennifer Capriati (who, despite having been around forever, is only something like 26 years old) and Venus by a player named Myskina (whom SportsProf confesses he hasn't heard of). What has happened to professional tennis?

I also cannot figure out the economics of tennis. Sports Illustrated, in a recent edition, identified the top 50 people in sports in terms of compensation. There were more NBA players than anyone else, and those included Grant Hill, who has played, what, something like 12 games in the past 4 years. At any rate, three tennis players made the list -- Andre Agassi, Serena and Venus, and their off-court earnings were about 10-fold more than their on-court earnings. That would suggest, strongly, that they have a lot of endorsement income. Which would be fine, except can you figure out precisely why -- if hardly anyone watches professional tennis anymore.

About thirty years ago (or more), boxing, auto racing (Indy style especially) and horse racing were among the biggest draws in spectator sports. People also liked to watch professional tennis, and there were a plethora of great players. Today, tennis is in danger of falling by the wayside, the way boxing and horse racing (notwithstanding occasional bits of inspiration) virtually have. SportsProf doesn't have a cure for professional tennis, but he'll try to think of one.

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