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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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Whither Wimbledon?

The tennis is good.

The setting is historic.

The commentators seem good.

But how many people are watching?

It's amazing how television coverage and sports coverage has progressed almost to the point that you can catch almost any game you want to at any time.  That phenomenon seemingly has had two results -- one to dilute the viewership for all but the most compelling events (e.g., the World Cup) and to reduce the appeal of the tennis majors because my so-called scarcity factor has evaporated.  As for the latter, when there were seven television channels (and the dreaded UHF channels had trouble staying in focus on perhaps carried only your local baseball team), we watched Wimbledon in part because there wasn't much else covered on TV at the time.  True, there were compelling figures, but the network that covered tennis made them all the more compelling because there wasn't nearly as much to watch on TV.  Today, with much more choice -- including sports that appeal to bigger groups of people -- tennis has become almost an afterthought.

Is it because there isn't a good crop of Americans outside the Williams' sisters, who are near or at the end of their run?  Is it because with the advances in technology there isn't as much drama in the "smash and volley" tennis that there was when the points were longer?  Is it because so many players cycle through that it's hard to develop a following for any one particular player?  Or is it because the game is as good as it ever was, but other sports have surpassed it?  My guess is that it's a combination of the two.


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