Re: Shamil Tarpischev: we are killing American tennis
I think miffedmax has some very valid points about the US situation.
On the women's side, I don't think a lot of American girls see themselves becoming professional athletes anyway. And today, you don't have to do much study to realize that to succeed at tennis, you pretty much have to devote your life to the sport from a very young age, as almost every tennis success story makes clear.
So, if you are interested in sports, but still want a career in some other area, plus want marriage and kids, plus want to have some fun socializing during your college years, the smart move is probably not to go for tennis, but for women's basketball or soccer or something, even though these sports do not offer much opportunity for women who want to turn pro.
In Russia and the other former soviet bloc countries, as well as in China and many other places today, there is a lot more economic incentive to try for a professional career in sports and of course, tennis is the career that really pays, at least if you get into the top ranks.
The one part I disagree with is whether this is just a short term problem for America, or whether we are seeing a major trend here.
Here's the problem, which I have also spelled out in other threads. Americans are pretty nationalistic (called it jingoistic if you want) and don't spend too much time rooting for non-Americans. And American TV has long proven that it doesn't really want to show anyone but Americans playing matches. (Which is why we've been forced to sit through every clunker delivered by Andy Roddick in the last five years.)
So if American TV finds fewer and fewer American girls to show in the second week of major tournaments, it is going to show less of those tournaments, which means tennis will fall father off the radar for the athletically talented American girl.
They may have wanted to grow up to be Billie Jean and then Chrissy and then Jennifer and then Venus and Serena, but I am not sure how many American girls will want to grow up to be the next Maria or Svetlana.