PDA

View Full Version : Speaking of the AER


Volcana
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:09 PM
The last 'prodigy' who wasn't subject to the Age Eligibility Rules was Martina Hingis. (Although if memory serves, Maria Sharapova got some waivers. Correct me if I'm wrong on Sharapova.) The Williams sisters weren't subject to the AER, but their parents limited their play. Clijsters must have been, and I think Henin was, though she would have been close to the line.


Point is though, the whole idea of the AER was to keep players from having their careers cut short due to injuries. And Hingis's career WAS cut short due to injury. Ditto Kournikova. I got to thinking about this because Tracy Austin came up in another thread, and she had back and nerve problems by the time she was twenty.


Flashy teen prodigies are nice, but the limitations don't deter success. Consider, Steffi Graf was only playing 14 tournaments a year when she 18. She was 19 the year of the 'Golden Slam'. And Graf actually won her last slam after Hingis won her last.


Another vaguely Hingis-related AER story. Serena Williams was, of course, a teen prodigy, a 17 year old slam winner. But she only played 12 events in 1999. Only 11 in 1998, and in 1997, while Matina Hingis was winning three slams, Orecene pulled Serena off the tour for half a year cause she wasn't hitting the books hard enough. The point NOT being that Serena would have won any of Hingis' slams. Serena wasn't ready. The point is that an adult professional tennis schedule can cause injuries that are career-threatening. Adults gets injured too. See Venus, Serena, Davenport, Mauresmo, but their bodies seem heal in a way that allows them to return to something resembling their former level of play.

So, on the whole, has the AER been a success?

faboozadoo15
Feb 9th, 2010, 05:59 PM
So, on the whole, has the AER been a success?

I don't think that AER was ever put in place to be a "success". It was put in place to protect children/minors from abuse, this case being a year round rigorous tennis season. I guess in that sense it's succeeded.

The point you raise is interesting though. What we can talk about is how different tennis might be without AER. We've seen so many mini breakthroughs by many young players recently, and they hit their first stumbling block and can't seem to recover-- see Ivanovic, Vaidisova, Chakvetadze, Szavay, etc. Are these players less motivated? Are they just not mentally tough?

Steffica Greles
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:16 PM
About time somebody brought this up.


Yes, there's no evidence to my mind that the AER has saved youngsters from crippling injuries. Perhaps it's protected them more from a psychological point of view, although I do even wonder about that. It's not like as soon as they become full-time professionals at 18 they get their first taste of the life on the tour; these girls have already been travelling the world as juniors for years by then. The sacrifices come early no matter what age they turn profesional at.

DOUBLEFIST
Feb 9th, 2010, 06:34 PM
The last 'prodigy' who wasn't subject to the Age Eligibility Rules was Martina Hingis. (Although if memory serves, Maria Sharapova got some waivers. Correct me if I'm wrong on Sharapova.) The Williams sisters weren't subject to the AER, but their parents limited their play. Clijsters must have been, and I think Henin was, though she would have been close to the line.


Point is though, the whole idea of the AER was to keep players from having their careers cut short due to injuries. And Hingis's career WAS cut short due to injury. Ditto Kournikova. I got to thinking about this because Tracy Austin came up in another thread, and she had back and nerve problems by the time she was twenty.


Flashy teen prodigies are nice, but the limitations don't deter success. Consider, Steffi Graf was only playing 14 tournaments a year when she 18. She was 19 the year of the 'Golden Slam'. And Graf actually won her last slam after Hingis won her last.


Another vaguely Hingis-related AER story. Serena Williams was, of course, a teen prodigy, a 17 year old slam winner. But she only played 12 events in 1999. Only 11 in 1998, and in 1997, while Matina Hingis was winning three slams, Orecene pulled Serena off the tour for half a year cause she wasn't hitting the books hard enough. The point NOT being that Serena would have won any of Hingis' slams. Serena wasn't ready. The point is that an adult professional tennis schedule can cause injuries that are career-threatening. Adults gets injured too. See Venus, Serena, Davenport, Mauresmo, but their bodies seem heal in a way that allows them to return to something resembling their former level of play.

So, on the whole, has the AER been a success?
Great question. Great thread.

I didn't know that the AER was put into effect to protect against injury. I thought it was in place to protect against undue exposure and exploitation of a child not ready for that kind of scrutiny or attention.

But, I suppose, no matter the purpose, it's relation to injury based on the examples you cite seem pretty compelling. So, yeah, to my mind it seems to have beeen quite effective.

Steffica Greles
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:16 PM
Kournikova was indeed subject to the AER - it was high profile at the time. As was Lucic. As was Vaidisova. As was Dokic.

Where are they now?

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:34 PM
Great question. Great thread.

I didn't know that the AER was put into effect to protect against injury. I thought it was in place to protect against undue exposure and exploitation of a child not ready for that kind of scrutiny or attention.Allow me to efer you to the January 7, 2006 British Journal of Sports Medicine (http://bjsportmed.com/content/40/5/464.abstract). This is the abstract, You have to register to get the entire article. Abstract

Concerns have long existed over the participation of adolescent athletes in professional sports. In 2004, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (WTA Tour) commissioned a Professional Development Advisory Panel (PDAP) to evaluate the WTA Tour’s age eligibility rule (AER) and professional development programmes (PDPs) for female tennis players since their inception in 1995. More than 75% of the 628 respondents supported the principles of the AER, and 90% indicated a need for PDPs. Statistical analysis of WTA Tour players’ careers found that premature retirements (players leaving the Tour at or before age 21) decreased significantly from 7% before the AER to less than 1% afterward, and median career length increased by 43%. The PDAP recommends that the WTA Tour continues a phased-in, developmentally appropriate AER, enhances the PDPs, and works with other sport governing bodies to coordinate rules and programmes at earlier ages to aid the transition of adolescents into adult sports.

Yes, there's no evidence to my mind that the AER has saved youngsters from crippling injuries.I'm not going to claim that the statistical analysis is conclusive, but you must concede it's SOME evidence.

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:43 PM
Kournikova was indeed subject to the AER - it was high profile at the time. As was Lucic. As was Vaidisova. As was Dokic.

Where are they now?Lucic, while I cannot speak defintiely, was rumored to have had problems that weren't, strictly speaking, from athletic injury.
Dokic is on the tour. Rankign 396 or so, if memory serve.
Vaidisova, as far as I know, isn't injured.

Kournikova's career was, indeed, cut short due to injury. But the point of the arguement isn't that the AER means NO career ending inuuries, but rather that it cuts down on them.

NOTE: HIngis is only nine months older than Kournikova. How did she get around the AER anyway? She played 18 events in 1996, and she was fifteen most of that year.

Randy H
Feb 9th, 2010, 08:48 PM
I guess it depends on how you term 'success' - Do I think that more players have been prevented premature burnout because of the AER rules? I think that it probably has. Obviously not everyone is the case though, as noted with Kournikova, Lucic, and others...I should point out though, that I think those players also had some fairly extreme circumstances on their shoulders. Kournikova drew media attention never before seen, Lucic and Dokic had some major family issues that surely contributed to their respective declines. The AER can only do so much...There are freak accidents, there are injuries related to just having technique that is poor which can increase the likelihood of injury, and when a player does turn 18, ultimately it's up to them to try and find a healthy balance for how much training and competing they should do. There are just too many factors thrown in there to take into account.

I think the area where AER has hurt the tour is that we've been so used to young stars in all sports. We love to see young phenoms, and clearly we are not seeing many 16, or 17 year olds charging up the rankings and competing at the highest level like we used to. For some reason, it's just not as appealing to the every day viewer to hear of 20-somethings like Pennetta making a move into the top 10, as it is a teen like Wozniacki. I'd be curious to know if the ratings from a fan point of view have been affected with the increased age in which players are peaking. It seems like tennis is clinging to Venus, Serena, Sharapova, and the Belgians for major star power, with very few at the moment seemingly in a position to fill in those voids when they are gone.

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2010, 09:01 PM
We love to see young phenoms, and clearly we are not seeing many 16, or 17 year olds charging up the rankings and competing at the highest level like we used to.That's a fair point, but maybe it's just a talent issue. Venus, Seena, Henin, Clijsters and Kuznetsova all either made slam finals or won them in their teens, and they all played schedules within the AER limits. And, going back, of course, Graf's schedule was within those limits as well.

DOUBLEFIST
Feb 9th, 2010, 09:05 PM
Allow me to efer you to the January 7, 2006 British Journal of Sports Medicine (http://bjsportmed.com/content/40/5/464.abstract). This is the abstract, You have to register to get the entire article. Abstract

Concerns have long existed over the participation of adolescent athletes in professional sports. In 2004, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (WTA Tour) commissioned a Professional Development Advisory Panel (PDAP) to evaluate the WTA Tour’s age eligibility rule (AER) and professional development programmes (PDPs) for female tennis players since their inception in 1995. More than 75% of the 628 respondents supported the principles of the AER, and 90% indicated a need for PDPs. Statistical analysis of WTA Tour players’ careers found that premature retirements (players leaving the Tour at or before age 21) decreased significantly from 7% before the AER to less than 1% afterward, and median career length increased by 43%. The PDAP recommends that the WTA Tour continues a phased-in, developmentally appropriate AER, enhances the PDPs, and works with other sport governing bodies to coordinate rules and programmes at earlier ages to aid the transition of adolescents into adult sports.

I'm not going to claim that the statistical analysis is conclusive, but you must concede it's SOME evidence.

That's facinating stuff. But this was commissioned in '04. The AER was implemented much earlier, right? So, what was the INITIAL rationale for the AER?

dsanders06
Feb 9th, 2010, 09:24 PM
Wasn't it Capriati's meltdown that triggered these rules? I thought THAT was what it was meant to protect young players against - burnout, not necessarily injuries. And in fairness, there HASN'T been anyone who's burnt out to the exent of Capriati ever since... Vaidisova's results might have plunged, but she hasn't had a nervous breakdown.

DOUBLEFIST
Feb 9th, 2010, 10:27 PM
Wasn't it Capriati's meltdown that triggered these rules? I thought THAT was what it was meant to protect young players against - burnout, not necessarily injuries. And in fairness, there HASN'T been anyone who's burnt out to the exent of Capriati ever since... Vaidisova's results might have plunged, but she hasn't had a nervous breakdown.
That's what I've always thought and believe it to be conventional wisdom, but Volcana is saying it was also to protect the health of players over the long haul. If so, I'd say it's been a success on both counts. :shrug:

watchdogfish
Feb 9th, 2010, 10:41 PM
Lucic, while I cannot speak defintiely, was rumored to have had problems that weren't, strictly speaking, from athletic injury.
Dokic is on the tour. Rankign 396 or so, if memory serve.
Vaidisova, as far as I know, isn't injured.

Kournikova's career was, indeed, cut short due to injury. But the point of the arguement isn't that the AER means NO career ending inuuries, but rather that it cuts down on them.

NOTE: HIngis is only nine months older than Kournikova. How did she get around the AER anyway? She played 18 events in 1996, and she was fifteen most of that year.

If my memory serves me correctly I think when the AER was first implemented (1994/5?) there was some rule that allowed the girls who were 14-18 at the time to compete as though they were 1 year older. Hingis and Kournikova are born in different years so came under different age brackets.

brickhousesupporter
Feb 9th, 2010, 11:03 PM
Wasn't it Capriati's meltdown that triggered these rules? I thought THAT was what it was meant to protect young players against - burnout, not necessarily injuries. And in fairness, there HASN'T been anyone who's burnt out to the exent of Capriati ever since... Vaidisova's results might have plunged, but she hasn't had a nervous breakdown.

I was also under this impression...

duhcity
Feb 9th, 2010, 11:12 PM
It's a success, but not in the way most people would think.

If you're a true prodigy, you'll eventually hit the big-time no matter what age it happens, and by big time I mean top 20. A lot of talented prodigies never hit the top 50.

The AER prepares them for a career that is long and also gives better early career experiences. I feel like it's there to protect the girls who never hit the top 50 or top 100. They may be talented and decent players, but having insane parents and coaches drive girls so hard that really aren't destined to be good players destroys not only their childhood but their life. If a girl is forced onto the tour at 14, like many parents and coaches would like, and don't go the way of Hingis, what happens? They continually toil on the tour for years, maybe enter the top 100 for a year or two of their career, but then what? They hit their 30's. They have never had a life but tennis, their coaches have left them for other youngsters, and surely one cannot live off parents forever.

Not every tennis parent is Oracene Price, who insured her girls had some base of education. If Serena or Venus hadn't become such huge players, they would have had a back-up plan and still lived fulfilling lives.

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2010, 11:15 PM
As I recall, it was Tracy Austin's early retirement that really began the AER debate (1st pro match at 14, won first GS tournament at 16). A series of back injuries before her 21st birthday, Austin was virtually finished as a top ten player. Eventually had to retire.

Andrea Jaeger's early retirement continued the debate (turned pro at 14 in 1979 and was seeded at Wimbledon in 1980). A major shoulder injury at the age of 19 ended Jaeger's career prematurely in 1985. Burnout also contributed.

Jennifer Capriati's very public early meltdown cemented it (turned pro at 13, trouble at 17). However, Jennifer was the only player of the three to successfully comeback to later win GS singles titles.This is also my memory of the sequence of events that led to the AER.

Joana
Feb 10th, 2010, 12:16 AM
It's not like as soon as they become full-time professionals at 18 they get their first taste of the life on the tour; these girls have already been travelling the world as juniors for years by then. The sacrifices come early no matter what age they turn profesional at.

I agree. It's like the AER in gymnastics - if a girl is able to do extremely difficult skills at the age of 12, she will train them, even though she won't be able to compete internationally until the age of 16.
I'd also say it's been more of a psychological benefit. In the age of AER it's very difficult to have a major breakthrough at a very young age so it's probably less pressure on young girls to start bringing in huge amounts of $$$$$$$ to their daddies and mommies in their teens.