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Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:00 PM
Women's tennis is a (very) minor sport.

I got to thinking about why that was. One think that jumps out is, women's tennis is virtually the only sport with a long history that denigrates, rather than celebrates, it's old time champions.

Few in boxing ever argue that Rocky Marciano's wins weren't worth as much as Mike Tyson's. Names like Schmelling, Graziano and Corbett still resonate in boxing circles.

Few in figure skating argue Peggy Fleming's titles aren't as significant as Katerina Witt's.

In baseball, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb played in eras where a lot of the best players weren't even allowed into the major leagues, just because they were Black. Yet no one suggests that Ruth's home run numbers don't count. No one says Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson's records were accomplished aganst inferior competition. They have too much respect for the sport.

In football, names like Ernie Nevers and Jim Thorpe are still revered.

Juan Manuel Fangio (the first) is not considered second rate compared to Michael Schumacher

In men's tennis, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Pancho Gonzalez, to name a few, are still respected for what they accomplished. I've never heard anyone suggest that Andre Agassi was superior to Rod Laver. If you know the history of the sport, the idea is ludicrous.

But ah, women's tennis.

Compare Margaret Court Smith to Steffi Graf and you get a very different reaction than to the Agassi-Laver comparison.

Roy Emerson still means a lot to fans of men's tennis. Maria Bueno is lost in the mists of time to fans of women's tennis.

If I ask, who was more talented, Hana Mandlikova or Justine Henin-Hardenne, the response will mostly be blank stares. (Well, I'm testing that even as we speak.)

If the fans of a sport have little or no respect for it's history and past champions, I thin it unlikely that sport will sustain popularity. So when we wonder why women's tennis can't get coverage, it isn't all bad marketing. In many ways, television shows the same level of respect for women's tennis that we fans do. We're fans of individual players. We SAY we're fans of the sport. But we certainly don't accord our past champions the respect they do in other sports.

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:12 PM
Thoughts and reactions are, as always, accepted in the same spirit they are offered.

irma
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:13 PM
Then I will post it here;)
I had an arguement once about the fact if Novotna was a great player or not. I said yes because it's really hard to win a slam, but the other person disagreed. I think there is a problem too
people think you are only great when you won 20 slams :o

MLF
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:20 PM
I agree with Volcana's point, but it is up to those in charge of women's tennis to have made more of their previous champions legacy, it's the WTA or former WITA who have undersold a lot of the previous players. However, I disagree with the notion it is a very minor sport. Are there any other women's sports with comparable paychecks and big name global stars? In terms of women's sport, tennis is huge.


Irma's point is a good one too - how many "greats" can there be in any one era? I'd argue one or two greats and a couple of extremely good players. Since the early '80s until now I'd only categorize Navratilova, Evert, Graf & Seles as "greats". I think with a bit more activity Serena is almost there too. Venus and Henin have that route open to them too as they are both still young enough to start getting a very impressive tally of slam titles

croat123
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:23 PM
actually, i'd say that women's tennis is the most popular women's sport in the world right now. now if only espn would get the memo...

*JR*
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:28 PM
Excellent post, Mount Whatever-the-fuck-they-name-after-you! :p Of course re. Margaret Court, 11 of her 24 Slams were in Oz, in an era when the prize money didn't motivate too many top players to make that loooonnnngggg trip, a sort of "asterisk".

And the "one third or so" in general that female tennis players got B4 the 70's (women's tour, the silly-but-popular "Battle of the Sexes" between Riggs and King, America's Sweetheart Chrissie, then her rivalry with the great Martina I :worship: ) didn't encourage much promotion.

Then They completed the marketing puzzle by deciding that Sex Sells, and the legends of babes like Darling Carling Bassett and Gabby Sabatini was born. (Sorry, Annaholics, she was NOT the first 2B so marketed :p)!

sartrista7
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:53 PM
The 'lack of respect' to former champions is most harmfully manifest in the constant reiteration that today's top players would have no problems beating them - how many times have we heard that Serena, for example, would be too strong for Lenglen/Court/Navratilova and is therefore better than them? She almost certainly could beat them, but the second point doesn't necessarily follow and is irrelevant in any case.

The thing is, when the women's prime selling point is characters as opposed to games, it's inevitable that you'll attract short term 'player' fans, as opposed to tennis fans... and those player fans will seek to denigrate all the players they don't support in order to build up their idol, and this includes past champions.

for-sure
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:42 PM
sport is a process of evolution. Had Serena been born in the 1960's/50's should would not be the player she is today.

skanky~skanketta
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:55 PM
the problem with women's tennis currently, is that loadsa people expect too much drama AND results.if u notice the sports greats (ladies tennis) only those with the slams combined with drama are remembered.

steffi: just for being steffi, peter graf...
monica: the stabbing
the sisters: two black girls kicking ass in a predominantly white sport.
martina navratilova: she was a lesbian
hingis: girls middle name was drama
chris evert: one of the best americans.

other slam winners are not recognized by many such as ASV, mandlikova novotna, pierce, sabatini, majoli...they didnt have a popular story to tell.

in margaret courts case, people dont give her much credit simply cuz she won everything. it was an automatic assumption that there was no competition.

skanky~skanketta
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:57 PM
and besides, the whole sex-sells bit is true. womens tennis suddenly surged with the emergence of anna k, the sisters, hingis...all at the same time. the thing is that because there's not much sex to sell (current hotties have become mundane) the sport is being ignored.

Redhawk
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:58 PM
in margaret courts case, people dont give her much credit simply cuz she won everything. it was an automatic assumption that there was no competition.also the woman has completely flipped, her opinions are so far from being pc, it's an embarrasment to publicise her. sorry to any court fans, great champ and everything, but she's a wacko.

paellapan
Feb 7th, 2004, 07:00 PM
actually, i'd say that women's tennis is the most popular women's sport in the world right now.

Totally agree ! If tennis isn't a "major" women's sport, which sport is then ? :confused:

Maybe the thread-starter is a little biased and has this feeling because of the injuries of her/his faves, which is again totally understandable ;)

Leo_DFP
Feb 7th, 2004, 07:04 PM
I disagree. I don't think that it is a lack of historical knowledge of the women's tour that is hindering the sport in the present. That doesn't seem logical to me. The real problems are too many injuries for top players (even more than on the men's tour these days!) and some bad product (i.e. the entire women's Australian Open).

*JR*
Feb 7th, 2004, 07:30 PM
The modern racquets allow Power Players to just pound it from the basline too much, IMO, thus virtually killing off the risky but exciting serve & volley game. (OMG, Chrissie might Have Had the edge on Martina I)! :eek: BTW, re. "what other female sport..."? Ask Annika! ;)

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:30 PM
Totally agree ! If tennis isn't a "major" women's sport, which sport is then ? :confused:
I never said tennis wasn't a majot sport among women's sports. Among ALL sports it's a minor sport. In the seventies and early eighties, that it was a lot higher up the pantheon of sport in popularity, at least in the USA.

Maybe the thread-starter is a little biased and has this feeling because of the injuries of her/his faves
Well, that was an incredibly stupid comment. Insulting too. Well, I suppose it was deliberately intended to be insulting. So please go take a walk in the middle of the autobahn.

paellapan
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:40 PM
I never said tennis wasn't a majot sport among women's sports. Among ALL sports it's a minor sport. In the seventies and early eighties, that it was a lot higher up the pantheon of sport in popularity, at least in the USA.


Well, that was an incredibly stupid comment. Insulting too. Well, I suppose it was deliberately intended to be insulting. So please go take a walk in the middle of the autobahn.


Don't be so "volcanish" :rolleyes:
it was not at all intended to be insulting, the ;) should have made that clear. But if you can't take a little irony go take a walk in the middle of the autobahn :p

unbelievable, how fast people here are getting on their high horse... ever heard about thinking before posting ?

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:40 PM
The real problems are too many injuries for top players ....
Virtually all sports suffer from injuries to top players. At least in the USA, that deosn't hurt football, or basketball or baseball or hockey. That doesn't impact popularity for them. There's a lot more to the popularity of a sport than who's on the field in a given match. In most sports, comparing players from different eras is part of the tradition. Part of what makes sports is history.

After that last Super Bowl, there was a lot of talk about if that was the best Super Bowl ever. That's not even worth discussing if you figure players fromthe 1960's were so inferior the comparison's worthless.

...and some bad product (i.e. the entire women's Australian Open).
IMO, there wasn't anything wrong with OZ (other than Venus not winning). A couple of surprise semi-finalists, true. But how often have we heard complaints about how top-heavy the women's tour is? On the men's side, seeing two players seeded that low make the semis is called 'depth'.

paellapan
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:44 PM
I DID think. I though you were an asshole and I wished you dead.

wishful thinking then :p

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:47 PM
You seem aggressive lately.
What? ME?!?! The soul of pacifism? The paragon of non-violence? Surely not.

decemberlove
Feb 7th, 2004, 08:59 PM
its women... playing a sport.. with no physical contact. people are a lot more violent today than they were in the 70's, 80's.

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 09:03 PM
its women... playing a sport.. with no physical contact. people are a lot more violent today than they were in the 70's, 80's.
Whooooa... another country heard from. Could you expound on that point a little? I had never considered increased societal violence as its reflected in sport. However, I must point out that for some folks (American Blacks for example), things are a lot LESS violent than they were in the 70's.

Lady
Feb 7th, 2004, 11:07 PM
Well, don't base your view of not enough coverage on ESPN!
We get WTA Tennis almost every week on Eurosport!
It's even near to soccer in coverage!
So I wouldn't say it's a minor sport!

Volcana
Feb 7th, 2004, 11:30 PM
Well, don't base your view of not enough coverage on ESPN!
We get WTA Tennis almost every week on Eurosport!
It's even near to soccer in coverage!
So I wouldn't say it's a minor sport!
I wasn't limiting my comments to ESPN, but it IS limited to the USA, since I live here. If you get to see the WTA every week on Europe, I can only say I'm incredibly, incredibly jealous.

And further, I amend all my previous comments to be limited to the United States.

Every week.

Damn.

That's soooooooo unfair.

~ The Leopard ~
Feb 8th, 2004, 12:04 AM
People are less violent, but public spectacle is more so. There is a nostalgia for violence in our society. This has been the tendency for some decades.

I agree with Volcana that we should revere Court, Lenglen, etc, etc. We should remember the past, and we don't do enough.

However, I doubt that these are the reasons for the relative unpopularity of women's sports.

Men watch sport because they are thrilled at the displays of physical skill and prowess (and sometimes of violence, let's face it). They are also pyschologically inclined to want to check out what other men can do in that department. They are not interested in what women can do in that sense, and they don't take it seriously. Many men who are seriously interested in sport are pretty good at it themselves. A lot of them probably think (wrongly) that they could beat the women on the WTA tour. They will never respect them the way they respect male athletes including Roddick, Agassi, Safin, etc.

What men are psychologically disposed to watch in women is something very different which I need not spell out.

As for women, you will never get a female audience for sport as big and enthusiastic as the male audience. Women, too, like to check out the physical skills and prowess of men, and their appearance. They are more interested in more socially-mediated skills than the physical ones involved in sport, however, so male rock stars will always be more important to women than male sports stars.

By and large, women are not concerned about the physical prowess and skills of other women. What they worry about with other women is their physical attractiveness (whether as rivals or as people to identify with).

Now I'm not suggesting that all this is how it should be, just how it is. It would be healthy etc etc if both men and women took women's sport more seriously. I love watching female athletes play tennis, volleyball, etc. However, it is a minority taste in just about any society.

The miracle is that one sport, tennis, has such a successful women's tour. However, it is still nowhere near as popular as men's football (soccer, gridiron, rugby, etc), and it never will be unless we change human nature.

Note that the sports where women are actually bigger stars than men are ice skating and gymnastics. Those sports have a huge emphasis on aesthetic characteristics: grace, etc. The beauty and grace of Katarina Witt or Svetlana Khorkina can make them superstars in a sport like that.

disposablehero
Feb 8th, 2004, 12:36 AM
Women's tennis is a (very) minor sport.

I got to thinking about why that was. One think that jumps out is, women's tennis is virtually the only sport with a long history that denigrates, rather than celebrates, it's old time champions.

Few in boxing ever argue that Rocky Marciano's wins weren't worth as much as Mike Tyson's. Names like Schmelling, Graziano and Corbett still resonate in boxing circles.

Few in figure skating argue Peggy Fleming's titles aren't as significant as Katerina Witt's.

In baseball, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb played in eras where a lot of the best players weren't even allowed into the major leagues, just because they were Black. Yet no one suggests that Ruth's home run numbers don't count. No one says Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson's records were accomplished aganst inferior competition. They have too much respect for the sport.

In football, names like Ernie Nevers and Jim Thorpe are still revered.

Juan Manuel Fangio (the first) is not considered second rate compared to Michael Schumacher

In men's tennis, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Pancho Gonzalez, to name a few, are still respected for what they accomplished. I've never heard anyone suggest that Andre Agassi was superior to Rod Laver. If you know the history of the sport, the idea is ludicrous.

But ah, women's tennis.

Compare Margaret Court Smith to Steffi Graf and you get a very different reaction than to the Agassi-Laver comparison.

Roy Emerson still means a lot to fans of men's tennis. Maria Bueno is lost in the mists of time to fans of women's tennis.

If I ask, who was more talented, Hana Mandlikova or Justine Henin-Hardenne, the response will mostly be blank stares. (Well, I'm testing that even as we speak.)

If the fans of a sport have little or no respect for it's history and past champions, I thin it unlikely that sport will sustain popularity. So when we wonder why women's tennis can't get coverage, it isn't all bad marketing. In many ways, television shows the same level of respect for women's tennis that we fans do. We're fans of individual players. We SAY we're fans of the sport. But we certainly don't accord our past champions the respect they do in other sports.
An extremely good post. Also explains why the old-timers don't come out during the Slams. #1 because they would get no recognition and #2 because they are probably fairly bitter about how the media describes them.

Of course the other reason tennis men and womens doesn't do so well is because its not a TV sport. A match can go 30 minutes or 4 hours.

SJW
Feb 8th, 2004, 12:41 AM
VERY good post :worship:

Sam L
Feb 8th, 2004, 12:42 AM
Yeah... most people think they could beat Helen Wills and Suzanne Lenglen. Like they're some kind of 19th century ladies who barely know how to hit the tennis ball. :rolleyes:

arcus
Feb 8th, 2004, 01:04 AM
good thread

couple of points.....

I know what u mean about tennis in the grand scheme of things, but i think its always worth remembering that women in tennis have an amazing profile compared to other women in sport. Ask the average "jock" to name women tennis players and they will go on for a while. THey know kournakova of course, but they also know navratilva graf seles the williams and prob the belgians and hingus and davenport and many others. Ask the same question about other sports and they will struggle except maybe a few in athletics, ice sports, some golfers.
And though not quite equal in financial status, the women and men are close in tennis and that is a good thing, and exceptional in sport in general.

That did not happen by accident. It took a lot of work from some pioneers in the sport to get to the point that your fav makes many millions a year. so props to the much maligned BJK and others including MN who pushed so hard for the game to increase its profile, and equal the mens game. Imagine that in BB baseball NFL or whatever.

Go WTA!!

I dont think that all of the newer players get that history lesson, as they cash their huge pay cheques. IMO, they have a responsibility to support the game like their predecessors did. obviously not just for them selves but for the players in the game who may never be number 1 but are still part of the drama, and for the gernerations to come.

U dont hear as much talked in the TV about the history of the womens game. I agree. I'm some respects its younger, and some of the really great names in the game are recent or still active, like evert navratilova or graf. even BJK was recenty fed cup captain.

Actually its amazing how many greats there have been recently, when u thing that so many players in the modern era have won all 4 slams, whereas in the mens game in the modern era that means laver and agassi. I think it has been harder in the mens game cos fo the greater power.

In fact, when sampras was active people often said that he was the greatest ever, although he never won the french. Never won a career slam. At least agassi won them all, although i dont think he holds a candle to laver....

last couple of years the women were kicking the mens asses, in terms of interest. Amazing. now it looks like things might changing again a bit..... Some of the top women arent playing regularly unfortunately, and there are "exciting" men on tour.

In large part, IMO, its all about the great competition and how it grips the public. great rivalries will always pull in new and old fans.,

Borg Mc enroe
Evert Navratilova
and many others

but u cant manufacture that magic. It just happens. So im uneasy about hate the HYPE around some of the newer americans, as great as they are. let them go prove themselves as they will. Dont burden them with expectations first. I think its getting to be more more about the $ than what the players or sport.


I think women need to work harder in sport. Not right, just a fact of life. I wish some of the former greats in womens tennis would work harder for the game, eg court and graf.......

mboyle
Feb 8th, 2004, 01:48 AM
Volcana, I will have to respectufully disagree.Women's tennis is easily the most popular women's sport in the USA, and in the world. That is a fact that I came across in doing my sexism in sports speech last year. I wouldn't even go so far as to say past champions are forgotten and snuffed, though perhaps we do get caught in the awe of Serena Williams and lose sight of Margaret Court's unprecedented power in her day, or in Maria Sharapova and forget the protege that was Maureen Connolly. I think that, generally, we tend to divide on favorite players, and (especially on this darn board) argue incessantly over petty issues of talent and greatness (Williams fans claiming that no one else's wins ever matter because either Venus/Serena weren't playing, or were playing badly etc., other fans celebrating at any Sister loss as opposed to being happy for the victor,) but such is human nature, and I think it is the case with any individual sport.

As to why women's tennis isn't in the same league as MLB/NFL/etc., there are three main reasons. First, there is the way tennis is set up. The game still has a stigma of "the country club sport," and really isn't one that the majority of people will find exciting, as one must admit that there is a certain repetition with the ball being struck back and forth continuously. Without an eye to appreciate the various spins, angles, and paces of individual players (which demands much more attention than more straight-forward games such as basketball and football,) enthusiasm is hard to stimulate. Also, the scoring of tennis is RIDICULOUSLY complicated--perhaps the most so in sports, thus average joes get confused just trying to follow one match. Finally, the endlessly long season stifles any build up of excitement like with opening game of baseball or pre-season games in football. The same problem also results in countless injuries that drastically shortens players' careers and thus prevents modern-day greats from really shaping, as well as hampering the development of true rivalries among players.

However, even with such ingrained deficiencies of the game, Women's tennis is a great product that should be marketed much better. First, for the good of the game, the season must be shortened so that it runs from February to Mid-October. Such a timeframe would allow for the four majors, plus the year-ending championship, which really should be turned into THE premeir event of the sport. If more tournaments were played on clay and (particularly) grass, as well as soft carpet, not only would a wider array of players be fostered, but injuries could be reduced. In all honesty, the tour needs to be made stronger so that it has real authority over tournaments and players to mandate the number and which tournaments players must play, how much prizemoney must be offered at each level, and when tournaments of various geographic locations and surfaces may be played. Most importantly, the majors need to be made to offer equal and better prizemoney, and to move to more convenient times. Finally, the tour needs to launch a media blitz. It must negotiate for more and better TV coverage, it must continue with its media campaign, while continuing to develop and market individual players and marquee matchups, and it truly must work to develop the game across the globe instead of focusing solely on Europe. We do need more US tournaments (as the game is strongest there,) but we also need more tournaments in South America, Africa, and Asia/Pacific. But why stop there? I feel the tour is obliged to hold clinics and try to develop camps and other development tools to search for talent in unexpected places. As no one sport yet dominates many third world country psyches, tennis has a good shot to make a significant amount of money from such places by being that sport. Obviously all of these ideas cost a ton of money, and thus the tour will need to find a dedicated, generous sponsor like Virginia Slims was in order to reach its full potential.

Sadly, however, even if the tour were to carry out all of the above perfectly, women's tennis would still never enter the upper echelons of sport, by virtue of sexism. Let's face it: there is a feeling in our society that sports are for guys and by guys, and though we say we aren't sexist and women can play sports, it is almost insulting to go and watch them. Sports writers/networks contribute to this by devoting 90% of coverage to men's sports (the remainder is divided among women's sports and animal sports:o .) True, the demand is primarily for men's, but an interest can not be fostered without tv time, scores in newspapers, articles, and photos of the top players. As human beings, I feel that sportswriters should feel a need to treat female and male athletes equally, and though the feeling is that money will be lost originally, I do not believe this, and besides, what might be lost will certainly be made up in the long run once an interest is developed.

So, basically, tennis' core is quite different from those of popular sports, the WTA fails to run and market itself in such a way as to attract a true following and maximize talent, and the simple sexist attitude of the business seals the fate of women's tennis. Among all of this, it is amazing that tennis remains the most popular women's sport on the planet by far (it is even more popular than men's soccer and hockey in the USA.) My question is, once Serena/Venus are gone for good, how long will such interest be sustained with the current system?

Greenout
Feb 8th, 2004, 02:00 AM
WTA's bad marketing? I've just got 2 words...KIMIKO DATE.


Paradorn is being plugged as Asia's greatest tennis player. Kimiko's
career is by far superior to his, and considering the economic clout
Japan has in the world- the USA dominated WTA agenda really gave
her nothing. Hardly featured on ESPN wta matches...rarely shown in
grand slams; but the scores were given. :haha:

I guess it's nothing new because the WTA has always been White American
in marketing and player promotion choices. Anna? She happened w/out
the WTA's help.Venus and Serena? Again it happened and it was
mainly desperate bandwagon hopping trying to take credit for their
success.

skanky~skanketta
Feb 8th, 2004, 07:18 AM
WTA's bad marketing? I've just got 2 words...KIMIKO DATE.


Paradorn is being plugged as Asia's greatest tennis player. Kimiko's
career is by far superior to his, and considering the economic clout
Japan has in the world- the USA dominated WTA agenda really gave
her nothing. Hardly featured on ESPN wta matches...rarely shown in
grand slams; but the scores were given. :haha:

I guess it's nothing new because the WTA has always been White American
in marketing and player promotion choices. Anna? She happened w/out
the WTA's help.Venus and Serena? Again it happened and it was
mainly desperate bandwagon hopping trying to take credit for their
success.

:worship: :worship: :worship:

i'm REALLY sick and tired of shrimp getting so much media attention. "i represent asia" MY FOOT!u represent thailand, thats enough.

Leo_DFP
Feb 9th, 2004, 02:23 AM
Virtually all sports suffer from injuries to top players. At least in the USA, that deosn't hurt football, or basketball or baseball or hockey. That doesn't impact popularity for them. There's a lot more to the popularity of a sport than who's on the field in a given match. In most sports, comparing players from different eras is part of the tradition. Part of what makes sports is history.
But most of the popular sports in the U.S. are team sports, so that's why their popularity is not diminished when a few players get injured. Most fans of baseball, football, and basketball are fans of the entire team, not a specific individual. So if one or two players on a team get injured, its okay for the fans because they have the rest of the team to cheer for in their absense; not the case in individual sports like tennis.

IMO, there wasn't anything wrong with OZ (other than Venus not winning). A couple of surprise semi-finalists, true. But how often have we heard complaints about how top-heavy the women's tour is? On the men's side, seeing two players seeded that low make the semis is called 'depth'.
What else would it be called?

I'm not saying the Australian Open was bad because of a couple unseeded semifinalists; actually, that was a nice surprise. But the quality was very low, especially compared to the men's. Most of the matche4s, including the hyped Davenport/Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters/Myskina clashes were utter flops. This generally happens at Slams; the men produce better tennis than the women, even with greater depth.

Fingon
Feb 9th, 2004, 05:22 AM
I wouldn't be so quick to say women's tennis is a very minor sport compared to others.

The popularity of sports is a relative concept, unless you are talking about an specific country

In your examples Volcana, you mention boxing, boxing is not popular, it used to be but it isn't anymore, I can't even say who the heavyweight champion is, it's rarely on TV.

Baseball is hugely popular in the US, and in Canada, but not in many other places, in Europe they couldn't care less about it.

american footbal the same (it isn't even popular in Canada)

Soccer is huge in Europe and South America, but not so in North America.

Cricket is popular in England, India, Pakistan and other members of the commonwealth, that's about it.

I also don't think the problem is women's tennis, it's just tennis, and the problem lays on the characteristics of the sport, that make it unatractive for TV networks.

First, you don't know how long a tennis match is gonna last, that is bad for advertising, it's bad for scheduling.

Second, being an individual sport, if both players are in a bad day you get a bad match, if both players are bad players, you get a bad match, and more important, if both players are not stars, you get a match between two nobodies that nobody cares about.

In soccer (football) you have 22 players in the field, it's very unlikely that all of them will have a bad day, and (with top teams) you always get to see a star. The big teams draw big crowds, the small teams not so much.

Tennis is not a sport of passions, passions draw crowds, passions sell. It's common in sports such as soccer, basketball or baseball that people identify with a team, often because it represents the city/state/province/country where they live, the same doesn't happen with tennis players. True, in Belgium there is a big thing with Kim and Justine and tennis is popular there. Tennis was popular in Germany when Steffi Graf and Boris Becker were playing (and winning) not so much now, get the pattern?

People that don't follow tennis regularly and that don't understand the sport often get bored unless the match is really special, why? there is too much dead time, the changeovers, the time between serves, tennis doesn't have the dynamics of basketball or soccer. I personally find baseball and football very boring, especially because there are many interruptions, long periods when nothing happens. Since I don't have the passion for those game, and I don't understand them (nor I want to), I simply have no interest at all and don't watch them. The same thing happen to many people in relation to tennis, but without the huge advertising machine behind.

Players that have been very popular have been either controversial (like Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Agassi in the early years, or Martina Hingis), different (the Williams, Navratilova) or very attractive and well advertised (Anna Kournikova), I can't think of any player that was popular simply because he/she was a good player, and don't tell me Steffi Graf, she was very popular in Germany and among tennis fans but ditn't really sell the sport to non-tennis fans.

That's why they have to use stars, they have to use controversy, they have to sell sex, because the sport itself lacks the ingredients to make it likable for the masses.

A more interesting comparisson would be golf, golf has the same problems as tennis, and it's very slow, but it's more popular, why?

IMO it's because of a very intelligent marketing. First of all, people that play golf has money to spend, so the advertisements are effective (the same could be said about tennis but neither the ATP, nor the WTA know how to exploit that). For the same reason golf get advertisers and they can pay for TV broadcast. Golf is also a social sport, it doesn't matter if you don't play well, it's important to play, it gives you status, and if you watch a golf tournament, or assist to a golf tournament, you are trendy, you are respected. Golf organizers have been able to identify their strenghts and bank on them, something the WTA and the ATP should learn.

they need to use their imagination, for example, they could try to imposse the use to drink something after a match, for example Coke, maybe using popular players like Serena or even Martina, or Agassi. Make people that play tennis get used to drink Coke after a match and then, Coke will be more than happy to pay for ads. The world of tennis is too narrowminded, and that includes not only the WTA and ATP but also the equipment manufacturers, such as Wilson, Head, etc., they seem happy with their current sales and are not interested in increasing the size of their markets, then need to look somewhere else.

PreOp
Feb 9th, 2004, 03:21 PM
Women's Tennis is a minor sport only when compared with male team sports. Applying the same criteria Men's Tennis is also a minor sport.

And golf? Golf is a great game, but a sport no.

However Women's Tennis in its current state is dysfunctional in a way that men's tennis is not. Both despite and because of this I find Women's Tennis fun to watch.

The keys to a healthy sport are great rivalries.

Men's Tennis has had a continuity of great rivalries, culminating most recently in that between Sampras and Agassi. A great tennis rivalry has to be between players who respect each other and the game. For example the consensus is that McEnroe had a great rivalry with Borg. When they played McEnroe's abominable antics were nowhere to be seen or heard. The consensus is silent regarding the rivalry between McEnroe and Lendl. They detested each other. Enough said. And today, can you believe it Federer and Safin actually like each other. No gamesmanship there. Of the top players only Roddick and Hewitt had, and this now is apparently in the past, practiced gamesmanship.

In Men's tennis respect for the traditions of the sport and past players is the rule.

As for the Women, Navratilova and Evert had a great rivalry. Woman's Tennis then continued on a par with the Men's in respect for the game and the player past and present.

And then came Graf. She was challenged, and overtaken by Seles. So far so good. There was the making of a great rivalry. This rivalry was cut short when Seles was stabbed by an obsessive fan of Graf's. So began the dysfunction. I have a gut feeling that Graf, great athlete that she was, would in time have picked up her game, and more than held her own. The Seles who returned after the attack was a much better person, but her game suffered.

And with the decline of Graf and the ascendancy of Hingis Woman's Tennis drifted further into dysfunction propelled by the way Hingis disrespected and dismissed among others both Graf, and the great Novotna.

And today there are no rivalries among the top players.

Henin and Clijsters, despite both struggling to say the right thing, not only have no respect for other, they detest each other. I defy anyone to detect a rivalry there, anything that gives a lift to the sport.

Listen to the Williams sisters. They say: "Other players don't concern us, we just play our game. " Venus: "My only rival is Serena" Serena: "I look up to Venus. Whatever I've achieved is due to Venus". (These quotes are paraphrases). There is no rivalry. When Venus had beat Serena Venus was distressed, and Serena was devastated. When Serena beats Venus Serena is subdued but happy, and Venus doesn't feel all that bad. This is not to say the matches are fixed. Venus hates to lose period, and competes as best she can, but nevertheless feels fine that Serena has a win. Venus knows that a win for Serena is a win for Team Williams. If anyone doubts that there is such a thing as Team Williams explain what Venus meant when she said in her post match conference following her loss to her sister at last years Wimbledon, while suffering from the terrible abdominal strain, "...I felt [I had] to take one for the team."

*JR*
Feb 9th, 2004, 04:44 PM
Good points, Fingon. Look @ the prime sponsors after they (belatedly) stopped whoring out to Philip Morris (BJK's Virginia Slims Tour).

Corel? Duh, best known for Corel Draw software, which belongs in the trade magazines computer geeks (like you :p) and graphic artists read.

Sanex? Zero American distribution (ironic as Sara Lee owns the brand). Porsche? (Priced to sell to WHAT percent of car buyers)? The CEO's Are A revolving door, the Stupidity Stays the same. :rolleyes:

alfajeffster
Feb 9th, 2004, 05:16 PM
also the woman has completely flipped, her opinions are so far from being pc, it's an embarrasment to publicise her. sorry to any court fans, great champ and everything, but she's a wacko.
This is the difference between a fan of a player, and a supporter of the game of tennis, and its perpetuation. I had the great fortune to be able to visit the Tennis Museum at Roland Garros a few weeks ago, and spent priceless moments sitting and viewing a rather long interview of Margaret Court from their archives. She spoke about tennis, women's athletics, and her experiences coming up the tennis ranks in Australia, which in the late 50s was a man's world- NOT her personal religious beliefs. She is now an ordained minister, but you don't catch her preaching from a pulpit during a French Open Women's Singles trophy presentation. I don't need to know about her personal life, and in fact, there are supporters of tennis who dig for the statistics and archived materials on past champions that are available to anyone who cares. The sport of tennis transcends any individual record, and a great female athlete moving across a tennis court is as good as it gets- simply ain't nothing more beautiful!

TonyP
Feb 9th, 2004, 07:22 PM
Tennis is headquartered, almost centered in America and America is the land of the young. The media markets to the young, primarily the 14-25 year old age group.

Sorry to say in America, this group is not exactly the best educated or best informed group of people on the planet. Americans in general pay little attention to history. American kids pay even less. To them, ancient history is anything that happened before the advent of MTV or hip-hop music.

So why would you expect there to be reverense for "old time" tennis players?

Actually, though, the people who run the sport itself and the major tennis jjournalists do seem to come down on the side of the "oldsters" and often treat the newbies as interlopers. I remember back in '97 when Hingis almost couldn't lose, some commentators were saying she wasn't beating Graf or the pre-stabbing Seles. Well, of course, nobody picks their opponents in tennis, you play whoever comes up in the draw.

Hingis didn't play Graf that year because they never met in the draw. And Seles' condition or level of play was what it was and had nothing to do with her friend, Martina Hingis.

But in general,its poorly educated "kids" who are calling the shots, and they don't cherish "old time" tennis players, or old time movie stars or political figures. In fact, they don't much like history in general, so why would they like old tennis players?

But now that I think about the premise of this thread, you can even apply it within this era. Williams fans want to dismiss the Hingis victories over their girls in the mid and late ninties, acting as if nothing counts except the Williams sister victories from 2000 on. So that's dismissing people within the very same generation.

Jem
Feb 9th, 2004, 07:45 PM
Women's tennis may be a minor sport to some people, but it's the best sport women have going for them and has been that way for a long time. In the United States at least, the big sports are football, basketball and baseball, and everything else is pretty much minor, I suppose. Worldwide, soccer is huge. Maybe your argument really is that in the world of sports, all women sports are minor, which is a sad commentary indeed.

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2004, 11:28 PM
Women's Tennis is a minor sport only when compared with male team sports. Applying the same criteria Men's Tennis is also a minor sport.
Yes. But not AS minor.

Volcana
Feb 9th, 2004, 11:34 PM
While I agree with many of your points, I disagree with a couple. The only final Venus lost to Serena where VEnus looked even vaguely happy was RG, since that was Serena's 2nd GS win after a long drought. From what I've seen, and from what their mother says, Venus has had quite a bit of trouble handling her sister's ascendency.

"...I felt [I had] to take one for the team."
SHe was referring to playing the final, when she was injured. As Venus has often said, she dosn't like to play hurt, she wasn't brought up to play when she's injured and she doesn't believe in it. Normally. But she felt she COULD NOT default a Wimbledon final.

Pamela Shriver
Feb 10th, 2004, 12:18 AM
Why women's tennis is a minor sport
Easy, coz I've retired. My status rose the game to giraffic levels.

PreOp
Feb 10th, 2004, 08:55 PM
While I agree with many of your points, I disagree with a couple. The only final Venus lost to Serena where VEnus looked even vaguely happy was RG, since that was Serena's 2nd GS win after a long drought. From what I've seen, and from what their mother says, Venus has had quite a bit of trouble handling her sister's ascendency.


SHe was referring to playing the final, when she was injured. As Venus has often said, she dosn't like to play hurt, she wasn't brought up to play when she's injured and she doesn't believe in it. Normally. But she felt she COULD NOT default a Wimbledon final.

Volcana ?

Agreed, Venus, excepting RG, does not look happy after a loss to Serena. The happiness I refer to runs deeper than the eye can see. A mirage perhaps.

Agreed, Venus has made it abundantly clear that she will play out, injury or no injury, a grand slam event if at all possible. Nevertheless stating that she took one for the team means not less than that, but something more. Call it what you will.

Among the ladies Venus is by far my favorite player. The game I favor the most is that played by Henin. If Henin only would cease to conduct herself to the detriment of game I would cheer her on against anyone.