The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe - MensTennisForums.com

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post #1 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

As I was watching the coverage of the US Open Series the past few weeks, I've wondered why this game is not as popular in this country as it is in the rest of the world.

I believe it has more to do with the image of the game than anything. The big sports in the USA, American Football, Basketball, Baseball, they are all blue collar sports.

When the average American is flipping through the channels and lands on ESPN2 showing tennis, maybe he/she is intrigued. A long rally, full of athletic gets and a crushing over head to finish the point might get a hook.

But, the average American will also notice the air of elitism that unfortunately still permeates the tennis world. The top 2 players in the world competing in pink shirts (which I have no problem with, but imagine what Joe Schmoe's opinion on Federer's outfit this week was), endless commercials for Franklin Templeton Investment Company, Emirates Airlines, it all seems that the game is catered to specific, more elite members of the social caste system.

Americans love underdog stories. We love relating with athletes, and really, anything we see on TV. I just feel that when watching a tennis match, it just doesn't appeal to the average American and thus is not as popular in this country. I think if the game was marketed differently, it could be huge, as could soccer here, but no one seems to want to put in the time and effort to do so, and the ones that do, fuck it up.

Is it this way in the rest of the world as well?

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post #2 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 11:41 PM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

Americans like beer, drugs, wrestling and Nascar, what do you expect?
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post #3 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 11:42 PM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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Americans like beer, drugs, wrestling and Nascar, what do you expect?
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post #4 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 11:46 PM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

Good post

It certainly does seem like that could be a factor...I know a few people who don't care about tennis and they see stuff at Wimbledon, with the all-white rule and Federer walking out with a full blazer, donned with other bags, and they just find it stupid. I can't say I'm a big fan of the added accessories that we see Roger or Serena bring out, but I'm cool with the all-white stuff. I don't really think it's the biggest factor because golf is somewhat grouped in the same "echelon" of sports, as something for the rich...and sometimes I think golf is a lot more popular here than tennis.

I think energy seems to coincide a little with that too...here in the US most people like the fast-paced sports with raucous crowds and crazy energy. My best friends seem to have this perception that a tennis match should last about 40 minutes at the longest, and couldn't imagine sitting through a 4 or 5 hour match.

Who knows though, it's an interesting dynamic and I wish the sport was more popular/respected here. I can't understand the fascination for NASCAR here, and while I like baseball at times, sometimes I don't completely understand why that's a popular sport here (other than tradition) because it doesn't fit into the mold of American football or baseball
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post #5 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 01:42 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

america couldnt even beat china in the olympics.
american sports power is on the decline.

tennis went down when sampras retired and roddick didnt take the mantle.
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post #6 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 01:53 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

Golf has the same elite country club air yet it is does not have these kind of problems in the US. The difference? Golf has (had?) an American dominating, tennis hasn't had that for many years.

I think there are other problems as well due to logistics regarding broadcasting. Tennis touraments chew up a lot of air time, especially if they are to be covered in their entirety.
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post #7 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 07:00 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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post #8 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 07:34 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

Americans love when Americans win... Americans suck at tennis at the moment that's why it's not popular, if Tiger Woods was Thai, golf would also be meaningless in the US of A...
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post #9 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 07:48 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

The main reasons imo are coverage and promotion. Coverage is awful, as everyone on this board knows, and promotion is crap too. Promote the personalities, promote the rivalries, give what seems to be a convoluted tour schedule and ranking system some sense. Almost every american plays tennis casually, and tournaments in the U.S. probably get the fullest audiences overall. There's no fundamental reason tennis shouldn't be popular, the blame lies solely with the ATP and the joke they are.

Some successful examples of obscure sports that did everything right and became big are: UFC, X Games, WWF (about 10 years ago), Soccer (possibly).
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post #10 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 07:52 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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tournaments in the U.S. probably get the fullest audiences overall.
That is not what comes through on TV, even Top Ten playes (not named Federer, Nadal and maybe Djokovic) playing in gigantic stadiums in front of empty stands in the early stages of the tournamants.

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post #11 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 08:03 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

Tennis is all very civilised and non-contact. You only play in the warmer months when it's dry and never see a speck of dirt (except clay courts - which many casual fans don't even know exist!). You even get to have a rest every few seconds (between points) and even more every few minutes. When you sweat you've got guys handing you towels and you are free to use the bathroom. In cricket (and other team sports) slander is a way of life, in tennis you get a fine.

I'm sorry, but due to these reasons, tennis is never going to appeal to blue collar men in the same way as the sports you mention. Another problem is the fact it's primarily an individual sport. I find men love supporting a team and they will stick with that team for life. In tennis, you've got to change who you support when your player retires. Also, in most sports you get guaranteed matches, home and away, and 'grudge matches' every season. In tennis, there's always a chance your player will go out the in the first round. Team supporters also love the fact that guys are working together to achieve a common goal. Plus there's the merchandise, people love to support there team with jerseys, scarves etc, yes you can do the same with tennis, but there's no team colours and mascots.

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post #12 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 08:09 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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That is not what comes through on TV, even Top Ten playes (not named Federer, Nadal and maybe Djokovic) playing in gigantic stadiums in front of empty stands in the early stages of the tournamants.
Sometimes but tournaments like Washington DC get great crowds (where I'm from) even though it's a 500 and probably no one knew who Del Potro was last year or how big a deal Nalbandian winning was. Toronto had nice crowds, and you almost never see abandoned stadiums like in Hamburg, Shangai, Belgrade, even FO sometimes. Maybe we know how to build stadiums the right size for an expected audience, but Davis cup got a better crowd here than it did in Croatia where there were overt political implications to the match.
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post #13 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 08:16 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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Toronto had nice crowds....
Yep for the final. I have seen many matches from Monday to Thursday being played in front of virtually nobody...

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post #14 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 08:17 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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Tennis is all very civilised and non-contact. You only play in the warmer months when it's dry and never see a speck of dirt (except clay courts - which many casual fans don't even know exist!). You even get to have a rest every few seconds (between points) and even more every few minutes. When you sweat you've got guys handing you towels and you are free to use the bathroom. In cricket (and other team sports) slander is a way of life, in tennis you get a fine.

I'm sorry, but due to these reasons, tennis is never going to appeal to blue collar men in the same way as the sports you mention. Another problem is the fact it's primarily an individual sport. I find men love supporting a team and they will stick with that team for life. In tennis, you've got to change who you support when your player retires. Also, in most sports you get guaranteed matches, home and away, and 'grudge matches' every season. In tennis, there's always a chance your player will go out the in the first round. Team supporters also love the fact that guys are working together to achieve a common goal. Plus there's the merchandise, people love to support there team with jerseys, scarves etc, yes you can do the same with tennis, but there's no team colours and mascots.
I always make fun of Brad Gilbert for wanting to turn the ATP into the WWE, but looking at wrestling is a good example of what could work for tennis. Mean, vicious rivalries are the most popular thing in sports, thats why everyone remembers Borg/McEnroe and McEnroe/Connors in the U.S. even if they weren't alive at the time. As long as the players are in on the joke, talking shit about each other and hyping up rivalries in more personal ways would do wonders for Tennis Also players should be required to wear a specific outfit or have some outfit quirk so people can support them. RF hats are a good idea, and I like Rafa's shoes, but that's only a start.

Basically we have to take the strengths of tennis, which are individual personalities, intense rivalries, and a fun to watch, easy to advertise with, extremely athletic sport, and cut out the weaknesses. Nationalism will never be as strong as regionalism, that's why no one cares about basketball or baseball in the olympics, promoting players as people rather than representatives of an area is the way to go.
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post #15 of 77 (permalink) Old 08-16-2010, 08:31 AM
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Re: The image of tennis in the USA vs. the rest of the globe

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Tennis is all very civilised and non-contact. You only play in the warmer months when it's dry and never see a speck of dirt (except clay courts - which many casual fans don't even know exist!). You even get to have a rest every few seconds (between points) and even more every few minutes. When you sweat you've got guys handing you towels and you are free to use the bathroom. In cricket (and other team sports) slander is a way of life, in tennis you get a fine.

I'm sorry, but due to these reasons, tennis is never going to appeal to blue collar men in the same way as the sports you mention. Another problem is the fact it's primarily an individual sport. I find men love supporting a team and they will stick with that team for life. In tennis, you've got to change who you support when your player retires. Also, in most sports you get guaranteed matches, home and away, and 'grudge matches' every season. In tennis, there's always a chance your player will go out the in the first round. Team supporters also love the fact that guys are working together to achieve a common goal. Plus there's the merchandise, people love to support there team with jerseys, scarves etc, yes you can do the same with tennis, but there's no team colours and mascots.
Statracket,

Have you ever put together statistics comparing domination of the sport by one or two individuals over a decade or half-decade? I would be interested to see the 70's vs. the 80's vs. the 90's vs. the 00's.

It seems to me the sport was much more popular worldwide when an Edberg, Rafter, Wilander or Becker (or even a Jim Courier and Michael Chang for Americans) would pop up every once in awhile and there would be some new stories and drama and intrigue instead of the same old same old. It is interesting from a statistical point of view to add up 16 slams versus 8, but from an intrigue and story perspective it is just stifling that 20 of the past 22 slams have won by 2 players. And this era of dominance by the few over the many has not just become common in tennis either. It is oppressive and not much fun to follow as a fan of competition.

A "dynasty" should be fascinating because it rarely happens, not because it is the norm. I think the power of those at the top to remain on top has become stifling in many sports; a good example would be Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France 7 straight years from 1999-2005. I found the TdF just unwatchable during that stretch of time. If Contador proceeds to win the next 5 TdFs, and the only drama is whether he can top Lance's 7 wins, I'll become just as bored with that sporting event.

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