I think HKz and whattheheck have missed the point. As a sport, tennis is not expensive. To get really good at it...it is. All the other sports mentioned with the exception of basketball (which can be played and enjoyed one-on-one), require a field of play and a host of other like-minded players. The only reason those sports (let's stick with the Big Three here in the States...football, basketball, baseball) don't have "academies" for the youngsters is because our school system (middle & high schools and especially colleges) do/provide all that for the athletes. Baseball gets a bit of free pass on that argument since its Minor Leagues are funded by the professional teams they feed. But the top athletes in those fields are funneled in a system that, quite frankly, uses them (for the benefit of alumni and ticket holders). If you look at the numbers of "kids" who play those sports as kids, but who don't play them as "adults," I think the numbers/ratios would be staggering.
Tennis is also very much a lifetime sport; one that can be played from 8 to 80 (and beyond). Try finding another sport (other than golf, and I'll posit that it's actually a competition) where you routinely find even retirees actively and with pleasure pursing their fun/hobby/sport. So if you want to get into a cost-benefit ratio, you'd be hard pressed to find a better "value" than tennis.
Yes, tennis is a lifetime sport like golf. I mean once you hit that age of where running a few steps burns you out, doubles is the new thing to do. And yes, the ratio of those other sports where they played as a kid but never as adults would probably be staggering, but I doubt any of them were TRULY serious about trying to pursue it in any way.
Even if we were talking about non-competition sports, where we just go out and play for fun, tennis is still relatively on the expensive side compared to baseball, basketball, football, soccer, etc. Like I said, you need the strings, rackets, tennis balls, a partner with those things and a solid tennis court actually with a net. There are so many factors involving with this unlike basketball, football, or soccer. You just need one ball, 2 people and one hoop for basketball, one ball and 2 people for playing catch football. I mean I can go on and on about how little you need for the other sports. The truth is tennis doesn't have a "just fun" option like basketball does where you can just practice on your dribble and fakes, or football/baseball where you can just play catch. When you want to play tennis, you need the WHOLE thing to play tennis. You can't play "half-court" tennis, you can't play without balls, you can't play with a court with many cracks, you can't really play enjoyable tennis when the net is broken or nonevident, you can't play for very long with broken strings and you can't really play tennis without a partner. Because hey, I am OBSESSED with tennis and back when I was competiting on the USTA junior circuit and such, I used to get up 5 AM in the morning and serve by myself for a couple hours before school starts because I luckily had a tennis court in my backyard thanks to my parents' money
. But that can only go for so long. Oh not to mention how difficult it is to find a tennis court. I mean I live next to my university where I attend and by the time I get to the nearest tennis courts, I surpass 4 baseball fields, 3 football/soccer fields and a load of basketball courts. This also translates to money because I know that back in my hometown, many people had to drive a couple miles to get to a court, which is essentially money because of the gas.
I kind of see the point you are making, but it kind of seems like you are contradicting yourself?
Even when the school is providing many things such as setting up school matches (instead of having to pay 80 bucks to enter in a USTA tournament) and having courts and tennis balls for the players, the rackets still have to be personally provided (unless you want to 10 dollar rackets they have) and stringing is again at your cost. But again, nearly no one gets recognized for their school talent, unless they went like 40-0 in sets or never lose a single game. You have to take that extra step, money and time to pay for a USTA membership and then pay hundreds of dollars during just the 4 years of high school entering in tournaments. This is totally unlike football, basketball, or baseball where people are looking directly at the schools for stand out players and results.
I don't know. In my opinion, any way you look at it, tennis is an expensive sport whether it is "just for fun" or for pursuit of becoming a top college player or in the end, a pro.