In a recent statement, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that they would be reducing the number of professional tennis players from 14,000 to 1,500. What does this mean for tennis? Well, nothing for us tennis fans. But for the depth of the sport and the lives of 12,500 tennis players? A lot.
The ITF just completed a three-year study into the health of the game. Its findings were unsurprising, but its proposed solutions seem drastic. They established that there were simply too many professional tennis players competing for not nearly enough money. They found that only a tiny percentage of the 14,000 professional players were breaking even. In fact, it is so bad that more than half of the professional players do not earn any prize money. Also, there has been an interesting, if not negative, trend showing that the average age of professional tennis players is increasing. For an international sport that is incredibly top-heavy, the ITF suggests that serious changes need to be made.
Based on the data they uncovered, they are recommending the number of professional players be reduced to “no more than 750 men and 750 women.” This would have little to no effect on professional tennis as the fans know it. However, it will make it much more difficult for players to ascend to the professional ranks that tens of thousands of young players aspire to reach all over the world.
In order to combat that, the ITF poses a new “Transition Tour” that would operate on a much more local level than existing Futures tours. The idea of the Transition Tour would be to ease the transition from junior to professional tennis. It will also provide aspiring professional players a more realistic view of whether they have a chance to make it or not.
What Does This Mean For Tennis
All of these changes will ensure that professional players can make a living. While it may sound elementary, this is not an issue that most other professional sports have. If a player makes it to the highest level of soccer, football, hockey, basketball, or nearly any other sport, they are making a very comfortable living. Not so in tennis.
That’s why this is what tennis needs. At first it seems drastic, but in reality, it’s out of necessity. Tennis has always been a remarkably difficult sport to turn professional in. It will be even more so when the number of pros is so drastically cut down. But the pros ranked beyond 750 are struggling below the poverty line, and always relying on income from other people. Take the NBA for example. There are only 301 players in the NBA playing at the highest level. With the changes, tennis will still have more than double that.
Tennis will be ok, in fact, it will be even healthier than ever before. Do you agree?
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4 thoughts on “Nearly 13,000 Pro Tennis Players Are Losing Their Jobs”
I think this is a stupid idea. I understand why they are doing this but, the organization will lose thousands of dollars from the memberships of Ipin. Companies will not sponsor or fund these “transition tour events.” In addition, what if a former top player like Juan Martin Del Potro, gets injured severely again? He wouldn’t play challengers or transition tour events. I think the ITF organization should rescind this idea and try to come up with a new one that does not eliminate the memberships of the current players.
I disagree. If I’m a professional tennis player it’s no one’s business but mine if I’m making enough income to sustain myself. If I’m unhappy it’s up to me to change professions not for someone else to tell me what I can and can’t do.
The way tennis is taught today makes it almost impossible to watch. Serve as hard as you can and hit the ball as hard as you can is not enjoyable to watch or play. There is NO finesse or strategy involved. First strike tennis will destroy the enjoyment of watching no matter how many are in the 750, or the 14,000.
Federer is so popular because he can exicute more than one shot, enjoyable to watch.
USTA, also destroys incentive, by jerking people around, moving them to levels they don’t want to play, when they are PAYING to play.
Thank goodness for sponsors, and they change frequently.
Is it really necessary for an already rich tennis player to win $3 million for one tournament? It’s obscene. Even a small fraction of that amount is more than an average person makes in an entire year. Why not make more money available to a lot more players in a lot more tournaments? It would allow many more pro players to earn a living and would allow many more fans to see pro tennis in more venues closer to home. The top players will still make plenty in prize money, not to mention million$ from endorsements.