Like millions of New Yorkers, I like to read the newspaper on the way to work while riding the subway.
This morning, I saw something in the sports section that shocked me, confused me, disgusted me, intrigued me—nearly every verb you can think of but make me happy: A 30-inch story on the U.S. archery team deciding to stand by its embattled coach. The coach, Kisik Lee, is under fire for the team not winning a medal in Beijing and his controversial takes on training and his religious stances.
Now what does this have to do with tennis, you might ask? Absolutely everything.
You see, throughout the rest of the sports section, there was no mention of tennis anywhere: Not in the box score, not in the sports briefs, nowhere. Now, I know the regular season is over, but this is the week leading up to the Davis Cup finals, which despite the absence of the world's top-ranked player, Rafael Nadal, features two tennis powerhouses in Argentina and Spain. But if you were to look through your local newspaper or watch "SportsCenter," you'd have no idea this was about to go down.
But beyond this being a Davis Cup week, this goes on probably 85 to 90 percent of the year: minimal coverage, at best, of the sport we all know and love—at least here in the U.S. And I have some questions about that: Why is that the case and how can it change?
I guess tennis will always take a backseat to the major sports in the U.S., but to Mixed Martial Arts, and as anonymous mentions in the comments section, NASCAR? Does it have to be that way? The skill and athleticism required to play pro tennis is off the charts: Speed, eye-hand coordination, strength, touch—you name it, you have to be the best at all of that to enjoy some success.
Is it because there aren't any U.S. players making headlines with their off-court and on-court antics? How many times have you heard older people say they liked tennis in the 1970s back when Connors and McEnroe played? Well, here's something for those that say that: Those guys acted like buffoons at times! Is that really how you want an athlete to behave? Give me a James Blake or a Roger Federer, or even a Radek Stepanek, anyday: Guys that can either keep it cool, get fired up or get the crowd involved.
But back to my other question: How can the lack of coverage change? I work in the media now, but I'm not among the lead decision makers. I guess it's up to the fans. It's sad that it has to come to this, but maybe we should attack it from a grass-roots approach:
• Write someone if the lack of coverage bugs you.
• Turn elsewhere for your tennis jones, like blogs. Want the latest on the off-court activities of the pros? Read Down the Line! Want to get in-depth coverage on black tennis players? Read Black Tennis Pros. Want to gain an international perspective of the sport? Check out HCFoo's Blogyard, Tennis is Served..., Tennis From Beyond the Baseline, Topspin Tennis Blog. Check out GoToTennis. Want an irreverent look at the game? See Tennis With Attitude (the name says it all!) Just glance to the left of this posting and click on the blog roll or any of the listed sites.
• Talk about it. Spread the word and let people know why you love the sport so much.
That's all I have for now. I was determined to write something as long as that archery story I read this morning! If you like what you read here, feel free to spread it around. We have to start somewhere.
6 months ago