Is There a Civil War in Tennis?

Like the title of the blog says this is allsportsdiscussion.com, so if you have a sport you want to discuss we are ready. We have this new submission from Imogen Reed. Interesting read abouth the state of pro tennis. I had no idea the pay scales had become so warped.

Pay disputes are pandemic in sport

The disputes over pay structures in sport seems to have become pandemic, as the disparities between the top echelons of the game, whether it be NBA, PGA or as far afield as the United Kingdom’s Soccer Premier League the players at the top end of the game seem to be pulling ever further away from their closest rivals in the financial rewards for success. The tensions in sport all over the globe are a clear reflection of the wider problems faced by society in general. In the first place; money is tight, in the second place the rich are getting richer and the rest of us remain as we are. If the situation continues then tennis may be heading for the kind of shock an addict experiences when they first arrive at drug abuse treatment program.

Many questions are being asked

Sport is about competition, right? And it is the correct thing to do the reward the winner, right? But the question that has arisen in recent weeks in tennis is to what extent should the funding exist only for the winners at the expense of the other competitors? OK the guys who lose, or who prop up the competition and never really hit the dizzy heights of the closing rounds do not deserve the same rewards as those whose ability and expertise helps them to succeed. But the argument that is being made, and not just by the players on the bottom rungs, is that these guys (and ladies) are performing a vital part of the competition. They entertain the crowds, they attract their own (often small but nonetheless crucial) following. Without them the top players would have no competition, but in the most recent round of pay franchises their contribution has been marginalised even further and the ugly concept of a players strike is moving more distinctly into possibility.

ATP Locker rooms fraught with tension

It has been recently reported that the ATP locker rooms have been even more fraught with tension than ever before owing to the way in which financial rewards and dividends are meted out to the players. The recent Indian Wells tournament serves as an illustrative example of what is going on in the sport. Owner, Larry Ellison, made the executive decision to improve the winners take to $1,000,000, perhaps as good headline grabbing figure. This represented a 64% leap from the previous $611,000, a figure which is greatly at odds with the current trends in pay structures in the world at large. (unless you are a banker).

At the bottom of the scale

On the other end of the scale at the Indian Wells tournament the rest of the players were given the remainder of the additional cash, just $700,000, to be divided up pro rata amongst them collectively. This equated to an increase of just $594 for the first round losers. This amount was just a 7% increase, a comparatively negligible amount, and one which has ignited a fairly furious debate amongst the players at that contest, and by those observing the sport from outside. USA today correspondent, Doug Robson, has recently highlighted this piece in a warts-and-all expose of the controversy that is raging with the sport and in particular at what is happening at the top end of the men’s game.

Andy Roddick defines the situation

As someone who is no stranger to speaking his mind Andy Roddick has defined the situation (and given me a catchy title for this piece) with his statement. “It’s like a Civil War going on inside of the sport,” summing up the situation by adding,  “I don’t know that it’s ever gonna work unless people put the best interests of the game ahead of the best interests of themselves. We don’t have a history of doing that in tennis.”

The major problem is at the top of the game. There are four big hitters in tennis who have got what can only be considered a stranglehold on the major prize money. Of those four just three have managed to shut out all the other contenders from the big money prizes in the grand slams over the past 10 years. Not even in the Sampras Agassi era has there been such a glut at the top of the game. And unless a few of the rank and file can start to upset the major axis at the top, the separation between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is going to continue to escalate.

1 comment

  1. gordon says:

    Incorrect statement :”…. Of those four just three have managed to shut out all the other contenders from the big money prizes in the grand slams over the past 10 years.”
    In 2003, Aggassi, Ferrero and Roddick were able to get GS title
    In 2004 Gaudio won Roland Garros
    In 2005 Safin receives the AUS title
    In 2009 DElPotro had US Open, so only in last three years top three players were having exclusive right to the GS title!

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