View Full Version : Why is tennis Not a "Popular" Sport?

05-17-2004, 07:06 PM
I love the game of tennis and I cant seem to figure out why tennis can not be as popular as baseball,basketball, football, golf, soccer.

05-17-2004, 07:14 PM
I used to play basketball... football... golf... soccer and baseball... After tennis got into my life... I was like you I love the game now... I own about 3 racquets ... a case of balls... who heck of strings a stringer etc... its like my life now... I havent touch a bat, golf club, basketball.. football or soccer ball for about 2 years since I picked the tennis racquet up... I dont know why people dont like it...

05-17-2004, 07:24 PM
it's a girly sport. not for mucho men. they make fun of us. because we hit tennis balls.

05-17-2004, 08:12 PM
much of the lack of popularity IMO is because tennis isnt easy to become good at. here in the States we have become an instant gratification society..we want lots of something and we want it NOW! having said that, how do you explain the popularity of golf? that isnt easy to get good at either.....NEVERMIND! LOL. anyway, how about americans have gotten fat and lazy and say things like 'what do you mean i am suppose to run for the ball?' ;) ed

05-17-2004, 08:13 PM
takes technical skill and not just brute force to win...that makes it more challenging than most other sports. It actually is a very very popular sport, I don't know the stats off the top of my head, but the amount of players in comparison to other sports is amazing.

05-17-2004, 08:28 PM
prob is there may be alot of players but the biggest majority of them play like once a year. i go by tennis ball sales and they seem to be declining and declining as time goes by. it isnt nearly as popular as it was in the 80's, at least not here in the States..maybe it is more popular in asia, europe, australia etc. if it was so popular i would think it would garner more attention on espn than poker and billiards do.ed

05-18-2004, 01:20 AM
What Ed said is right - it's a difficult sport to master. Add to this the fact that when people see today's pros play, and then head out to a court, the difference between them and the pros is greater than ever before. This can be mighty discouraging.

Also to be considered is the media factor. It is no secret that the media dictates the way North Americans live their lives. People wake up, turn on the radio or TV, and await instruction on how to proceed. Whatever is 'popular' is what people will do. Right now, tennis is not popular. The media is virtually ignoring tennis. It's not really considered a sport anymore - it's viewed as a mere recreational activity. If the media were to suddenly increase its coverage of tennis, there is no doubt that tennis participation would grow proportionally.

05-18-2004, 06:09 AM
People are usually more attracted to team sports. Team work, team spirit, camaraderie and all that jazz. I don't know about golf though. Peculiar game. Golfers too.

05-18-2004, 07:43 AM
I told you guys why tennis is not popular before....because of the tennis snobs. New players pick up on the tennis snob attitude, and they give up before they have a chance to get good.

Granted, it takes two people to get a rally going and they both have to be able to get the ball back and forth....but, even after a new player is able to keep the ball on the court, people STILL complain...."oh, he didn't hit the ball hard enough"...."oh, he just moonballed me"..."his returns were so weak, i couldn't do anything with them, but he was much worse than me".

Tennis players are annoying! you never hear that stuff about some guy who just wanted to join in on a basketball game or a baseball game.

05-18-2004, 08:55 AM
ace thats because you put 'yourself' more on the line when playing tennis than you do in a team sport. some people just dont do well under a little bit of pressure and it is human nature to blame everyone but yourself..tennis is a snapshot of life IMO. i am so happy i found tennis..it helps you in life. you seem to be hangin w. the wrong tennis crowd :)ed

Camilio Pascual
05-18-2004, 09:49 AM
A lot of people tell me they are afraid to be out there all by themselves when they play. You are highly visible, the mistakes you make are clearly yours, and you are exposing a lot of yourself physically, emotionally, & mentally to others. Psychologically, tennis is a very tough sport.

05-18-2004, 09:50 AM
I told you guys why tennis is not popular before....because of the tennis snobs. New players pick up on the tennis snob attitude, and they give up before they have a chance to get good.

Granted, it takes two people to get a rally going and they both have to be able to get the ball back and forth....but, even after a new player is able to keep the ball on the court, people STILL complain...."oh, he didn't hit the ball hard enough"...."oh, he just moonballed me"..."his returns were so weak, i couldn't do anything with them, but he was much worse than me".

Tennis players are annoying! you never hear that stuff about some guy who just wanted to join in on a basketball game or a baseball game.

Can't say I agree. You are talking about people making excuses, not being snobbish. I recently hit with a guy who complained I hit too hard. He was a sore loser, but I don't think he was a snob. In the same vain, if I were a pusher, and he complained my shots were too weak, I don't see why that would make him a snob.

Capt. Willie
05-18-2004, 11:20 AM
Tennis has a lot of problems and I don't even know where to begin....as mentioned above it is a difficult game to master at a reasonable level of play. You can't just pick up a racquet and go out there and expect to play competitively with others who have been playing awhile as most of the shots/strokes are far different from what one would learn from playing other sports. Unlike golf one must be in fairly decent physical condition to play...how many fat people do you see playing tennis as opposed to golf? Also, the rules and scoring are somewhat confusing to learn compared with other sports. But the biggest problem is the lack of media attention. Back when I first started playing in the 70s tennis was very popular. I can remember waiting over an hour for a court to become available at the local parks and high school which is something I haven't seen in 20 years now. Tennis in those days had "personalitys" like Conners, McEnroe, Nastase ect. who love them or hate them made the game much more exciting. Tennis back then could work on different levels also, kind of like going to an auto race to see a crash or a hockey game to see a fight...you never knew when these guys would explode. These antics created a buzz that got people watching and in turn got more people out on the local courts. Another problem (and I just know I will catch grief for this) is that the matches tend to be too long and boring for the average sports fan...and in turn the reason for poor tennis coverage on TV. The matches need to be speeded up. Two out of three sets for men rather than the best of five would fit much better into TV time frames and would better hold the general publics interest. Maybe even do away with deuces and service lets to speed up play and add drama.

05-18-2004, 11:33 AM
i think the capt makes a good point about 5 set matches being too long. but what is exciting about watching golf on tv which is very pastoral and zzzzzz? i like the idea of 5 sets but in a 4 game format and tiebreaker at 4 all. thinking at the club level where you are playing indoors in the north and it is expensive, you could play a best 2 of 3 4 game sets in an hour or 1.5 hours. now when they also reduce the headsize limit on the pro tour, the game will be more exciting and a tiger woods (federer) would emerge....ed

05-18-2004, 03:10 PM
People believe it is a "Posh Man's" sport basically, it's simply not cool to play tennis!

05-18-2004, 04:13 PM
Tennis is not a popular sport because only talented people (like the ones responding on this board) could master it. Or at least hope to master it! LOL

05-18-2004, 05:26 PM
A lot of other sports are in decline, especially at the pro level. Attendance is down in baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, even some NFL teams play before half empty stadiums. Golf may be the exception and darned if I know why. I am a recovering golfer and even when I played I couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch or play.

I do not know the status of tennis in the rest of the world, but I am of the opinion that in the U.S., the USTA must shoulder some of the responsibility for the decline in tennis, more in what they have failed to do. They have no sense of tennis at the local levels and many of the local USTA coordinators do not either. There is a trememdous amount of capital floating around the vaults of the USTA and other than the Open and a few half hearted attempts at advertising, I do not see anything happening.

There is lot wrong with tennis but there is much appeal to offer as well. I love the game, everything about it. My wife loves it. Most of our friends are tennis players. However, I have never taken the time to introduce a new player to the game. I usually avoid them. Maybe many of us do and it reasons that most of the time, they do not have pleasant early experiences and most leave quickly to avoid additional embarassment from being excluded. If tennis is to grow, it must come from beginners. I think nothing is being done to ensure the newbees stick with it and set examples and offer good testimony about their experiences. Maybe if everyone on this board made an attempt to teach the game to a beginner once a week for a few minutes, the decline in interest would begin to make a turn. Attrition will take of us quickly enough. If we want to leave a great game for the rest of world to enjoy, we might want to be the factory that makes future players.

Could it be that we are large part of the problem? I have seen as much exclusivity on public courts as in private clubs. I don't think race is an issue nor economic priviledge nor age or ability or gender. By all accounts, 95% of the posters on this board are 5.0 or above. Surely we have something to give back to the game and those that express interest. Someone took the time with us.

Naw, that couldn't the be problem.

05-18-2004, 06:04 PM
tennis-n-nc i have tried to start a non profit youth prog for tennis w. a twist for some while....non profits are mired in red tape and bureacracy and i didnt wish to lose control over what i felt to be a great idea by melding myself into another functioning non profit. so..it just became too consuming to launch it. clearly the responsibility lies foremost w. the usta and i agree they are mostly lame. i like the idea they have about the tennis centers that will introduce new players to the game for free, but where did they advertise it? during tennis tourneys and in tennis mags where non players arent..what sense does that make? respectfully disagree w. you that 95% of the players on this board are 5.0's or greater..i think the posters are all over the map skillsetwise and i bet some of them dont even play. tennis has always been an elitist sort of sport and the answer is to make it more humble and available to all and to get the kids playing ball..guess what? kids really dont play ball like they used to in large part. ed

Joe Average
05-18-2004, 09:29 PM
Well, I don't think I buy the "tennis is not popular because it's so difficult to master" argument. I do know that I see 60 year old women playing tennis and not soccer or basketball. As a recreational sport, tennis is popular. Perhaps not as popular as it was in the 1970s/80s, but there are lots of teaching pros out there making good money ... summer tennis camps for juniors and adults ... and people who've never picked up a racquet in their lives who know who the Williams sisters are. (I was at the park the other day, where the tennis courts are adjacent to a baseball field. There were some kids playing baseball ... which was a rare sight. Much rarer than the three tennis courts being occupied, which they were and me at the wall.)

Now, that being said, sports in general have, at least in this country, taken a back seat. Sports used to be synonymous with fitness ... but now we have a sport called "fitness," where you push some buttons on a machine or give yourself up to a $60 an hour "trainer" in order to LOOK like an athlete. Sure, spectator sports still exist. Football is wildly popular ... but only because of a very aggressive outreach program, which brought in a lot of women fans. Basketball is less popular in the US, but much more popular overseas. And there are more Latin American baseball players in the Major Leagues than African American players (and more Asian players than any time in its history). Anyway, tennis is not popular as a spectator sport because it hasn't been aggressively promoted.

05-19-2004, 05:56 AM
For people to play, they must find others very close to their skill level. Otherwise, you get into a very dominant/subordinate situation -- nobody likes to lose all the time and even winning loses its allure after a while. The game can't seem too hard or too easy.

More people will play when more people at their level are available to play them. There is little objective feedback how good you are or how you are progressing except thru winning and losing to others and the game can't effectively be handicapped between two players. So we're back to square one, we need more players to make it more popular.

drop shot
05-21-2004, 11:29 PM
The tv and movies portray tennis either with a stuffy old white guy dressed in all white with a sweater tied around his neck or a loser type who hits the ball as hard as he can and dresses in basketball clothing ala' Adam Sandler or Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party. Plus tennis is much too strenuous for the typical male today. With golf one can drink a beer while playing and smoke a cigarette. Not so in tennis. Plus their are no carts to haul their fat *** around in.

05-22-2004, 09:12 AM
drop shot-you said it. those guys playing golf with their tank-asses being hauled around by a poor little golf cart. Almost makes me sad for the golf cart.

05-24-2004, 10:54 AM
It's not a physical team sport like basketball, football, or soccer. It's tought to learn and get good at, and hard to find partners of similar skills. It can be boring to watch a 4 hour match of service winners and repetitive shots between only two players.

I think the scoring of tennis is just fine as is, but maybe 2/3 sets is enough for the Slams, but I do enjoy a good 5 setter as much as anyone else.

Tennis is my favorite sport, and I grew up playing football, basketball, and baseball. Now I play tennis, soccer, volleyball, and frisbee golf. But I am always learning new things in tennis.

05-26-2004, 06:24 PM
First I am hooked beyond rational behavior. I am reading these post aren't I? But I think tennis has several strikes against it.

Not a true team sport. Less people on the court at one time and not as easy to blend in different levels or types of skill. Like in basketball maybe I am a good passer etc...

Takes a lot of patience to play at a lower level. The play stops when you knock it over the fence and you have to keep running the ball down. Kids have low attention span.

Equipment can be more expensive. $15 dollar basketball can last the whole summer for a group of kids. You have to get kids hooked to make it really popular.

Tennis courts take up a lot of space. Can't stick up a tennis court in the back yard or just throw up a net or mark out of bounds with sticks.

Plus everything else you guys mentioned like support in small schools all the way up thru the media.

05-26-2004, 07:39 PM
Basketball courts = Free and in abundance
Quality Basketball costs $40 for an entire group that lasts years
Handball courts = Free and in great abundance
$1 per handball, replace every few days or replace if lost in sewer drain cause your opponent overshot it out of the fences
Baseball diamonds = Free
1 bat, 1 ball, Varying costs for a mitt for each player but mitts last a good long damn time
Football = Find a field, grab a ball, have a blast
$30 for a ball that'll keep up to 22 people entertained for years
Hell even public swimming pool = Free
Public Tennis Courts = $100 per player per season and compared to other courts, there are significantly fewer.
$3 per can of balls every other day, string costs, labor costs, racquet for each individual player.... Expensive as ****

This is all relating to the Queens NY area. I dont get why there are fees just for public tennis and none other sport? When there are other, cheaper and fun opportunities. Last year, the courts were bustling with people old and young playing tennis. This year, some attendant assigned by the parks services of NY regulates checking for permits if you dare enter the courts. Now, except for that single attendant and his family and personal friends playing tennis on ONE court of an 8 court area, its dead empty. Sometimes when I drive by there are an old couple also playing, but tennis just died in that area for the past couple of weeks since the attendant came. It's a damn shame to see 7 courts empty on a cloudy afternoon and that guy rejecting people left and right from entering.

I would be willing to pay for a court permit, but unfortunately, the friends im trying to introduce tennis to dont want to pay $100 each to "try" the game. And since there's no one on the court, there's no sense in me getting a court permit.
So whats my point? Public courts should be made PUBLIC. You cant introduce new players to the game if you're charging $100 to do so! You can easily introduce someone to any of the other games mentioned above but not this specific game of tennis... And you wonder why tennis isnt so popular anymore...

11-09-2007, 11:20 PM
I think golf is a rich person's game it is way more costly then tennis. I think it appeals to people as that - hey I'm rich I can play golf you can't mentality.
Tennis might be seen as being for the poor since there are FREE tennis courts some even lighted all over where I live. People can play for free so how good can it be.

You don't need an expensive racquet and you don't need to buy new balls all the time (get non-pressurized). It's not that financially draining but it certainly lacks cool status say like B-Ball.

Another problem you do have to be in some sort of shape to run around - for sports like softball and golf you don't need to be. It's a game where you need to find a partner(s) and that is not easy. Part of the problem is timing and part of the problem is skill level. Golf has a very good handicapping system but tennis doesn't. So if you manage to find a partner and they're way better then you it's not a lot of fun and like I said there's no good way to handicap.

TV moving away hurt for sure. But it's hurt all sports. When I was a kid you had only a few channels to choose from and so when tennis was on TV there wasn't much option but to watch it - it was more entertaining then a lot of stuff on the other few channels - now there are 100s of channels with loads of entertainment options. (Also video games, internet etc exist now.)

Lot of people won't try it and a lot have tried once or twice didn't do well and just stopped. There's a bit of a learning curve to tennis.

11-10-2007, 12:48 AM
Also, in this age of alarmingly high personal insecurity, people don't want to be alone on the playing field, pitted against another person. People are more comfortable - and feel more secure - playing on a team of people.

Golf is unlike tennis because although golf is also an individual sport, there is no direct competition against another person. In golf, you play against the course.
Golf is also known for its frienliness - you "chat nicely" with your playing partner as you play.
Tennis, on the other hand, is more inherently intensely competitive.

11-10-2007, 05:25 AM
- Its not a physical contact sport like football. People like contact.

- Its not a team sport that people can get behind like baseball or football. People like to support a team, even high school football gets thousands of fans out to show up.

- It doesn't have the type of drama that exists in football, hockey, or soccer. The drama is different

- Plenty of matches on TV are almost as boring as watching a guy hit a golf ball on TV

- Its expensive. You can't simply throw a soccer ball on a field with 20 kids and say have a good time

- Its a clubby kind of sport which doesn't appeal to the masses

- Its hard to get good at and easy to quit.

11-10-2007, 05:15 PM
well many argue that tennis is an expensive sport but i think that's a big misconception.

if u want an expensive sport u might as well go to Golf , Polo , Lacrosse and the most expensive of them all , Formula racing and rallying.

I really want to play football but its very costly. U have to mark the field (we only have a soccer field) , buy equipment and all

11-10-2007, 05:25 PM
Public Tennis Courts = $100 per player per season and compared to other courts, there are significantly fewer.
$3 per can of balls every other day, string costs, labor costs, racquet for each individual player.... Expensive as ****

I'm lucky enough to live in a town that not only has a racquet club but also about 10 public tennis courts that are free to use once you've gotten a $30 beach pass. I think your other expenses are a little overblown for the real beginner, to be honest with you. Someone who's just looking into the game to see if they want to play aren't going to buy a can of balls every other day, or drop $100+ on a racquet or worry about the strings. Once they get into it, and start looking at actual technique and maybe take a few lessons or two, then they'll start looking at better racquets and strings and all the other factors. That's what happens in just about any sport you take up as a hobby. You don't start off spending $300 on something you're not even sure you'll like.

11-10-2007, 05:33 PM
Most people who aren't serious players (and some who are) find it incredibly boring to watch. Try to distance yourself from your affection for the game next time you watch and you may notice how monotonous it is, especially as played in recent years almost entirely from the baseline. I love the game but can barely watch it anymore, unless Santoro or someone else with a little variety is on the court.

11-10-2007, 06:01 PM
I think people have summed it up pretty well.

Boiling it down to one word? Inaccessible. More than most sports.

11-10-2007, 06:12 PM
it's a girly sport. not for mucho men. they make fun of us. because we hit tennis balls.

I'm sorry, but I don't think I've ever heard this argument ever over here..Half the guys I know who play tennis are mucho men and take the sport very seriously...Maybe if you're a terrible 3.5 player, yeah the argument might work.