Interesting Read - Straw Dogs

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by tennis5, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    A friend sent me a bunch of articles ( blogs) and I thought I would share.. Makes an interesting read.

    Straw Dogs
    Blog | November 14, 2011 | By Steven Kaplan


    At what age or level, if any, does home-schooling become necessary for a serious tennis player?
    I summarized by stating "While the tennis rewards of home schooling are undeniable, the educational compromise and risk engendered by this road make it all too often a well-intended but misguided decision for families at any age."

    I e-mailed the full text of my answer to Jose Higueras, head of USTA High Performance.
    He responded several hours later by saying "In general, I agree with you,
    but I believe it can be the right move for "some" kids.
    I find this a curious answer since the USTA High Performance Program at Flushing,
    as well as all other High Performance facilities recommends Home Schooling to most,
    if not all its participants.

    I e-mailed Mr.Higueras back twice, each time asking him for a more detailed answer.
    First I asked, "Specifically, which children do you believe benefit educationally and vocationally from home schooling? I think the word choice "some" is broad. I then added, "The USTA offers a tennis training program that engenders home schooling and you agree that home schooling is right for 'some,' but not all kids. I think the ramifications of this decision are profound. Do you think it would be a worthwhile idea for the USTA to recommend or perhaps even to provide an educational counselor or consultant to parents as part of the High Performance Program?"

    I have not received a response.

    While we consult Zagat's before choosing a restaurant, and Trip Advisor before reserving a hotel room, one of the most important educational decisions in our children's lives may be made without seeking extensive expert advice. Since the USTA dispenses institutional recommendations about education from a position of great authority to eager parents, engaging an expert to help recommend the best decision would be the responsible thing to do. As a result, the appropriate candidates for home schooling can be identified from a broader perspective then simply, "tennis ability."

    Some ancient cultures built Straw Dogs and worshiped them as idols in elaborate ceremonies.
    When this ritual was over, these Straw Dogs were discarded, and burned like trash.
    I listened to a great deal of spin during this year's U.S. Open broadcast from Pat McEnroe about the successes and promising future of the shining stars of U.S. Player development.
    However, these players represent less than one percent of the program.
    I heard nothing about the Straw Dogs of tennis who, with the blessing of the USTA,
    comprised their academic, social and career potential to drop out of school to play tennis.

    Arthur Ashe, who championed the ideal that tennis can be the means to providing education
    and implored kids to stay in school, must be turning over in his grave.



    Older one ( same subject):


    USTA Says Skip School, Play Tennis
    Blog | August 10, 2010 | By Steven Kaplan

    With the back to school season fast approaching, Long Islanders should be proud that they have a collective ideal which emphasizes the value of education, and as a result, some of the finest schools in the world.
    So it's back to school in September, EXCEPT for a select few of the best young players in the area that is,
    if the USTA has it's say.

    That's right, the USTA is suggesting that the players in their winter program might be better off receiving education by "home schooling," rather than by staying in school.
    How could this be?
    Maybe it's business expediency.
    Those in the Junior Development business know what impedes their business.
    Tournaments limit attendance at programs, so it's not surprising that the USTA conveniently suggested that players in the Flushing Program are better served by temporarily forgoing tournaments to attend the program.

    This is a radical departure from there previous initiative of encouraging tournament play by developing a system of gathering points by playing as many tournaments as possible. This system saw tournament attendance (as well as tournament-generated income) skyrocket.
    Does anyone see a pattern developing here since school gets in the way of Junior Development attendance too?

    The USTA in their new role as High Performance educators do not choose to send the message "stay in school," as Arthur Ashe once so strongly advocated. Rather, they have set up their own "school" because they believe they can provide a better education or maybe they simply don't care about the consequences if they can't.

    I have nothing against home schooling as a family decision mind you.
    I take strong exception, however, if it is an agenda-driven institutional recommendation.
    Ironically, Patrick McEnroe, the head of USTA Player Development, went to the best schools,
    Buckley, Trinity and Stanford, and improved slowly in a balanced environment on his way to the top.
    Sadly, times have changed.

    I hope all of the sixth grade dropouts created by this program make it on the professional tennis tour.
    If not, then I can think of at least one organization whose conduct indicates that they have high level jobs for those with questionable educational standards.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
    #1
  2. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    The USTA would benefit from American top players so if parents are willing to homeschool and slightly increase the odds of producing a better player, all good for the USTA. So they are probably not the best source for an unbiased opinion on the best course for any specific kid.
     
    #2
  3. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    I think the blogger was trying to point out the hypocrisy of the top USTA guy who went to the best schools in the country, and now the same person is promoting homeschooling...

    And that if you choose the USTA regional center, there is no wiggle room for school.
    You must drop out of school if you wish to be in their program.

    Who knows, maybe the good old boy system will work, and they will end up all working at the USTA in the future.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
    #3
  4. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    It's funny that the USTA has created this "American" culture of home schooling tennis kids.

    If you think about all the other sports played in high school, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, where they can move onto the professional level, none are home schooled.
     
    #4
  5. donnymac10s

    donnymac10s Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    just to play devil's advocate, I think that tennis is a more complex sport. In addition to developing athletic ability, the player must also grasp the technical and tactical concepts. I think that it'd be best if every major community had a school designed to assist athletes...a year around program but classes would be limited to about noon each day. this would allow athletes with the ample opportunity to get a well-rounded education and also sufficient time to practice their craft.
     
    #5
  6. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    My daughter's high school has what's called "block scheduling" which essentially means classes started at 7am and ended at 12 noon. This was perfect for her tennis.
     
    #6
  7. TennisNola

    TennisNola New User

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Right now, there are a few students at the USTA Training Center East (the site that the blogger is referring to) who attend regular school... one of which I know for a fact is a student of Steven Kaplan on the days he does not attend the USTA program. Just a piece of information to shed light on the personal nature of the blog post.
     
    #7
  8. donnymac10s

    donnymac10s Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    yes, some schools have that. some do it 2 days a week only. How is your daughter's school set up? Also, I'm referring to a year-around program with shorter breaks between the quarters (maybe 2 weeks) so the players don't get "mushy" over the long summer and also they don't sacrifice education.
     
    #8
  9. klu375

    klu375 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    503
    What is happening with homeschooling in the Eastern section looks like epidemic and USTA leads by example. Only on the girls side there are over 10 girls of HS age homeschooling and a few more of middle-school age. Most of them probably do not plan to become a professional tennis player, some have understandable reasons to do it but some are just not that academically inclined and do not want to go to school and parents let them. And there is no proof that they will become more successfull players if they spend more hours on court and do more far-away tournaments.
    It seems the prolifiration of full-time tennis academies and RTCs in the NYC Metro area found their victims.
     
    #9
  10. chalkflewup

    chalkflewup Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,697
    In the right situation and with proper parental support, homeschooling is an excellent alternative to traditional school.
     
    #10
  11. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    Yup. We volunteer in soup kitchens, talk to folks pan handling on the corners, run inner city tennis programs, read news coverage of people doing bad things all over the country, watch the show Intervention.....as yet I have not met or seen a one who was home schooled.

    Not sure how some get this false notion homeschooling leads to anything but good....with exceptions of course like with anything.
     
    #11
  12. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    Two different dynamics. No matter what high school you go to you can play your football and basketball schedule a bus ride away. The better teams can then travel within the section if they are that good, within the state for championships if super good teams.

    Tennis kids must travel farther once they get to a certain point. So of course more tennis kids would homeschool than football kids. Tennis is unique in many ways, no coach, call own lines, more travel at higher levels. Impossible to compare junior tennis with most other kids sports.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
    #12
  13. donnymac10s

    donnymac10s Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    And let's remember that football and basketball aren't exactly high-priority sports in other countries.. we dominate because so few other countries play it at a high level. In many ways, this is how tennis used to be in 70s and 80s when a great deal of the world was shut off by the Iron Curtain.
     
    #13
  14. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    Bingo! You know why we used to rule tennis with Mac and Connors and Agassi and Sampras and Courier and on and on? You know why Nick B. had a hotbed of champions? Easy, the rest of the world was sleeping on tennis compared to the last 10 years.

    Mike Agassi says that he would put Andre into baseball today because tennis has become so global that it is almost impossible to make it worth even attempting to produce a top player.
     
    #14
  15. donnymac10s

    donnymac10s Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    Glad that you agree. A graphite racket would cost a year's salary in the Eastern Europe in the 80s. Not many people could afford more than one. Balls, strings and indoor court time are still super expensive comparatively speaking...limiting even more players. Not to say that Sampras, Courier and Agassi wouldn't have been great anyway, but you never know how the system would've have shaped their careers had the make up of the competition been entirely different.
     
    #15
  16. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    Not true, high school sports are now year round. With club teams and specialized coaching, (QB, place kicking, linebacker, pitching, catching, etc. coaching) plus summer camps, these high school sports are just like tennis, an "industry".
     
    #16
  17. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Messages:
    4,885
    Agreed. It's not like the old days 60s, 70s and 80s in the states when kids played the sport during the season which it was played. The majority of kids could go out for their H.S. sport of choice make the team and play up to 3 sports or so during the year.

    Now schools are bigger making tryouts a much more widely attended deal. More kids playing sports starting at a young age. This now means many H.S. coaches in traditional sports like volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball are cutting way more kids than back in the old days. To your point, most kids now have to specialize before getting to H.S. if they hope to have a shot at making the team.
     
    #17
  18. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    Here in Socal, there are "Football" and "Basketball" high schools. Many messy issues about kids transferring high schools to play at those school's, also the trend is these coaches earn big salaries, often more than principles.
     
    #18
  19. chalkflewup

    chalkflewup Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,697
    Happens all over the place. Kids find "relatives" in the same town as the basketball powerhouse and they end up with the magical transfer.
     
    #19
  20. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    Not even close to being relevant to my point. I made no reference to training year round or the amount of training for any sport, so your post is completely off the mark.

    My point is that a high school football/basketball player, and I know lots of them as we train our kids in some of the same programs, can compete locally, regionally, and in the state and go very far in the sport and attract college attention. Thus homeschooling is not as important or prevalent.

    Tennis kids HAVE to travel once they reach a certain level. I personally know many football kids who never traveled past their school districts and have full rides to D-1 schools. Almost impossible for a tennis kid to never travel more than 20 miles and be a D-1 scholarship kid.

    The posts were discussing homeschooling and why it may be more prevalent in tennis than in other sports. Its quite obvious that a football kid can and most times do, compete and attract attention without playing nationally...a tennis kid usually can't.

    Common sense...the several day set up and travel of an elite level junior tennis tournament schedule would make home schooling more attractive than for a kid playing a high school football schedule.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
    #20
  21. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    I have to disagree, those football/basketball players train has much or even more than tennis kids. Where you go for competition doesn't matter.
     
    #21
  22. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    You can not disagree by switching to a totally different topic. Of course if one sports kid travels the nation to compete and the other only gets on a bus for 20 minutes it is a huge difference.

    We are discussing 2 different things. A high school football player plays 11 games in his district and is a star. He attracts college coaches. He may live in the weight room and train like a demon, so what....there would be no lure or need to homeschool. He misses no or little school time.

    A tennis kid on an elite level plays 15 tournaments and has to travel, stay for days, travel home, miss tons of school. Has to play national events to attract coaches. Homeschooling is attractive in many cases.

    There is no discussion about who trains harder....its about the huge difference in required travel for elite junior tennis and why that may lead to more homeschooling.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
    #22
  23. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    I'm really sorry to have to disagree.

    In any competitive sport, traveling is the easiest for the player. The grind of training is the most difficult part.

    I have done the "elite level" tennis with my daughter who attended a public school. She played all the super's, most L2, and some local L3, back before the major changes made by the USTA.
    She was able to maintain a 3.65 GPA, while playing the "elite level" tennis.
    While on her travels, she was able to complete and stay current with her homework, while at home coping with school and tennis is when it was the most difficult time. Many, many nights up till 1am!
     
    #23
  24. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Messages:
    319
    I agree. The majority of home schooled tennis players I've run across have made this choice initially based on the travel and time required away from school. Those few that made the choice solely to train have not really had the success they had hoped for.
     
    #24
  25. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    671
    My experience coincides with what TCF describes. Don't know of any homeschooling to accommodate athletics for athletes other than tennis players. And the reason primarily is the travel.

    I am sure there are some football, baseball, basketball etc players out there homeschooling because of the demands of their sport......just saying the only athlete homeschoolers I have run into in my little slice of experience are tennis players

    The term "elite level" is not subject to precise definition, but I consider it to refer to top 100 or so on TRN.
     
    #25
  26. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Messages:
    514
    -------------------
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
    #26
  27. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    Yes, but the point of the blogger is that homeschooling pushed by the USTA has not led to any tennis champions, and instead the kids have thrown away their education on a wild gamble without any real thought about whether junior has the real skills to make it as a champion.
    His last remark is maybe the USTA will give them jobs.
     
    #27
  28. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Messages:
    514
    --------------------
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
    #28
  29. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    991
    My post was about USTA junior tennis, I think you were giving examples of playing ITF's. With the new tournament changes, tournaments are 2-3 days, usually on the weekends. If the junior makes it to the semis or finals, then they are there for the duration of the tournament, other than that, most juniors are on their way home after 2 days.
    Like I said, my daughter played juniors several years ago when super's and L2's were 3-7 days long.
     
    #29
  30. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Messages:
    514
    ------------------
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
    #30
  31. Number1Coach

    Number1Coach Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,450
    Your are completely correct , you don't have to travel far to attract coaches and putting in the hard work is the tough part traveling is the easy part.

    Then again you are speaking by experience I can see others speak as though they know without even seeing . Very interesting how many ways that insight is applied.
     
    #31
  32. Number1Coach

    Number1Coach Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,450
    The one question i have for this whole board is ,,,,, If the USTA can't build a Champion and a parent who is nutty can't do it and neither can the American academies then why do you all sit on here and bicker about it?

    Someone on here should have and educated answer for me .

    but heres a good reason for homeschooling just happen today,

    MIAMI (AP) — Seven central Florida teenagers were arrested after authorities said they punched and kicked a 13-year-old until she was unconscious while on a school bus.
    The victim told authorities that Friday was her first time riding the bus and no one would let her sit down. About 75 children were riding the bus bound for a middle school in Ocala, a rural city north of Orlando. The victim said someone threw a shoe at her and she threw one back, according to an arrest report.
    One girl allegedly asked students if they wanted to hit the victim, then instructed the teens to form a circle and began hitting and kicking the victim. Several witnesses said they saw the girl fall to the floor and "appear to have a seizure and pass out," according to the arrest report.
    The victim, who is not being identified, was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, severe bruising on her head and muscle spasms.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2012
    #32
  33. klu375

    klu375 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    503
    Kids we are talking about dropped out of City magnet, suburbian public and pricey private prep schools. Nobody was riding a bus in rural FL.
     
    #33
  34. chalkflewup

    chalkflewup Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,697
    I don't think they are being pushed at all. Keep in mind that many of the top kids were already home schooled and not attending traditional school prior to attending USTA. I don't believe tthe home school path is educational suicide as you eluded to in your post. It may not be for everyone, but in the right situation, non-traditional education works. I know a home schooler alum playing tennis at West Point right now. Another home schooler just committed to Vanderbilt.
     
    #34
  35. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    I look at the past 40 major championships and who won them. There is no specific formula. So all or none of those people and organization may or may not ever produce a champion.

    Then I look at the past NBA champions. I see they all had tall, athletic guys and most teams played very good team defense. I can correlate a lot better what it takes to be an NBA champion, what sort of team I should build.

    But tennis is individual and so global and so all over the map. How can David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori possibly be ranked higher than the thousands of 6'2-6'6" physical marvels who live for tennis? How come some Grand Slam champs grow up playing soccer while others only live and breathe tennis from age 5? How can a muscular guy from an island in Spain be a great player...but also a average looking Swiss dude be great....then a joking guy from Serbia....then a short man from another country...with some 6'6" giant breathing down their necks?

    Thats why all we can do is give tennis kids the best opportunities and then see what happens. Nick B. stopped making predictions over 5 years ago. Even he admits the global game makes it impossible to have much clue about who will be a champ. 25 years ago Nick's organization had some connection to many champions and a third of the field at Wimbledon. With each passing 5 years that number has shrunk and shrunk.

    If my kid plays basketball I have a good idea who his competition is to be a top player. If he is the 3rd best player in the USA I know he can compete on a global scale. But if my kid plays tennis I am flying blind, besides seeing some foreign looking names on the ITF list or in the Euro championships. I have no idea who those players are, their styles, their support system, their size.

    Thats why all we can do as America tennis parents and USTA is to give our kids the best support we can and see where their tennis takes them. But lets admit what we are doing.....trying to prepare a kid to be one of 75 guys in the world who makes a profit playing tennis, while avoiding injuries with no team mates to bring in off the bench, and entering a global competition with out having a clue who much of the competition will be with each passing year.

    We are trying to juggle 5 balls, have all the stars align, while not knowing who around the world is also trying to do the same exact thing. Sounds fun and interesting, but lets not claim to have a clue if we are the parents or organization who will actually pull it off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
    #35
  36. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,189
    Yes, the travel and the tournament system make everything different. Playing basketball growing up, I could walk a block from my house and play with my buddies. There were a couple guys who ended up playing basketball in college in the bunch. Go over to a different neighborhood a couple miles away and there were future NBA players and guys who were better than them in high school who never even got close to graduating. I'm sure such is the case in many American cities.
    This isn't the case for tennis - the talent is spread out all over the country and all over the world. You can't walk or drive to the local park and play the best players in the world.
     
    #36
  37. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    526
    When we lived in the US I was able to work out a schedule with the high school were my son attended class starting at 9:40 and ending at 3:10. This worked out very well as he could have two hitting sessions a day with a break in between.
     
    #37
  38. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Messages:
    319
    Public or private school?
     
    #38
  39. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    526
    Public. They have an independent study athletics program that requires the student to turn in regular activity reports, competition plans and results. The athletic program has to be supervised by an accredited coach.
     
    #39
  40. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    I think you were lucky. My son's school won't even let him miss gym.
     
    #40
  41. fitmom

    fitmom New User

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    TennisCoachFLA, great post above! i would love to talk to you more about your thoughts - please see my profile for my contact info. i think the ParentingAces readers would be very interested in reading your comment.
     
    #41
  42. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,773
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    I peg Andre Agassi's chances of being a rich pro baseball player at somewhere close to zero, and much worse than his chances of being a top tennis player if he had come along a generation later. No offense to Mike Agassi, but he has no clue on that subject. Andre did not have the body type for pro baseball as it is played today, a power hitting game.

    No offense, TCF, but I am getting really tired of seeing that quote. Mike Agassi knows a lot about what he did with Andre in tennis, but his experience raising pro baseball players is nil.
     
    #42
  43. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    671
    And your experience in baseball is what??

    I think you should stick to tennis where you seem to have useful things to say.

    2011 and 2010 were both dubbed the "Year of the Pitcher" in major league baseball. I think Agassi had a fine body type for a middle infielder or a pitcher. Power hitters at those positions are the exception rather than the rule.

    Here is a chart of runs scored in MLB in recent years, from Baseball America:


    Team runs/game
    2011
    4.16

    2010
    4.38

    2009
    4.61

    2008
    4.65

    2007
    4.80

    2006
    4.86

    2005
    4.59

    2004
    4.81

    2003
    4.73

    2002
    4.62

    2001
    4.78

    2000
    5.14
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
    #43
  44. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Messages:
    319
    Or is it just the result of more stringent drug tests and stiffer penalties?
     
    #44
  45. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    671
    Definitely that is part of why MLB has changed. There is a renewed emphasis on defense, pitching, and "smallball".

    Kids with Agassi-type bodies out there, both tennis and baseball are options for you, I think.
     
    #45
  46. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,773
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    How would you compare the odds of any athlete doing as well in one sport as he actually did in his chosen sport? Given a top player in tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball, or football, if that player had played another sport instead, what would be the likely outcome? Hint: When you made #1 in your chosen sport, there is nowhere to go but downhill.

    Lots of top athletes in one sport could have been "pretty darn good" in another sport. But an athlete who is top 5 in the world in his chosen sport would be likely to finish lower, probably much lower, in a different sport.

    I also think the example of Agassi is baloney. A player of Andre's talent would rise to the very top of American tennis today. He would have all the training advantages, wild cards, red carpets that American tennis could roll out for him. Even if I accepted the idea that the field is deeper and it is harder to be #1, where do you think he would end up? Outside the top 10? Lower than Roddick, Fish, et al.? Is there any reason to think that Andre would have a worse career than David Ferrer, who has cracked the top 5 on occasion and made millions? Don't think so.

    Therefore, Andre would have made millions and would be the top American tennis player today, regardless of whether he would pass up Nadal, Federer, et al. He would be the premier endorsements earner among American tennis players, making much more in endorsements than in prize money, and easily in the world top 10.

    Let's compare that to the totally unknown, hypothetical career he could have had in baseball, where he might have ended up a star second baseman making a fortune, or could have stalled out in AAA ball and not quite made the majors, or might not have even made it that far. How do we know he ever would have had the passion for baseball that is needed to be a great baseball player?

    Mike Agassi is trying to make a point that he thinks the international competition is tougher today for American players than it used to be. Point well taken. However, his claim that he would have Andre play baseball instead is either (a) hyperbole to make a point; (b) totally ignorant nonsense; or (c) the proclamation of a very egotistical father who thinks he could have coached his son to elite greatness in any of several different sports if he had chosen a different path. I am not sure which is the real answer, so I won't say what is inside his head, but his claim is hogwash.
     
    #46
  47. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    526
    I thought his point was the odds of a talented athletic kid with Agassi’s skills making a pro career in baseball are higher than the odds of the same kid making it in tennis. When you look at the competition and the money for both sports I think I agree with him.
     
    #47
  48. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,773
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    In that case, re-read the portion of my post you did not quote. We can never do the experiment two ways with one athlete, so we cannot prove the point one way or the other, but we can apply some common sense. Not only is there nowhere to go but downhill when you are able to be top 5 in the world in one sport and choose another one instead, but it is unlikely that you have equal passion for two different sports. Also, people are looking at primarily physical attributes. The mental toughness of a #1 tennis player is useful in any sport, but it is far more essential in tennis than in a team sport like baseball.

    Physical skills, mental abilities, passion; none of the three make a perfect transfer from one sport to another. Anything less than a perfect transfer of the level of excellence in these three areas could take you from top 5 to just "pretty good" in the second sport.
     
    #48
  49. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    526
    I did not make myself clear. I completely agree that Agassi was so successful in tennis that it is obviously very unlikely he would have done better in baseball.

    If you have a kid who looks like he has Agassi’s talents today which sport would have the best odds for him to make a professional career? Remember, you don’t have perfect information about his ability’s, mental toughness, decision making abilities, etc. You never have perfect information when you are making this choice. What is the best sport?
     
    #49
  50. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,773
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    Very tough question. My approach: Expose him to several sports at a young age, and see what he gets passionate about. My experience is that some kids thrive on the mental challenges of tennis, but others decide that they really love team sports and really do not like individual sports. If the parents push the kid into the sport that the parent chooses, even though the personality of the kid does not suit the sport, I see nothing but trouble ahead.
     
    #50

Share This Page