The “Election” – Professional Tennis Players Are Sending the Wrong Message
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This blog is NOT about politics. I am referring to the US Open election. What?! Didn’t you know there was an election going on in tennis? It is in the headlines pretty much every day right now. It’s the US Open player election (or is it a sweepstakes) - who will play, and who’s out - leaving fans, the media, and tournament organizers waiting with “bated breath” for announcements from Rafael Nadal, Simone Halep and other top players. To me these players are sending completely the wrong message to other players and to tennis fans across the globe who have suffered through illness, loss of life, severe economic uncertainty, quarantines and so on.
Chances are that 2021 will be much better year than 2020
The tennis industry is very fortunate, relatively speaking. I am not suggesting that companies and organizations in our industry have not been affected. Many have had to completely reinvent themselves, reorganize their workforce, and adjust to a large shift in demand, but consider businesses tied to travel or food and entertainment. Not only are these industries having a devastating year, there is no clear end in sight, not next year, maybe not the year after that. Whereas people have flocked to tennis as a haven for exercise, fun and socialization. Courts are full. Bookings are up. And sure, budgets are tight, and things are far from secure, but chances are high that 2021 will be much better year than 2020. So we survive and advance.
There are literally thousands of professional tennis players who would sign up to contract the virus today if it meant they could play the US Open.
Back to the election - when most sports were canceling everything, the USTA committed that it would provide a safe process and a safe venue for running the event, in fact two back to back events including the Western & Southern Open. You and I cannot even imagine the amount of planning and investment that has gone into pulling this off. Sure, the USTA has a huge financial interest in making them happen, but they have doubled down in that they are taking on considerable risk while expecting significantly less revenue from the events. So, who stands to benefit the most? The top players. And what are they talking about? How hard a decision this is for them and how concerned they are about the strict requirements for coming to New York, having to live at airport hotels and having to limit who they can bring with them. As someone we all know once said, you cannot be serious! These are world class athletes who put their physical and mental wellbeing at risk every day on tour, who are least likely to be affected even if they should contract the virus, and they are having a bubble created just for them so they can compete for millions of dollars while supporting the industry that has made them celebrities! I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t play. I expect that there are literally thousands of professional tennis players who would sign up to contract the virus today if it meant they could play the US Open.
Please eliminate any conversation that suggests that this is hard on you
Look – if you don’t want to play, don’t play. Just exit in a way that doesn’t reek with insensitivity and ingratitude. Make a choice and stay out of the press. And specifically, please eliminate any conversation that suggests that this is hard on you. And realize that your choice not to play will not remotely dim my enthusiasm for watching live tennis at the US Open.
Seriously, wouldn’t you be willing to contract the corona virus for a chance to play the US Open?