This week I saw an article that stated that 32% of college scholarships go to foreign students, when I saw that I can’t hide that anger was my first reaction.
How can that be? We have fewer kids playing tennis here, attrition rates that are atrocious (double digits), a great market for continued play at the college level and 1/3 of the slots go to people who don’t live here in our country?
Image our normal Miami neighborhood, great city warm weather all year, sunny almost every day for every 10000 kids that we have only 200 play tennis, of the 200 after a few years we will lose 75% of them due to the cost and tennis structure of the game that means we will have only 50 kids left. Of the 50 left the odds of them playing DI or DII tennis are 2.4% (see stats). Ok from our original 200 pool of kids only 5 will play college tennis? In essence we lose 195 out of 200. For those interested in the math we lose 97.5% of our kids to go to the college level.
This seems unreal, how can we lose 97.5% of our kids and foreigners get to take 32% of the college slots?
That in essence means that for every 4.5 men’s college scholarship 1.5 goes to someone overseas and for the women of the 8 available approximately 3 go to someone foreign. This is madness, at this rate the sport will cease to exist.
Now, let’s look at the scholarships:
As you can see only DI and DII offer scholarships yet there are plenty of DIII opportunities to grow the game:
From my point of view as a dad and defacto coach, losing 2800 college spots (DI and DII) to foreigners is unacceptable.
As throughout the years we know many kids that could have easily earned one of those slots and quit the game in the process. Another way to look at the 2800 lost slots is split them in age groups 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U (2800/4 =700) that would mean 700 slots per age groups that we are giving up.
You mean to tell me that if you are among the 700 kids in each age group we as a country lose you and those spots go to foreigners? Why do we lose you again? To even further top that off, DIII can offer 2288 slots for further college play that go to foreigners, why do we accept this?
SO MANY KIDS CAN GO to DIII sports if they stuck to tennis. Imagine a 512 draw in each category (12’, 14…) each one of those kids should be on a path to a scholarship and still have plenty of room for the foreigners. Fact is there is never a 512 person draw in any category. Why do we lose them?
For coaches: How can we accept that we lose so many kids? Those kids are your customers, those kids children will be your customers. GROWING THE GAME HAS TO BE PRIORITY #1.
For kids: Demand more playing opportunities through your parents, tennis is supposed to be FUN, not a bore. It has to be where you compete daily and weekly and have fun in weekends and play and play.
For parents: Educate yourselves, learn what mistakes to avoid, follow blogs, talk to other parents, start thinking in terms of a TEAM not your kid alone.
For USTA and its leadership you cannot look at these numbers year after year and continue with the same competitive structure that reduces the pool of people? We are losing our kids, our playing opportunities, our game. Am I the only one that sees this? Then we wonder why we don’t have kids that exceed at the sport at a world class level?. I will tell you why:
- Because we do not work together, parents, kids, coaches and the USTA
- Parents education for the sport is nonexistent, yet USTA has no programs for them.
- Coaches education is random at best. FIX IT!!!
- USTA tournament structure is from the past not adjusted to the reality ( remember Blockbuster video?)
- USTA fails to understand who its customer is? it is the parents ALL parents not those small number who believe their kids will be pros. They will not and you know it.
- It is simply too expensive.
- USTA player development #1 mission should be to grow the game for ALL, not search for the next FEDERER. Simply because champions are built with small family TEAMS. No federation can build a top player. NONE.
- Tennis is a team sport played individually, why don’t people understand this?
As more tennis programs in college will be cut given these numbers, then the playing opportunities will further decline. Accepting this outlook for our sport and our kids without doing something is insane, irresponsible and malpractice to our sport, our youth and their opportunities.
We need to grow the game for our kids, their youth and our country. USTA where are you? Where is the vision for the future. Key Biscayne has 26 courts, 2 red clay, 4 green clay, 18 hard courts, it used to be the USTA training center a few years back. Most of the courts are empty most of the time.
Having built in Orlando a facility 4 times bigger or 100 courts in Orlando that are used 15% of the time or less sounds good if you can make it work with 85% of the time being empty. I am sorry, I rather have more kids playing day in and day out at every park, school and weekend tournament.
I want the USTA to call for a summit to save tennis where parents, coaches and the leadership can LISTEN what other ideas are needed. Personally I rather see more kids not quitting the sport, and certainly want to see more US kids playing college tennis.
Who reading this does not agree with that?