Male students often arrive at our place in horrible poor physical shape. I have inquired about this and they reveal that they are discouraged from participating in any physically demanding activity for fear that it will be too much for them.
Tennis at our place is very hard and physically demanding. I have kids come, as old as 16, and interview and never return for fear of how hard the program is. This is the exact opposite of my generation who never recoiled from a difficult task.
Some South African immigrants recently presented to me a startling conjecture. The reason that American males are growing up so pampered and irresponsible is that the father in the family has failed to do his job of teaching the males how to step-up to a challenge.
They went so far as to say that the mother now has too much say in the upbringing and as a result the boys are prevented doing what boys of my generation did: constantly engage in vigorous physical activity.
Of note is that those students in our program who also play football or basketball report how much easier training for those sports is compared to tennis. When we get a transfer from football, for example, it takes at least a month to get the student into adequate physical shape to do our drills because they have never been physically challenged.
These facts now raise a new and controversial question about why tennis participation is lagging. It is not that that other sports are “stealing’ the talent; it is because other sports are easier.
A curious fact about group sports is the factor of “group think”. Players can actually agree among themselves to slack off and take it easy during training, thus resulting in an inferior player.
Tennis, at least at our place, does not allow for such group think. It is quite the opposite: everyone must constantly step up the pace and meet difficult challenges.
So I leave this question for your readers: is the fall off in American tennis a result of other sports stealing the talent; or, is it a result of pampered kids just not being able to step up to a challenge because they have never been required to do so, or even discouraged from dong so?