Gary Horvath is a USPTA master pro, founder and past president of the USA Professional Platform Tennis Association, charter member of PPTR, a certified coach with USA Volleyball and a long-standing member of the Wilson Advisory Staff.
His experience as a tennis pro has covered the entire spectrum from grassroots to college tennis. In addition, Gary Horvath has conducted extensive business and economic research that has largely supported the state of Colorado's economic development efforts.
WHAT ABOUT THE MILLENNIALS THAT EVERYONE DREADED TEN YEARS AGO?
It is important to understand the ongoing transition between generations
By Gary Horvath
It is a done deal! After years of debate, the Millennials are in the majority. Generation X is exiting stage-right, and the number of Baby Boomers is beginning to drop off.
The transition between generations matters to society, the workforce, and the tennis industry because the different groups have different priorities. Will those different priorities matter?
The data in Chart I show the number of people by single year of age for 2022. The number of people for every year varies based on births, deaths, and net migration.
The range of ages may differ for each generation. For example, the Baby Boomers span more years (1946 to 1964 - birth years) than other generations.
Table I summarizes this data for those who prefer to see the numbers used for the chart. Slightly more than 80% of the population are Millennials, Gen Z, Baby Boomers, and Gen X. The number of people in each group is similar; however, their position in the life cycle is very different.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the workforce as people 16 and older. The primary workforce is 25 to 54 years old. In 2022, the median age of the workforce was 42 years.
Table II shows that Millennials dominate the primary years of the workforce, 25-54 years. About 56% of the population in this range are Millennials, 41% are Generation X, and 3% are Generation Z. Over the next decade, the role of Generation Z will increase, and Generation X will decrease. The tennis industry must understand this evolution to maintain a stable workforce.
In addition to the workforce, the tennis industry must also understand the mix of each generation in its primary and secondary player markets (Table III).
The primary adult age groups for players are 25 to 34 and 35 to 44.
There are 45.5 million people in the 25 to 34 age group, including 4.3 million people from Generation Z and 41.2 million Millennials. Each year, the number of Millennials will decrease, and the number of people from Generation Z will increase.
There are 43.7 million people in the 35 to 44 age group, including 31.1 million Millennials and 12.6 million people from Generation X. Each year, this group will add Millennials and lose people from Generation X.
There are 89.2 million people in the primary adult tennis market, including people from three generations.
The secondary adult age groups for players are 45 to 54, 45 to 64, and 18 to 24.
The total population for the 45 to 54 group is about 40.4 million. They are all from Generation X.
The total population for the 55 to 64 group is approximately 42.1 million, including 29.8 million Baby Boomers and 12.3 million people from Generation X. Market penetration in the latter group is typically weak.
The total population for the 18 to 24 group is about 31.3 million. They are all from Generation Z.
There are about 113.8 million people in these secondary markets.
The junior age group tennis market is 6 to 17 years old.
The total population of juniors is 50.0 million, including about 12.1 million from Generation Alpha and 37.9 million from Gen Z.
For the past decade, the media has focused on the differences between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. There are differences between the seven generations mentioned in this discussion, but the data shows there are currently players from three generations in the tennis industry's primary adult market.
Successful teaching professionals are masters at adapting to change. Over the years, they have adapted to different instructional methods and philosophies, equipment, rating systems, and industry leadership. Changing with the transition between generations is something that quality professionals will take in stride.
Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests Baby Boomers or members of Generation X manage, own, or direct many tennis associations or businesses. That is not all bad, particularly if they are willing to do the work and share their institutional knowledge with younger associates. If they are successful, they most likely understand the needs of other generations and are meeting their needs. If they are not, they will go out of business. As more older leaders leave the industry and younger leaders gain experience, the number of younger leaders will increase.
It is important to understand the ongoing transition between generations. It is even more essential to adapt to the changing needs the different groups of players bring to the industry.
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