Global business consultant based in Miami, with an MBA from Boston University and Executive studies at Northwestern Business School. Global expertise in supply chains, distribution, foreign markets, family businesses, and business transformations. A D3 player when young, Javier has been involved in tennis for all his life. An avid photographer and a defacto tennis coach, he writes articles often trying to influence the direction of tennis in the USA. His mantra is to make sure
tennis is accessible for all who want to play, regardless of income level.
A white-collar job is typically performed in an office environment and involves clerical, administrative, or managerial duties. Some examples of industries with many white-collar jobs include tech, accounting, marketing, and consulting. The term “white collar” refers to the white shirts that many of these professionals traditionally wear.
A blue-collar job is typically some sort of manual or trade-related labor. Some examples of industries with many blue-collar jobs include retail, manufacturing, food service, and construction. The term was originally coined in the 1920s when these types of employees wore durable fabrics like denim or chambray, which were often blue to assist in concealing dirt or grease due to the nature of their work.
So, if we were to understand those definitions clearly, where would we put sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and tennis?
The reality is basketball, baseball and football are blue-collar sports. Soccer all over the world is played by blue-collar people, but here in the US soccer is a ‘pay to play” sport and the results are clear, the best infrastructure in the world with the poorest results in men’s soccer. In our sport, tennis also a "pay to play" sport, the leaders of the USTA have managed for years to make it an extremely expensive sport to play despite being the worlds’ best-funded sports nonprofit. This level of thinking of course has a consequence, no kids playing, no young adults playing, no future fans for the streaming of tennis or the US Open, and what is coming next which is a bill so high to transform tennis and make up for the past decisions that it will not be possible to pay for this.
Tennis in America has a simple problem: it has a sport that is played by white-collar types but to succeed at it you need blue-collar work standards and circumstances and if you want the sport to grow and are desperately looking for a star you need blue-collar kids playing, lots of them. Think of any pro players you wish and think of the long hours it takes to learn a world-class forehand and the monotonous repetitions in the millions of balls that resemble years of work as a factory worker. The issue is though that when the minds of the USTA executives are focused on entertaining wall street types and trying desperately to develop players who can only adopt the sport and play if they are in the high white-collar income brackets, then you realize how foolish this whole thing is and how limited is the thinking. It makes sense to no one but to the USTA executives unless of course, the objective is to keep all their jobs at the expense of stifling the game unless someone notices and calls it out.
Why can’t the USTA figure this out?
By Javier Palenque
Quick question: Do you know what is a blue-collar sport and a white-collar sport?
Of course, some fancy tennis reporter from a well-known publication is going to point to me one or two players who don’t fit this mold and think he has made a valid point against my argument, yet when you bother to make a careful study of most of the players in the world one would clearly support my point of view.
So, let me get this straight, you are saying that for a kid to be good at this sport he/she needs to have blue-collar life circumstances but currently, the sport is played only by people who can afford to travel, pay coaches, physios, tournaments, etc. in other words the very people that lack those life circumstances. How does this make any sense? Furthermore, if these kids succeed, they get the privilege to entertain wall street types. Think Laver Cup, US Open, or any of the very few tournaments that make money, only 4 Grand Slams and 9 masters 1000 make money, the rest lose money. Now, do you understand how this makes little to no sense to anyone seriously thinking about this issue?
Let us recap, the target market of kids that can succeed and represent us to the world don't play the sport, and those that do play, don't have the skills we know are required to succeed at the sport? to make matters worse those skills can't be taught they must be lived, huh... and this makes sense to whom?
So USTA here is an idea to consider: If to succeed at this sport you need blue-collar work ethics and life circumstances, did it ever occur to you to make the game accessible and easier to those kinds of folks? I am just saying, maybe…. higher participation numbers in the right areas, means higher odds of getting stars ( if that is what you are set in looking for).
I think we may find that Tiafoe, Serena, Venus, Naomi, Maria, Jimmy, Chris, Martina, Ivan, etc. are good proof that we may need to steer the game where the odds of succeeding are higher and where the color of the parents' collars are blue.
I don’t know about you, but it makes a lot of sense to me.
Tennis is a blue-collar sport played by white-collar folks. Maybe its time we seriously think about how to grow the game….. let me give you a clue: it rhymes with you.
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