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THE GOOD

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TENNIS IS NOT DEAD YET - PICKLEBALL MISTAKES MAY FLATTEN OUT THE GROWTH CURVE 

Is Pickleball the "Pete Buttiegieg of sports?"

CONTEXT:  The USTA has that strategy of maintaining good relations with the USAPA and putting some PB courts in at Lake Nona. They went one step further with the USAP Padel group. They put Padel courts in and got them to take up office space at the National Campus if I see that right. So there is some kind of an agreement. I wonder if the Padel people needed money and the USTA was happy to provide some. 

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The USTA’s support for making Padel an Olympic sport is another bargaining chip, of course. I wouldn't be surprised if that Olympic carrot also played a role in the relationship with the USAPA.

So all that makes me believe that the USTA has some grand plan seeing more revenue at the end of that racquet sports tunnel. Keep your enemies close by and hold your cards close to your chest sort of thing.

I’m seeing something else developing with Pickleball. The USAPA is trying to attract the younger crowds and goes into high schools and colleges. Every high schooler with good tennis abilities will love PB with its lower learning curve. Every college player that doesn’t make the A-team or the Pro-Tour will love the fact they can make really interesting money with PB on the weekends. $50-100K per anno playing on weekends, not a bad deal.

 

At the same time, the USAPA is pissing their oldest supporters off by

 

  1. Going for quantity rather than quality. The more people playing in tournaments the more money they make. If there are only 6 in the age group 70+ they let them play against the 50+ crowd. The mantra: Everybody needs to get a  trophy, not just the good ones!

  2. Making the tournaments quite expensive because of ever-increasing prize money and plain greed.

 

We know that those better older players are very disappointed but the USAPA and the tournament directors don’t really care. They’ll be too old to play soon, anyway. And the pool of younger, low to intermediate players is so much bigger. I am willing to bet that soon enough they will do away with any of the older age groups, “the pain-in-the neck complainers.”

 

Remember when the USTA got rid of the Super Senior age group? Bad move. Most of them left tennis, many joined PB and made it to what it is today. The entire huge army of Ambassadors – all senior ex-tennis players.

 

Spinning that yarn some more, and knowing that the young crowd may not be the volunteer crowd, what does the future for PB look like? Yes, the billionaires put money into professional events and their players, but will the base erode when the sport gets too commercialized? That status of “we are the most welcoming sport” is already going down the drain, anyway. I predict PB is following the tennis tradition of cliques playing together and not letting newcomers in, especially no beginners.

While writing the headline to this article I was thinking of those Pickleballers that are running around trumpeting the death of the sport that gave life to them: TENNIS. And I thought, NOT SO FAST!

Pickleballers are running around trumpeting the death

of the sport that gave life to them: TENNIS.

NOT SO FAST!

I found an interesting example of where PB is trending in that regard in The New Yorker. The article "Can Pickleball Save America?" is quite long and very detailed. Right in the middle, you can read what Sherry Scheer, a former tennis coach and a pickleball senior pro had to say. "There’s drama and cliquiness... some young players won’t play with you if you’re a little less skilled, or at their skill level and a little bit older. At community courts, you put your paddles in, four paddles at a time, randomly, and you play with different people—that’s the social aspect. But all of a sudden you have people who will only play with their players. It’s happening all over the country. It’s a real problem.” Sheer's wife Beth remarked, “That’s how tennis is." (And I know she's right. Especially in Southern California.)

And how about this brand-new article in GQ? "Pickleball Is Booming. Not Everyone Is Happy About That" The sub-headline is: "The rapidly-growing racket sport seems to be gaining haters almost as fast as players." And, guess what, the writers, Charlie Dulik and Michael Nicholas, actually try and put some fun twists to the story, like this one: "To detractors like us, it’s a senior citizen’s idea of something youthful and hip—the Pete Buttigieg of sports, if you will."

 

The above are all reasons to believe that the growth rate of PB will flatten out sooner or later. Other sports will swoop in. POP, Padel, Spec, Platform. I can’t wait for the day when Spec Tennis Ambassadors go in front of city and county folks demanding to share the PB courts in the area. Full circle, haha.

WOMEN'S SPORTS GETTING NOTICED BY BIG CAPITAL

Women's tennis may even get some morsels

CONTEXT:  For the longest time, women's sports were treated more like the black sheep of the family compared to their male equivalents. Billions and billions of dollars were (and still are) pouring into male-dominated sports like football, baseball, basketball, and to a lesser degree also men's tennis.

Maybe the earnings gap will narrow a little soon. Remember? The average NBA player earns $8M while a WNBA player earns $75K. The average PGA player earns $1M+ and an LPGA player earns $48K on average. 

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Photo: Mike Watters - USA Today Sports

And Front Office Sports (FOS) reported that the movement for equal pay in women’s soccer is growing, but it hasn’t reached Germany yet. The country’s federation will give $61,000 to each member of the women’s national team for winning their Euro 2022 tournament — whereas each men’s player would get a whopping $407,000 for their edition. 

July 13, FOS headlined an article "Rights Deals Could Boost Women’s Sports into $1B Industry" in which they quote from a Deloitte report that identifies media rights deals as a clear indicator of the growth in women's sports. "ESPN, which previously paid the WNBA $12 million annually, now pays $25 million annually for rights. Their deal is up in 2025 — and the 2021 season saw a 49% viewership increase from 2020."

Then it was reported that the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), based in St. Petersburg, Florida, is set to sell a 20% stake to UK private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for $150 million. CVC Capital Partners is no lightweight in the private equity market. Wikipedia writes, "CVC Capital Partners is a Luxembourg-based private equity and investment advisory firm with approximately US$122 billion of assets under management and approximately €157 billion in secured commitments since inception across American, European, and Asian private equity, secondaries, and credit funds." The London Times writes that CC Capital Partners has already bought up parts of rugby, cricket, and Spanish football.

Knowing WTA CEO Steve Simon just a little from his time as Tournament Director and COO of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, I remember him to be a shrewd money manager. I can imagine that the WTA's decision of abandoning the Chinese market while we're still looking for Peng Shuai has created some anxiety regarding the organization's financial situation and so the sale of a 20% stake for $150M seems to be a good move imo. The entire Peng Shuai case is of course a sad story for everyone involved, especially after the player announced her retirement in February. However, obtaining outside capital could be a sign that Simon has decided not to cave and stick to his decision to get clarity about the player before restarting the WTA competition in China. Good for him and good for the WTA Board supporting this decision!

CVC Capital Partners investing a good chunk of money in women's tennis is a game changer, folks. I see it as a major player in equity investment is bullish on women's tennis. And that is a great sign. 

ANTOINETTA MOSLEY -

THE NEW FACE OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION

"Where those of a different feather can soar together."

CONTEXT:  DEI is gaining importance in the world of tennis. Example: The ITA is posting as their DEI Mission Statement: 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to ensure the success and long-term well-being of college tennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). Both benefit from the diversity of thought, backgrounds, and experiences of our Board, Staff, and stakeholders.

The ITA is therefore committed to fostering an inclusive membership body that creates and delivers quality educational, tennis, and other programming. The ITA engages in inclusive hiring and promotes Board representation from qualified diverse individuals.

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The other day I listened to another one of the USTA Florida section's interesting "Here To Serve" podcasts. It's a half-hour conversation with  I Follow the Leader CEO, Antoinetta Mosley discussing "how having courageous conversations allows diversity, equity and inclusion to thrive on and off the court." I was thoroughly impressed by that podcast and with both women.

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Pictured: Antoinetta Mosley and USTA Florida ED Laura Bowen. Click on the image to watch the podcast.

Antoinetta Mosley hails from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina and her LinkedIn page states she is DEI Strategist │ Keynote Speaker │ I help change agents cultivate equitable and inclusive spaces, so their culture can be celebrated, not tolerated. │ DON'T DIY YOUR DEI.™

Antoinetta describes her company this way: "I Follow the Leader is a leadership consulting firm specializing in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) strategy, initiatives, and education. I Follow the Leader heightens awareness and readiness of DEI initiatives within companies. We move businesses along the diversity continuum, improve their overall culture, and help leaders take action to increase profitability, creativity, and innovation. Since being founded in 2016, I Follow the Leader has engaged thousands of professionals on DEI-related topics. We work with a wide array of stakeholders across small businesses, nonprofits, universities, and large enterprises."

After contacting her I learned that the firm has worked with the USTA practically since its inception. Antoinette wrote me, "I am currently in Atlanta at the Atlanta Open to speak with the USTA Southern Emerging Leaders so I will be fully immersed in the tennis world this weekend." A quick search showed that most of the USTA sections make an effort to demonstrate how important DEI is to them and I applaud them for that. 

 

Antoinetta sent me links to some of her articles that may be interesting for our readers and offered the following introduction:

"I have learned a lot about tennis and met wonderful people from across the country, thanks to partnering with various USTA affiliates since 2017. A common theme I have heard over the last five years is that tennis lovers want to make the sport more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. However, stakeholders often ask me similar questions that organizations across industries and of all sizes often grapple with.

  • Where do we begin?

  • What does DEI done well look like?

  • How do we measure success?

  • How do we maintain the momentum?

 

The four articles shared help to answer some of those questions. If those who love tennis can commit to cultivating courage, having courageous conversations, making DEI a strategic priority, and practicing inclusivity, tennis can be known as a sport that celebrates individuals on and off the court."

Here are the articles Antoinetta sent me:

Courage can be contagious

Courage can be contagious if people see your courage in action. Yes, it's lovely if your courage helps you personally and professionally, AND it's even more impactful if your courage can inspire others to make courageous choices that positively impact others. Read the full article here.

Are you willing to be courageous, even when it's uncomfortable?

Many of us are not taught how to have courageous conversations, lean into the uncomfortable, to not only share the highlight reels but the messy middle as well- before the rainbow has come or the problem has been solved with a beautiful bow on top. Amidst a society that celebrates highlight reels, I would rather be known as a woman willing to be courageous than a woman who made people comfortable. Read the full article here.

What if DEI audits were taken as seriously as financial audits?

A Forbes article titled "Culture: The Most Overlooked Element of Audits" written by Chris Cancialosi in 2014 highlights three reasons why culture should be incorporated into audits. It's eight year later- and many organization's still haven't made the shift described as "a drastic change to traditional auditing processes, which evaluate quantifiable aspects of business such as inventory and compliance. As a more nebulous and complex aspect of business, culture isn’t something many companies are used to measuring — nor do they really know how." Many organizations that shifted to a cultural audit haven't upgraded their auditing process to include factors that measure satisfaction around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Before adding a few questions into an already incorporated employee survey, I Follow the Leader recommends having a full DEI cultural audit conducted. Read the full article here.

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If you want to connect with Antoinetta Mosley, please do it one of two ways:

Reach out to her via LinkedIn messaging https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoinettamosley/ 

 

or via their contact form at https://ifollowtheleader.com/contact

FIRST TENNIS AMBASSADOR EQUIPMENT PACKAGE DELIVERED IN CHICAGO

The Ace Project is the inaugural recipient - innovative tennis technology for great kids!

I am very pleased with the first handover of a brand new TENNIS AMBASSADOR equipment package to a very nice group of tennis folks in Riverdale, a very underserved community in the south of Chicago.

The Executive Director of The Ace Project, Susan Klumpner, says that in 2021 Ace served over 1,000 kid and their parents through Covid. Susan has quite the resume: She is the Associate Director of Field Education at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. She has past experience as a former school social worker and extensive knowledge in the design, implementation, and evaluation of after-school programming for low-income students of color in urban settings.

 

The setting up of our TENNIS AMBASSADOR equipment was interesting. While the unpacking of the HEAD racquets and Penn balls was a no-brainer, and while I put the Eye Coach together, the kids were much more in tune with how the Slinger ball machine works and where to charge it. (Note to self: it takes 4-5 hours to fully charge a Slinger Bag.) Everything worked fine and everyone was happy! Well done, TENNIS AMBASSADOR manufacturers. You should have seen the eyes of those kids!

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Susan wanted to challenge the Slinger Bag. "Who's going to be the better ball feeder?" I think the exactness of the automated ball feed points toward Slinger but the supportive suggestions and encouragement from Susan always have an edge over any machine imo.

 

This group will put the equipment to good use. On to New Jersey, the home of our August recipient of the next TENNIS AMBASSADOR package. I can't wait!

PATENT PENDING ELECTRONIC SCORING SYSTEM (ESS) REPLACES FLIP CARDS AND ALLOWS REAL-TIME SCORING INFORMATION TO BE AVAILABLE ON OTHER COURTS, THROUGHOUT YOUR CLUB, AND REMOTELY.

Capture scores and disseminate them to team members, viewers, and beyond.

CONTEXT: Tennis-related technologies have been used to better the game and club operations for over 25 years. Examples have included administrative functions/club management, line calling, player analysis, and coaches’ tracking applications. What has been missing until now is the replacement of the “flip cards,” and improved visibility of the score information within and beyond the club. 

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The patent pending ESS system is a new, dynamic simple-to-use technology that easily allows players to capture their scores courtside, and allows the scoring information to be quickly, widely and accurately disseminated to team members, viewers, and beyond. 

Electronic Scoring Systems (ESS), which is currently in use at Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly Massachusetts, replaces the manual flip cards with iPads at each court. The players’ names and match information are preset by the club or the player prior to going out onto the court and can be updated while on the court. The players can easily update their score information while they play (games, sets, and side), similar to how they flipped the cards in the past. But then, this captured score information can be disseminated in real-time to other courts at the club, throughout the club, and to remote users over the internet. There are additional court-side functions as well. One of the app’s functions allows players on other courts to see other courts’ scores. 

A second function allows remote score viewing, and live video feed (with proper password protection) of a selected court. Above is the promotional advertisement for the Electronic Scoring System including two of the system's key screens and the offer being made to Tennis Club Business readers. Check out the application (and the offer being made to readers of Tennis Club Business) if you are interested in increasing satisfaction amongst your members and players, and ensuring that your facility is state-of-the-art.

 

 

Functions included in the current release of the software are: 

  • Viewing scores on all, or selected courts (i.e., seeing how your teammates are doing during a match),

  • Displaying the scores and live video of players on a specific court (allowing anyone with proper security from coaches to grandparents in Florida to watch!),

  • Pre-setting match information for league matches, lessons, and other weekly events,

  • Tournament Management showing the current score on each of the courts involved in the tournament and the “on deck” players assigned to the court,

  • Next-Up, which allows the club to show the court numbers for all matches scheduled for the next half hour, as well as allowing  advertising to be shown at the bottom of the screen for both local advertisers and national advertisers, and 

  • A Members App is provided free, which can be given to club members as desired by the club.

 

The system can be licensed with or without video included.  The base prices for the first year are estimated to range from $1,000 (hardware and software) per court for the basic system without Video included, to $1,550 for the full video-enabled system (hardware and software).  Starting in the second year, only software licensing fees will be required.  Software-only prices would be $450 or $300 per court for video-enabled and basic systems respectively.  This information is summarized in the table below. 

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Note: The hardware pricing assumes refurbished iPads since the technical requirements for the iPads at courtside are limited.  Additional hardware at the club’s discretion can be added, including seeing the score from the reverse side, more iPads at the control desk, and iPads for displaying activity at specific courts. Similarly, less hardware can be acquired, thus lowering costs if the club chooses to use existing iPads already located within the club.

 

Bass River  (see www.TennisElectronicScoring.Com) has agreed to provide a free software license for the remainder of this year with the first annual license and fee beginning January 1, 2023, for any club acquiring the software that mentions that they saw this write-up or TBC when calling to discuss the ESS system in more detail and request a “Zoom Demo” of the system.  Bass River is excited to bring this new tennis-specific technology into scoring, and dissemination of scoring and video information beyond the court.  Please call Bass River Tennis Club at 978-927-0102 and leave your name, phone number, email, club name, and best time to return your call so that a Zoom demo can be scheduled. 

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THE BAD

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DOES THE ASPEN INSTITUTE KNOW SOMETHING WE DON'T?

Pickleball saves America?

CONTEXT: I'm on The Aspen Institute's mailing list and I often wonder where do they make an impact. Can they show us some tangible results? Same for their one flagship program, Project Play. I know the USTA is a partner but I'm not seeing any activities on that side, either. Just meetings and much talk. If I'm wrong, I gladly correct that in our September issue.

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Anyway, the last email from The Aspen Institute included a list of "IDEAS that can help sports serve the public interest." Check out the one in the center. "Play pickleball to save America." I have a better suggestion, though. Why not call it "Play tennis to save tennis" or "Play tennis so the pickleballers can't steal your courts." (Just kidding, Mr. Maloof.)

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CALLING OUT ANOTHER TENNIS EMAIL ABUSER

Do you really think emailing me every day will make me buy your service?

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CONTEXT: I have in the past called out companies that take your interest in their product or service as an invitation to email you day after day after day with new propositions. For me, the biggest abusers in that regard were always playyourcourt.com and essentialtennis.com. See also my June 2020 article License to Blast.

Now a new player has entered the tennis arena: Gamesense. The website claims, "TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO READ THE GAME FASTER. Sport-specific brain training for baseball, softball, and tennis. Pitch recognition training helps you become a more dangerous hitter. Serve recognition training will have you breaking serve more often. Used by over 30,000 pro, college, olympic, and youth athletes."

Naturally, I can't comment on those claims. That's something others would be more qualified to do. Although I have heard that the app has enormous potential.

 

However, once you sign up, you'll get two identical emails every single day of the week, trying to entice you to start doing their free "drills" of recognizing various serves and then buying their upgrade. Gamesense Plus is $10 per month, billed annually or monthly for $19/month. Besides the question of ethics for only giving you the final price after you start taking free drills, the pricing setup looks a little scammy to me. Why don't they say it's $19 per month or $120 per year?

In my above-mentioned article, I pointed out under Email Frequency Best Practices, "Sending an email every second day (or even more often) will drastically lower engagement levels without generating more sales." While you might be able to get away with sending an extra weekly email, pushing out any more definitely gets you into spammer territory. And if you’re still thinking of doing this, remember that receiving too many emails is the number one reason people unsubscribe from lists

Will TENNIS BE DESTROYED BY CLIMATE CHANGE?

145 degrees at the 2050 US Open?

This article in FiveThirtyEight is either hoax or a wake-up call. You decide. It's titled "Outdoor Tennis Could Be Sports’ First Big Climate Change Casualty" and it postulates that climate change is THE existential crisis for tennis. The authors estimate that the heat at the 2050 U.S. Open in New York, could rise to 145 degrees. Holy crap. Do you believe that? Tell me what you think. Oh, and if you work for the USTA, tell us what's your game plan.

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THE UGLY

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NIL COULD BE DEADLY FOR COLLEGE TENNIS

Covid had sent College Tennis to the chopping block. NIL is the ax that may come down sooner than we think.

 

CONTEXT: The world of college recruiting changed dramatically on July 1, 2021, when the NCAA enacted a rule to allow college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. Overnight, student-athletes who previously had been restricted to receiving stipends and scholarships suddenly could sign endorsement deals. The Athletic writes, "Collegiate sports, largely unchanged for more than a century, has experienced unprecedented change in less than one year. Much of that change has been centered around name, image, and likeness (NIL)." Since NCAA rules state that players can not be paid to play, and no quid pro quo was allowed athletes weren’t supposed to receive compensation tied to performance, and recruits weren’t supposed to sign deals contingent on going to a certain school. Then came a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year and California Senate Bill 206, and voila, a new college athletes wild-wild-west era began resulting in financial chaos.

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What followed was a slew of endorsement announcements, from NFT and Nike deals to local restaurant and car dealership partnerships. Agent signings. Social media ad posts.

 

  • Eighteen-year-old Arch Manning will get a $3.4 million NIL commitment to play college football. 

  • Quarterback Jaden Rashada is said to have inked the largest NIL deal in history for a high school recruit at $9.5M. Signed up by the University of Miami. The 4-star QB reportedly turned down a $11M offer from UF to commit to UofM.

  • An unnamed high school college football player has signed a deal that could pay him up to $8 million, The Athletic reported on March 12. The contract reportedly will pay $350,000 right away, with escalating payments that will total $2 million per year.
     

Shall I go on?

Why am I writing about this? It's College Football after all. We all saw how some colleges were quick to cut tennis during Covid. Some of them brought it back but not all did. And now this new exposure for college athletes and the accompanying attention broadcasters give to the sport of football. What could it all mean? Less money for other sports, such as tennis. No big broadcasting deals for tennis, either. College Tennis could go back on the chopping block, folks. Mark my words.

TRANSGENDER UPDATE

Transgender women being allowed to participate in women's sports is the issue

 

DISCLAIMER: I do not believe Transgender women are ugly. As a matter of fact, some look outright stunning. The reason why I put this topic under THE UGLY is purely my believe that the discussion is ugly, time-consuming, and avoidable.

 

CONTEXT: I have been reporting about Transgender Women's issues since September 2019 when my article "Transgender Confusion Coming to Your Courts Soon!" was one of the most-read TCB items that year. It not only gave you a birds-eye view of the entire situation but it also provided some explanations as to some of those new terms used.

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Photo: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Last month's article TRANSGENDER WOMEN - IS THE USTA THROWING THEIR OWN LEAGUE PLAYERS UNDER THE BUS? was quite popular. Many of our readers know that the issue is already at the doorsteps of tennis and the Transgender lobby will throw that door wide open as soon as they can. They know that the USTA, weak and woke, will not stand in their way. It's you and me and a batallion of women gladiators that have to fight them off. And you read it here first, at TCB!

Now, I have to ask you guys in earnest: Doesn't the below photo make your blood boil? A biological male wins a swimming competition and leaves two real females in second and third place. Honestly, folks. What the fuck? At least our female readers should be outraged! No? WTF is wrong with you? Do you know you're being silenced? Do you realize that the woke USTA has okayed that for its adult league program?

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A lot of things had happened since our article last month. I want to quickly list some bullet points.

But there is hope, folks. The above mentioned swimmer, Lia Thomas, has failed in a bid to win the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Woman of the Year award.

And how about that latest news from UK Rugby? Safety first! UK's rugby leagues ban transgender players from women's games.

GOOD! LET'S KEEP FIGHTING FOR WOMEN'S SPORTS!

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THE WEIRD

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WHY DO USTA EXECS NOT LISTEN TO CRITICS?

Do they ever read the surveys they're sending out regularly? Do they really want to know what people are thinking?

This is one of the biggest puzzles for me. To my knowledge, the only USTA executive who ever tried to deal with dissent was Michael Dowse. Guess what? It didn't work well for him. He's gone. The executives that ran the good ship USTA into deep waters and amassed $760M in debt, Gordon Smith and Kurt Kamperman, coined the phrase "Ignore the noise" which still seems to be the all-encompassing mantra for the top brass and the Board.

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But is that the right way to deal with critics? I happen to know a few CEOs of successful companies. Each and everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief. I was told this is MBA curriculum 101 - you deal with dissent. You pull the critics in and attempt to work with them. "Nothing is worse than bad social media publicity from people that are hellbent on not going away."

The most dangerous man to any government (governing body) is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, inept, and intolerable.

 

H. L. Mencken

It would, of course, be interesting to find out whether there are any MBAs in Business Management among USTA executives. The new CEO Lew Sherr has an MBA in Marketing but does that really count? After all, it's pretty obvious that he wasn't the first choice of the Board. He was just the only insider. And he is a man! Oh, and he probably bought his way in by promising to sell the Western & Southern Open for a lot of money. No?

Craig Morris has a Master of Sports Management degree from an Australian university. Does that count for something? Not sure. Would be interesting to go down the line and check out every C-Suite type plus Managing Directors.

I asked one of the USTA's biggest critics, Javier Palenque, why they won't listen to him. His reply: The USTA does not listen to me because, given my professional global experience, tennis experience, and education, it is very easy to see all the flaws and mistakes they make. So, when I call for an audit of every transaction of $100k+ for the past 15 years when over $5B entered the coffers, they are truly scared of me. Two previous board of directors told me so. Competence is hard to argue with and if I demand accountability, I am persona non grata for them.

And as far as the annual member surveys are concerned? I think I know now why they always contain such terribly unspecific, generalized wishy-washy questions: They don't want to hear from dissenting voices. The more you water down the questions, the better the overall answers will make you appear. Critics are annoying troublemakers that need to be ignored.

Critics are annoying troublemakers that need to be ignored.

US OPEN - THE CONTINUING SAGA OF
MR NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Is the U.S. President 'pushing for a forever pandemic?"

CONTEXT:  While the US Open itself doesn't have a vaccination mandate in place, they are following rules set by the United States government. The US still bans travel into the country for any foreigner who can't show proof of vaccination. The tournament's official statement was, "'The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens."

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Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

There are a lot of people including some U.S. Senators who are currently blasting the President for the "absurd" ban on entry for all unvaccinated foreigners according to the Daily Mail. More than 17,000 fans have signed an online petition calling for the US government to allow Djokovic to play in the two-week tournament.

The Daily Mail quotes University of California San Francisco epidemiologist Vianay Prasad who questioned the basis for the ban, noting unvaccinated fans will be in the tournament audience. "In case they don't know, vaccinated people can spread the virus readily. You could airdrop a million Novak Djokovics in the US, and the pandemic will proceed exactly as it otherwise would."

They also identified another supporter of Novak: John McEnroe, who was quick to slam the recent playing ban saying, 'These politicians are getting in the way too much…Let's let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean, come on, this is ridiculous.'

As always, Jon Wertheim brings it down to the lowest common denominator with his article Breaking Down the Novak Djokovic-U.S. Open Situation. Well worth the read, folks.

Does it make sense that Djokovic could he play in 2020 and 2021 and cannot in 2022? Or that unvaccinated Tennys Sandgren can play while Djokovic cannot? On its face, no. But inconsistency is a way of a life. Especially in a pandemic, where targets and data are moving.

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I don't know what to think of all this, to be honest. I do understand the USTA's position but I don't understand the government at all. Every single day of the year, thousands of unvaccinated and undocumented souls are entering the United States through our Southern Borders and the government is apparently OK with this.

 

I'll say this: Let the man play! 

DO YOU USE FILLER WORDS ALL THE TIME?

Meet Amy Choyne - master of the filler words

When famed Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim made fun of Naomi Osaka's use of the word "like" in a tweet, he touched on a nerve for me. Since English is not my first language, I'm kind of allergic to those kinds of sloppy communications, especially by young girls and women in America. I'm sure I have my own issues expressing myself properly but I decided to get to the bottom of the reason why people use these phrases.

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Experts call them"filler words" and I googled the topic trying to find out why people are using them. Lindsay Dodgson wrote in Business Insider (The psychological reasons why we use filler words like 'um' and 'you know' in conversations) that only a few lucky people have the ability to speak fluently without hesitation. He points to a comment from a retired FBI Special Agent who said that these little words can also signal deception. He said tag words such as "you know," "I mean," and "right" are used to seek confirmation from the listener, or convince them. "Truthful people convey information and seek confirmation from listeners. Liars try to convince others that what is being said is true. The word 'like' indicates that what is being said is different than what the speaker actually means."

Public Speaking Coach John Bowe said this on CNBC: "Avoid these 5 types of words and phrases that make you sound ‘immature.'

1. Facts that are already in your slide deck (“This slide shows we had $3 million in sales this year.”)

2. Asides (“This research was finicky, just like my mother-in-law.”)

3. Filler words (“Ahhh” - “Uhhh” - “You know?” - “Like, ... ”)

4. Business jargon (“Circle back” - “Bandwidth” - “Low-hanging fruit” - “Synergy”)

5. Hedging words (“Kind of” - “Sort of” - “I guess” - “Just”)

In regards to filler words, he added, "We tend to fall back on filler words when we pause and think about what we’ll say next. You won’t be faulted for the occasional “umm” or “so,” but be aware that every syllable demands an equal amount of the other person’s attention. Getting rid of fillers makes you seem more focused and articulate."

Remembering this, I had to smile when I came across a podcast where Front Office Sports Chief Content Officer Lisa Granatstein had a conversation with USTA Chief Brand Officer Amy Choyne.

It was a very good 23-minute video to watch. I'm sure Amy Choyne is a lovely person and represented the USTA quite admirably. However, I noticed her use of one filler word: "you know..." and that made me think. Is she just nervous? Is she being deceptive? Is there something wrong with the US Open this year? Click on the video and count the You Knows, it's probably 40 times or even more than that.

Hmmm...

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