The Commish is not just one single person, it is a real and true thought experiment of many different entities. That's also why the Commish has no prefered pronouns and you
can call the Commish anything and anyway you want. Makes no difference to the Commish. The Commish lives in the minds of all tennis professionals, tennis players, tennis organizers, everyone with a clear and logical thought pocess.
Making Noise For Tennis
By The Commish
The Commish used to like to go to big meetings to be seen and heard, now they don’t have to do that any more. Commish would like to commend commish like people such as Rich Neher our beloved publisher for building an amazing platform outside of your editorial control. It’s a noisy place at times, listen to it. OK, that’s enough ass kissing for now, gotta keep the sponsors happy. There were some big meetings a few years ago and it was said, ‘Contrary to public opinion, we aren’t just having a meeting in Indian Wells, so that we can be here at the tournament and have an excuse to travel to an exotic destination’, except that was a lie and two full years of fun meetings with inspirational speakers, expert panels, and super duper technology pieces yielded exactly ZERO Action Items. Probably the most comedic moment was that one where a mucky much told the commish about his plans to create an app where juniors could anonymously report each other for cheating. That was like a goldfish spitting out it’s poop, only to eat it, spit it, eat it.
Have you noticed that as the USTA has grown in size, tennis has not? Who remembers the Tennis Boom? That happened when the USTA was a few people in White Plains, and some sections had one employee. How did that happen? It wasn’t them, they just sorta looked over some tournaments, and said “Game of a Lifetime” a lot, a lot, a lot.
Be Extra Noisy In 2021
Let’s hear it for a noisy 2021. The Commish heard from a little birdie that the mucky mucks on top don’t want to hear noise. So turn your speakers all the way up and listen to the Commish’s response:
Let’s hope that’s not true and it was just something overheard out of context, but let’s assume that it is true, because it’s the well established USTA way. (BTW, by the time you are done reading this you might want to string the Commish up by their short and curlies…) It’s time for the populist movement in tennis to be reinstated, as we tried the throwing money at it with bureaucratic competency, and what did we get? Bureaucracy is what we got. The recent down turn in everything seems to be just what large organizations need: hunger.
Listen To This
Covid brought you tennis growth. Period. It wasn’t messaging from USTA, it wasn’t a teaching organization, it wasn’t any organization. It was the desperation of people who had no other sport to play. Look what’s happening, tennis is booming, but I assure you that it has nothing to do with the USTA. New starter racquet sales are up a gazillion percent. But you, the bureaucrat WILL NOT seize on the opportunity. We The Commish, you The Commish, we are ALL The Commish, the owners of the game. With this boom tell me, how have their big organization membership numbers moved? That’s what I thought.
Who are the winners? The ones who listen. When someone says ‘Tune out the noise’, they are saying, ‘We know better, we are not listening’. So you, fellow Commish, don’t talk. Listen to your people. With the many many people starting, find out what they want. We bet they don’t want to be lonely, they want to be with people socially, having fun, falling in love with the best sport in the world. We bet they heard something about how tennis players are 50% less likely to die of any cause. We bet they found out that tennis players are among the brightest minds, problem solvers, and optimistic ones. They want to meet people from all over the world who love the same game. I bet they don’t want to pay $45 to be over lorded by a bossy bitchy USTA captain hell bent on personal glory, and not on growing the game. Commish bets they don’t want that so they can be bullied into going to every practice for the hope of maybe playing two matches, if and only if they are seen as a player who can contribute come playoff time. Commish bets that those players who scurry around like uncommitted cockroaches all over town to play on three teams in the same season, in order to be sure to play some, then find themselves over committed and burnt out are not the future of the game. That game is imploding.
Stop, Look and Listen More
You the reader, you might just be the person who can latch onto this. The most important thing you can know is that none of the strategies, messaging, marketing campaigns that millions of dollars were thrown at, worked. They didn’t work. Stop in your tracks. The new idea people, the my idea people, the put my mark, lay down my stamp people they are not actually the doers, but they are good at spending millions of dollars on websites, slogans, logos, and finding minions to peddle their wares, except that it doesn’t work, it never worked, and it won’t work. What works? Ancient wisdom.
Hear The Ancient Words
The Golden Rule works, treating others like you want to be treated. Accept every player, give them the amount of attention they want or need, not based on looks, ability, or dollars, but based on them being one more human being in the greatest sport. So you the hand wringing, position justifying, work log filling person out there, get to work. The awesome graphics in the email that you spend all day crafting that was opened by less than 25% of recipients, and most of those accidentally with a click through rate around 1%, you are NOT getting it done. Press the flesh, meet the people, really listen to the person on the phone, build the relationships with all tennis stakeholders, not just the ones you can brag about later at the water cooler.
I hear that the grand poobah’s of tennis have said that you should ignore the noise, but we/they have something to say. You didn’t grow tennis, you haven’t grown tennis, you won’t grow tennis. The foot soldiers have always grown the game even when the larger organizations have done everything they can to profit from it. It’s like they never read Aesop’s fables, you know the Goose and the Golden Egg. Back in a board room, the big brains of the sport are mouthing words that seem inspired by altruistic concerns for the game they claim to love, except that at their core, at the core of their being, the total focus, the unspoken truth, the stuff they don’t want you to know is that there are two things that motivate them: Profit Centers and Personal Glory. They want their name on the trophy, they want a magazine to call them a hero while having presided over incredibly weak growth numbers, while they actively and passively sabotage the Goose. They are going to get that extra egg to show something on the P and L, even if that animal doesn’t survive. It’s the way of corporate America, come in, flip something, turn an imaginary profit, get the bonus, move to the next place.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Right now, be loud, proud and get people into the game. Bring them into something. Give them a ‘Cheers’ experience, learn everyone’s name, introduce them to friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and future wives and husbands, and scrape them off the court when they die doing the thing they love!
Create drop-in social play that cannot be violated during the prime hours of operation.
Manage and cut back on league play, make it a premium, a privilege, and something that people get value from not just maybe two matches a season.
Do Cutting Edge Technology
Take a sincere interest in the healthiness of recreation
Show concern for the fears of your people.
Don’t do this:
Allow your club to be overtaken by USTA programs that gobble up court space from all the new players who just want to have fun.
Look at players and judge them by their relative athleticism and likeliness to bring glory to you or your club.
Make everything about profit.
Work to please your overlords, for the sake of winning the QuickNetLittleTennis champion of the universe award.
Work with people, befriend them, make them family, love them see the game explode.
Tennis Club Business is the only tennis business newsletter that calls out the failed policies and programs of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 17 USTA Sections, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Our motto: MAVERICKS DON'T TOE THE LINE.