In business since January of 2014.
We call a spade a spade. We are not beholden to the USTA.
MAVERICKS DON'T TOE THE LINE!
USTA'S SECRET DATA GRAB
Did you know that they can grab your idea or your product and do it themselves
without you seeing one red cent?
By Rich Neher
For years now I have written about the USTA and their inability to always do the right thing when it comes to their core mission which should be growing the game, right? The main issue I keep repeating over and over again is the frivolous way the organization's executives are spending money. And I don't only mean wasted dollars on Net Generation ($50Mio - a program that is neither well utilized nor too popular among tennis professionals and club owners) or the Player Development department (hundreds of millions over the last 20 years with absolutely no significant results.) I don't even want to go back to look at the money spent on failed initiatives like the "Tennis Welcome Center."
Another item very high on my list of frivolous spending is USTA executive salaries, bonuses, pensions, travel, and meeting expenses. Also, something that needs to be pointed out is the fact that the USTA does not get rid of ineffective leaders because of that 'Good old Boys' system where people just have to put their time in and then get almost tenure for life. Best example is Kurt Kamperman, an old industry warhorse who worked just about everywhere before joining the USTA. He and Gordon Smith were single-handedly responsible for the shrinking of tennis in the last 10 years, totally hypnotized by a "snake" called pickleball. What does the Board do? They gave him a lateral move at full salary, paid for him AND his secretary to move from White Plains to Orlando, and let him keep doing whatever he did all week long until he retired at the end of 2020. A typical example of cronyism to the highest level.
Since TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS is the only publication willing to point out abuses and failures of our governing body of tennis, we have to keep the pressure up month after month. The big issue I'm sinking my teeth in right now is data abuse. USTA executives are always eager to use the organization to make money. That could, of course, be a good thing as long as this money is being used to growing tennis in the United States. But that is not always the case. In my experience, gained by watching executives, listen to their statements, and reading their press releases, there are only three items they are using any kind of revenue for (besides their contractual obligations to the sections.) Everything else is window dressing, such as the USTA Foundation, etc. Here are the three items:
1. Growing the US Open
A popular and successful US Open probably means bonuses for executives but most certainly means the ability to give away Box seats and President's Box invitations to friends, cronies, and businesses. I'd love to see a year when 100% of all President's Box tickets are being awarded to kids, regular tennis players, tennis professionals, league captains, owners, and staff of non-profits in underserved communities. Let the sections make those selections according to their size.
2. Growing executive salaries and pensions
Sad to say, but a non-profit where few of the executives make less than 500K and some over a million a year, is acting frivolously and should have their non-profit status revoked.
3. Throwing money at unsuccessful programs
Some people may say they're doing it 'because they can' but I don't agree. Look at Player Development. A Grand Slam nation that hasn't produced a male Grand Slam winner in decades? Can't have that. And, besides, after spending over $200Mio on PD in the last 10 or so years, what's another 23 for 2021?
Or look at Net Generation. Brought to us by the man from Australia, Craig Morris. Very quickly after he was hired and introduced NetGen he was promoted and took over Kamperman's job as Chief Executive, Community Tennis. Now, Morries may be sharper than Kamperman, but he certainly is a good talker. After all, he talked the Board into funding a $50Mio boondoggle. And they have to keep spending because a) it's Craig Morris, hellooo! b) never admit a failure no matter how much money had been lost.
Okay, let's get to the DATA GRAB. The number of ways the USTA can monetize tennis are limited. So many things have been tried in the past but the only reliable moneymakers were always the membership fees (small, though) and the US Open. I remember discussions about charging for a player's NTRP number in hundreds. Didn't go anywhere. Charging more for memberships was getting off the table lately. It seems they are planning to drop the charging for membership completely very soon. Boom! Another $30-40Mio gone. How should they replace those funds at a time when the success of the US Open cannot be guaranteed anymore? One more Pandemic and the USTA probably sees all their reserves wiped out and has to fire half their staff in my estimation.
Other ways of creating additional revenues are being explored, of course. No doubt about it. There are two low-hanging fruits for the USTA: The worldwide betting ecosystem and other commercial entities hungry to get their share of the 'affluent tennis players' market. Yep, tennis players are considered affluent. College-educated, good middle-class jobs, homeownership, BMW or Lexus in the 2-car garage, kids in college.
But what do these two groups need more than anything else? Data, of course. And what does the USTA have more than many other organizations? Data, of course. Duh. It's a no-brainer.
Under 'Registration Data'
Nice, eh? You are giving your data to entities you have no idea existed and there's nothing you can do about it. But wait, it gets better:
Any information or materials you transmit, upload or otherwise submit to any USTA Family of Companies site (including, without limitation, comments, reviews, postings to chat, email messages or materials directed to any Forum, as the term is defined below) or any creative suggestions, ideas, notes, drawings, concepts or other information sent to the USTA via our Web site, through any USTA social media page, app or other means of transmission or delivery, shall be collectively referred to as "Submissions." If you transmit or otherwise deliver Submissions to the USTA Family of Companies, you grant the USTA Family of Companies a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable (or the longest period permitted under law) license (with the right to sublicense and assign) to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and display, transmit, make, sell, create derivative works from and distribute such Submissions or incorporate such Submissions into other works in any form or medium and through any means or modes of distribution or technology now known or hereafter developed. You hereby agree and represent to the USTA Family of Companies that you own or have been granted the necessary intellectual property and other rights in the Submissions (including, without limitation, a waiver of any applicable moral rights) to grant such license to the USTA Family of Companies, that no such Submissions are, or shall be, subject to any obligation of confidence on the part of the USTA Family of Companies and that the USTA Family of Companies shall not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Submissions. Without limitation of the foregoing, the USTA Family of Companies shall be entitled to unrestricted use of the Submissions for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without compensation to the provider of the Submissions. You agree that no Submission made by you will contain libelous, abusive, obscene or otherwise unlawful material and you acknowledge and agree that you are exclusively liable for the content of any Submission made by you.
Wow. Are you getting this, folks? You think you have a great idea and have big plans how the USTA could put it in motion and maybe let you participate financially? Or you have a product you think the USTA would be able to utilize for the good of tennis? Think again. It says, "If you transmit or otherwise deliver Submissions to the USTA Family of Companies, you grant the USTA Family of Companies a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable (or the longest period permitted under law) license (with the right to sublicense and assign) to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and display, transmit, make, sell, create derivative works from and distribute such Submissions or incorporate such Submissions into other works in any form or medium and through any means or modes of distribution or technology now known or hereafter developed." They can grab your idea and your product and do it themselves without you seeing one red cent. Let that sink in.
Is it maybe time we tell people to stay away from USTA websites? Do you now understand why our governing body of tennis needs (at least one) watchdog to keep them honest? I'm not saying it's a bunch of crooks but, to tell you the truth, as a Country Club Tennis Director put it so succinctly, "...they come pretty close."
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