THE GUERRILLA BUREAUCRAT
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (JAWS)
To change an organization you need someone powerful within the organization to champion your cause.
My “cause” is American children and college tennis.
The problem is the decline of high quality players in America.
I am not alone. It is commonly discussed, but “… the wind is blowing but the trees ain’t moving.”
I was advised long ago, by the CEO of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS, having lost my argument, “,,,you are right, don’t quit!”
My guess is the missing link to convincing the “Gorilla Bureaucrat” is data.
To survey the issue of change someone has to collect the data (it is certainly there) which would take passion and funding.
Here is what I speculate and how I would begin to collect the data:
PREMISE : American tennis players would improve drastically if college tennis scholarships were not given predominantly to internationals.
1. Collect data (where, what, how?)
2. Where? The major divisions in college athletics are NCAA, 1,11,111, and NAIA (smaller colleges), men and women. Coaches, Athletic Administrators, Sports Information Departments, Conferences and National offices, local media, the USTA, The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), tennis publications, the players themselves.
3. What? EXAMPLES
***Rosters from the past. Top eight teams, top eight players’ homes. How many scholarships were awarded and to whom. Percentage of allotment awarded to internationals? State or private institutions.? How much to in-state players.
****Conference and National records: Who won the team titles and how many starters were American. Singles winners? Doubles winners. How many all conference selections went to Americans? How many All -Americans were American, year by year. Rankings year by year by the ITA (Their homes towns), Seeded players in National tournaments (homes).
4. How? The rub lies herein. Someone has to do the work. Someone is going to have to pay the bills. Who should? The NCAA and the USTA for sure. Private money from those who love tennis and our kids.
1. The first question is, is it legal to reserve a % of scholarships “off the top” for our kids? This will likely have to be litigated. Care enough about your children, to risk court action and expense, tennis?
2. You would eliminate some great international people and players. Them or us?
3. The quality college of tennis players would go down for a period of time. However my belief is the quality of American college players, juniors, and pros would eventually improve. And I am almost positive attendance at college matches would grow rapidly.
THE LINE CHART
The NAIA had a 1 foreign player limit in 1970. Once the door was opened wide it spread to all levels, men and women. And with other sports joining in, men and women.
Between 1970 and 2016 there have two stark developments. Scholarships for Americans have plummeted and American player quality has done the same. My chart on the issue would look somewhat like this. Facts would confirm nearly on the button (MY GUESS).
*****CHART (reflects two variables for the years from 1970 to 2016: (1) Scholarships to Americans at top tennis schools and (2) the quality of America’s top pros.
The tennis “boom” began in 1968 (“Open” tennis”). There were several nations that produced many great players in the next 30 years. The Australians, the Swedes, Spain, and certainly America. I have two blog articles posted on http://www.tomparham.wordpress.com, , that roughly lists Americans who were in some way influenced by American college tennis (blog 114), and year by year listings of the top ten pros (blog 113 ).
The other dramatic chart would be to compare top ten ranked American pros annually from 1970 until now. Name the top ten women today?
In the 70’s and 80’s the men’s number 6, 7,8 etc. featured names like Connors, McEnroe, Ashe, Tanner, Ralston, Riessen. Our top eight would have a shot at every major. For the last 5 years no American man has made it to round 3 in any slam. ***(Sam Querry just made Round 4 at Wimbledon).
Where are these guys? Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Jay Berger, Harold Solomon, David Wheaton, Patrick McEnroe, Todd Martin, John Sadri, Bob Mckinley, Brad Gilbert, Michael Pernfors, Peter Fleming, Clark Graebner, Brian Gottfreid, Dick Stockton, Charles Pasarell, Jack Kramer, Chuck McKinley, Bob Lutz, Rafael Osuna, Tony Trabert, Barry McKay, Frank Froehling, Vic Seixias . Cliff Richey, Brian Teacher, Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein, Paul Annacone, Elliot Telscher, Tim Wilkison, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Malavai Washington, Vince Spadea, plus many others.
***These people have had close ties to American college tennis. Some went on to coach in America and at American colleges. Many of these were internationals who came to American college tennis and honed their skills to the professional level. Most would not have done so without scholarships and the collegiate experience. Our Davis Cup team just lost to Croatia! There were fifty men who played on this year’s international Davis Cup zonal teams who were, or currently are, on American Collegiate rosters. No doubt with grants we subsidized. More clearly: We are paying them and training them to beat us. Reminds me of POGO (…we have seen the enemy and it is us!)
***My career began before Title IX and women’s intercollegiate tennis. As late as 1970 there were some women on men’s teams. The women followed suit as far as recruiting internationals. My knowledge of their players is limited, thus the article above comes from the men’s teams.
Conclusion: Is there a “Big Gorilla” who shares these concerns?
1. THE USTA? They have the money to go to court. Their mission is heavily oriented to our young people. It is the “United States” Tennis Association.
2. THE NCAA? They have money too, but their real efforts are toward big money sports. Would they risk a lawsuit? Are they “actors of the state?” The “National” Collegiate Athletic Association?
3. THE ITA? Would most of their members vote for American inclusion? They did one time!
4. MONEY? What if major private money wanted more Americans, Ameican quality players? Example? Oracle is now sponsoring college tennis. What if the CEO (Larry Ellison) felt strongly his funding should include significantly more American support?
5. TAXPAYERS? Nationally, state, local? Just another form of foreign aid, not trade?
6. INSTITUTIONS? Why is my donor money paying for them and not my kids. Isn’t this an unnecessary add-on to runaway tuition?
7. PARENTS? You wouldn’t offer my kid any help, yet your roster is totally international. And you often lose.
8. SMALLER SCHOOLS? When will Presidents, Athletics Directors, Trustees realize “we are just giving our product away”. The “arms race” in minor sports yields little, costs tons.
9. STUDENTS: My athletic fees are supporting those people? Are they helping with my student loan?
10. TEACHING PROS AND HIGH SCHOOL COACHES: No more kids taking lessons, buying products. No more kids going out for my team. Better kids electing other sports.
I also hope The National Federation of High School Athletics would weigh in with their concerns and data for not only tennis but all sports.