Let’s Make American Tennis Great Again
– 5 minute overview, 10 minutes questions after my overview
– Today I will focus on a proposed solution … if anyone would like to talk more about how we ended up in this position, I’m happy to answer those questions over a beer after my allotted time today.
Over the past 35 years, the number of top ranked US players has declined drastically. For example, right now there are zero top 10 ranked men in the ATP, and two in the WTA. By comparison, in 1970, there were x men and x women in the top 10. Additionally, we’re giving approximately 7,000 scholarships a year (~$200m/year) to international players. In comparison, the USTA spends $18m/year on player development.
What if we invested these resources into American tennis players? Would we see a dramatic increase in top ranked players in the next 10 years? Either way, we will have allocated tens of thousands of scholarships to young Americans, investing over $250m in educational resources into the US economy. Let’s build a coalition of supporters of American tennis to test this theory. Our goal is the adoption of a new policy by the NCAA that requires 70% of men’s and women’s scholarships to be allocated to US citizens over the next 10 years.
We expect to see a 300% increase in Americans in the top ten men’s and women’s worldwide rankings by 2027 (ten years).
Accomplishing our goal
Today we are all here as leaders in the American college tennis community. We have the potential to build a grassroots coalition of likeminded supporters of American tennis. Once we determine our strategy, we can leverage our collective relationships to determine the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of our campaign. We’ll start by privately approaching Tim Russell, CEO of the ITA privately, and understand the ITA Board’s concerns with our proposal. Once we have their support (or opposition), we will reach out to the ITA coaches to help us demonstrate their support for our proposal. We’ll state the potential benefits and consequences of this policy shift, and petition the NCAA to make the changes. If they refuse to consider our proposal, we’ll explore a legal approach.
The first question is, is it legally possible to reserve a percentage of scholarships for US citizens? We may need to hire a legal expert to determine the complexity of our proposal if necessary. We need to understand the incentives of the ITA Board, the ITA members, NCAA, or USTA have an incentive to incur the cost of fighting this proposal. We should address any negative consequences in our proposal. For example, we understand that we would eliminate some great international players (and scholars) from our institutions. It is also probable that the overall quality of competition would decrease in the near term, and that this could put some smaller college programs at risk. Finally, there would be a decrease in the “diversity” of students in our higher education institutions. We are willing to take these risks.
Determine the right legal and financial structure to support this campaign. Is there an existing non-profit that we could leverage as a fiscal sponsor to move more quickly?
Start a coalition of supporters to staff and fund this campaign. Establish a working leadership council with clear roles and responsibilities, and a decision making process.
Identify an internal or external program manager with campaign experience and strong relationships in the ITA to plan, manage, and execute our campaign.
If we face resistance from the ITA or NCAA, we will need to hire a legal team experienced in NCAA policy and laws to litigate this proposed change.
Identify the ideal leader for the campaign coach.