On the 7th of February Ike Leus (unknown to me) reposted my blog post “$100,000, a DREAM year, and nothing to show for it…” on the ITF Pro Circuit Facebook page with the following comment:
“This is hilarious… guy talks about finding a 100k sponsor who expects nothing in return. Then starts to rant that the ATP World Tour, WTA or ITF – Pro Circuits should fund players better. Tennis is a sport buddy, why should -> business <- organisations or country federations give full-coverage money to players when there is no depletion of new talent? If they fund them and they become top 20 they move to some fiscal paradise where the “funding country” rarely sees any of their initial investments back. If they would fund everybody, then ‘tennis as a job’ would become a new social welfare.”
Another guy, Rowland Charles Goodman, joined in with: “Sometimes analogies help to understand. Imagine that he wanted to build a factory to make a product. He has a sum of money. Should he make a business plan? Or should he build the best factory he can, and not worry that he has not enough money to fund the operation of the factory until it makes enough money to be self-funding? I guess he thinks the latter is best – you have to be the best you can? If you are lucky you can find more money – but more likely the project is killed off before it delivers – and all the money is wasted – just like he’s tennis player.”
Little do both these people know that I am NOT looking for a 100K sponsor rather trying to help the future players in this sport…
My response to them: “Ike Leus and Rowland Charles Goodman you are both missing the point. I am not currently trying to find a 100K sponsor so that I can go improve my very average ranking of 440 in doubles and 780 in singles. This blog post was a very simple EXAMPLE of how the system works. I am no longer playing professionally because I cannot fund myself, I played for 1.5 years and reached the above ranking. If you took the time to read ANY of my other posts or if you UNDERSTOOD that this was a hypothetical then I wouldn’t be making this comment. My point is the following: Give players like myself (as an example) and thousands of others more prize money at the lower levels so that they don’t need to quit at their highest ranking when they run out of money 1.5 years into it. VERY few guys break through to the top 100 within their first year on the tour. No matter how much the increase at lower level is tennis will never become a ‘social welfare’ like you mentioned. The sport is simply too tough (IF you were a player you would understand, but that doesn’t seem like the case) This brings me to tennis in 2014, modern day tennis, players NEED at least 3-4 years to give them the BEST chance to break through (if they have the potential) the only way to see that is if you are able to spend 3-4 years out there playing 20-30 tournaments a year in 5 different countries. I never once said that players at the lower levels should be making a living from the sport, by no means. I am saying that it makes the most sense that players that are making 1/4, semi and finals on a weekly basis can at least pay most of their expenses for the week. That way players will be able to survive, eat better, stay in nicer hotels (from a motel to a 2 star- I’m not talking luxury) etc. Back to my example in my post. Again, EXAMPLE (because I am no longer competing and will not benefit from any prize money increase), IF I had all the money in the world and made it to 150 in the world, a hell of an achievement in my eyes, I will still not come close to making a GOOD living from the sport. Yes it is a sport, Buddy, but are you telling me that a 429% increase in prize money since 1998 in Grand slams and a 0% increase in challengers and ITF future events makes sense? Is it good for the sport? and are the top 200 players the real top 200? I don’t think so based on the fact that hundreds of extremely talented players quit at their highest ranking because they run out of money. 90% of those players probably wouldn’t have made it to the top 100 regardless if the system was better or not but many players would have. If you still disagree with what I am saying, now that I have explained that this is not about me or about a sponsor, it is an attempt to see what can be changed to better the lives of lower level tennis players to give them the best chance to make it to the top – if they have what it takes. It takes 3-4 years in the modern game, very few guys make it top 100 in a year even if they have the talent and the money. SO why not make it possible for MORE players (guys making 1/4, semi, finals every week) not ALL players to make a LITTLE more money? They should have slowly increase the prize money over the years but they didn’t. Last thing, I am not benefitting from this ’cause’ in any way or form. By you having a go at me telling me I’m going on a rant is irrelevant to me because all Im trying to do is make players and people in general aware of the situation in professional tennis, you will be surprised how many people have NO idea. While doing that I thought it was worth trying to see what the response from the ATP and ITF will be. Many players as high as 20 in the world have reached out to me along with CURRENT ATP player council members. They all agree their is an issue and it has been spoken about in all meeting for the past 2 years but has been very challenging to change. Myself along with these players are trying to see what can be done to make a difference, not knowing if there is a solution or not. No need to attack the EXAMPLE i gave or have a go at me, this isn’t about me, its about tennis and the future players in this sport…”
I had no idea this post was up until someone emailed me a screen shot of it today. Thought it was worth sharing.