Game, Set, Mismatch: Why Tennis Is Such An Unappreciated Sport To Gen-Y

by Francisco Alvarez

When I was 14 years old and just picking up a racquet for the first time, I heard the most fascinating definition of the game of tennis:

"Tennis is a 100 mph chess match." — Gabriela Sabatini

Still, to this day, that vivid description has stuck, and it continues to intrigue me.

Tennis is often referred to as "the sport of kings."

It can be traced all the way back to France in the 12th century, but it wasn't until the mid-16th century that it gained popularity as a result of King Henry VIII playing in his very own Hampton Court.

One can argue that a sport with such antiquated beginnings may not be appealing to Gen-Y.

We live in a world where what you see is what you get, and tennis just doesn't cater to the masses the way other sports do, such as football, basketball and baseball.

What do those sports have in common? They were born in America. Tennis was not.

It's easy to see how the game of tennis can be seen as the outcast in the wide world of sports.

Only a chosen few make the decision to play tennis, compared to the plethora of athletes in other sports, and there are a few reasons for that.

Tennis is not easy.

Names like Serena Williams may ring a bell, and I can assure you her success has nothing to do with luck.

I like to think that when we grow a passion for something in life, we'd like to reach the upper echelon.

In order to make it in professional tennis, you need to be one tough cookie. Unlike most sports, tennis players don't sign league-based contracts. That means their success isn't guaranteed.

A baseball player can bat .250 on average while making little to no errors defensively and still earn his millions. A basketball player can average 25 minutes, 10 points and 3 assists a game and also earn his cash.

A football player can average 15 snaps a game, make 3 tackles or score a touchdown once every four games and collect his paycheck with no hesitation.

A tennis player, on the other hand, doesn't get to eat if he or she isn't successful.

Additionally, tennis isn't a team sport. There is no coaching allowed during matches, no substitutions, and if your forehand isn't working that day, you're screwed.

When it comes to activity and travel, organizations such as the NFL, MLB and NBA concentrate mostly on North America. Meanwhile, as a tennis player, you have to travel the entire world just to have the chance to make a living.

Next thing you know, you're dealing with purchasing plane tickets, scheduling conflicts and jet lag. To make matters worse, it's safe to say only the top 100 players in the world are actually making more money than they're investing.

Tennis isn't for the faint of heart.

Tennis is expensive.

If you decide to become a professional, collegiate or even a recreational tennis player, make sure to bring your wallet. Tennis, along with racing and golf, is one of the costliest sports on the planet.

Not many Millennials are up for forking over massive amounts of money in order to follow their tennis dreams.

Let's face the facts: In general, a good racquet will run you about $180; strings (which don't last very long) may cost upwards of $25 each; a can of tennis balls averages at $5, depending on where you purchase them.

These are all recurring costs. When you include gear, court fees, lessons, memberships and tournament inscriptions, you're looking to refinance your mortgage or take out a loan.

As I mentioned earlier, tennis is expensive, and it's even pricier when you have to finance your dreams alone.

Many players have sponsorships that help them keep the dream alive, but once that cash flow stops coming in, you can get stuck.

A lot of tennis players have given up the pursuit of winning the US Open because they've racked up debt, can't afford plane tickets and simply have other economic priorities to attend.

Tennis isn't as marketable.

In order for a product or service to succeed, the world has to know it exists.

Similarly, the sport of tennis can't really compete with those other organizations that are constantly at the forefront of the athletic world.

Yes, the sport has made strides by striking lucrative deals with stunningly beautiful players, and it even has its own television channel readily available.

At the end of the day, tennis is no match for the sports that attract the most viewers to events, such as the Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Finals.

Money speaks volumes. Tennis can't measure up with the likes of other sports, and if you can't have that outreach, it's difficult to appear relevant, much less popular.

Tennis may seem like the sport for the wealthy and famous, but that reputation will never fade unless the Average Joe starts hitting the ball around with his friends.

So, pick up a racquet, call some buddies and reserve a court.

Who knows? You might like it.