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The Model Is Broken: Revamping Tennis (With Potential Solutions)
Golf was forced to innovate quickly, tennis is next, and what new sports leagues can learn.
One look at this chart is all you need to see…
But this isn’t just a tennis problem — it applies to many other sports across the world.
Let’s Dive In 👇
Tennis vs. Traditional Sports
When you think of most sports leagues you imagine teams owned by billionaires and wealthy players.
Tennis has the opposite problem.
It’s extremely fragmented with different organizations acting alone:
ATP Tour (men’s)
WTA Tour (women’s)
International Tennis Federation
And while this makes it difficult for everyone — the players bear the brunt of this.
Take a look at rising superstar Carlos Alcaraz:
Despite being one of the most successful athletes in the world, Alcaraz earned $10M from tennis last year.
This is comparable to role players in the NBA, NFL, and MLB.
And don’t forget…
Carlos Alcaraz is responsible for his own expenses such as:
and a bunch more
Alcaraz does well in the grand scheme of things (and has the benefit of big endorsement contracts)…but most tennis players are in less than ideal situations.
Being completely honest…
Tennis has been lucky stars have risen in the ranks such as Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal.
One could argue more luxury in the form of guaranteed contracts and paid expenses might eliminate that “fight for survival” mentality…
But I think that would be overlooking the immense drive of these athletes — despite all the money, Lebron James never got comfortable with average.
Comparing Tennis to Other Leagues
We mentioned that tennis is extremely fragmented…
When you add all the tennis properties together — their revenues are substantial.
I think it’s fair to say they leave a bunch of revenue on the table by not being a unified organization.
Think about the:
documentary style opportunities
Fragmentation is not good for “sports” as a unified organization.
With all the new independent soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, and cricket leagues I think other sports may be in the same position.
What Can Tennis Do?
Individuals and executives on the business side of tennis know that a target is on their back.
Several players have said they would be fine with taking Saudi money after years of underpayment.
Last year, a group of players got together and launched The Professional Tennis Player’s Association + Winner’s Alliance.
It’s wild to think that tennis had no union/player representation for all these years and didn’t come together for more money.
We’ve seen record payouts in tournaments over the last few years…
But it still doesn’t address the main problem.
How do you create a sustainable system that allows players to rise the ranks without worrying about how they’re going to pay their next bill?
And even if this does get addressed…
Will payouts be around 50/50 like most other leagues?
Time will tell.
New racket sports like pickleball and padel have jumped right to the team model.
I’m curious to see if/when tennis comes together as one and revamps its fragmented space into something more cohesive.
Golf had no choice but to innovate — the Saudis forced their hand.
Tennis seems to be in a similar predicament.
With a bunch of new/emerging sports leagues popping up…there are a ton of learnings to be had over the last few years.
30-year tennis veteran John Butler joined the pod to expand upon this post.
He goes into detail about the problems he’s seen first-hand and several potential solutions (including a tiered-system optimized for revenue).
Check out the podcast episode here.
Definitely worth a listen for both entertainment and education purposes.
As always, I appreciate you tuning in!
We’ve seen a great surge in subscribers over the last month — so thankful to have all of you apart of the journey.
To building a better future in sports,