According to US Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Participation Report released recently, tennis has the biggest participation growth than any other sport. In the period between 2000 and 2012, 31% more tennis players have committed to playing on a long-term basis than before.
It can be concluded that tennis is still by far one of the most popular sports in the world. Its viewership is steady and even sports bettors are loving it for their bonus codes. But, why isn’t it as popular as it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago? Did tennis lose something while it evolved? Are the players as flamboyant as they were in the last decades?
The 1970s was the boom for tennis. And although the 80s and the 90s may have contributed to its decline, those decades helped a lot in maintaining it on the same level at which it’s today. And the truth is that the factors that resulted in the 1970s “boom” will not be replicated ever again.
When it was decided in 1968 that professional tennis players could play at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments and make a living playing tennis, the game spurred interest like it never did before or even after that. Tennis no longer had the reputation of an isolated sport discipline practiced only by the rich.
A second very important factor from the “Boom Era” was TV broadcasting. As soon as it was opened to pros, TV stations showed interest in broadcasting tennis events. CBS was the first TV station that started this and was followed by NBC and then the rest.
This way the American public and the world were able to watch all the prestigious tennis events for the first time in their lives. Of course, this also sparked an even greater interest in tennis.
Today, we have internet and free TV, which means we can watch different sports, not just the tennis match that the one of the only two TV stations in the city offers on the program. Choice.
The Rest of the Factors
There were many other factors that contributed for tennis to explode too. Thanks to some of the more distinctive and unique personalities like McEnroe, Nastase, Evert, Billie Jean King, Navratilova and many other, tennis became awesome. They introduced new playing styles and revolutionized the sport like no one.
The level of professionalism was rising too, but the “wild west” situation in the 1970s and early 1980s when the athletes wanted to party and abuse alcohol or drugs, while the officials tried to determine what the professional standards would be for them made the players even more interesting for the press.
Finally, tennis helped the feminist revolution. Female tennis players were recognized as professional athletes so they could earn thousands of dollars for being as athletic as men. Today, this is not a novelty anymore as we are used to seeing professional female athletes in every sport. The conclusion is that the hype has gone, and will never be back like it was in the 1970s.