In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with hundreds of millions quarantined around the world, sports fans are starving for live sporting events. Tennis fans are amongst those missing their favorite sport.
Enter news of a masterstroke from golf. Organizers have announced plans for a made-for-TV live event featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. With the cancellation of Wimbledon in 2020, tennis should jump on this train with a few live, fan-free TV events of its own. Perhaps shooting for June makes sense, when the crisis is projected to have abated for a time, and to fill the void left by the Slams.
Why not talk about it?
This is a low-risk opportunity for tennis to get people hooked. Not only could something like this showcase the big-draw GOATS like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, but these events could also be a chance to introduce the broader sports world to some of the game’s compelling and quirky personalities on the rise. Think Coco Gauff, Daniil Medvedev, Ashleigh Barty and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
There’s only so much Tik Tok videos and streaming of old shows one can take. The crave for something live is there. Tennis should seize this time. Calling IMG. ESPN to the white courtesy phone, please! ATP, WTA, Tennis Australia, LTA, FFT and USTA, come together and talk about the possibilities.
Organizers of the Woods/Mickelson golf event say the foursome will use social distancing. Tennis could do that as well, even setting an example– showing amateurs best practices for low-risk play as the world transitions out of the apex of the pandemic.
Chance to heal the sport
Even before the coronavirus hit, the sport of tennis has been fractured. Some lower-level tournaments have skimmed a virtual net cord of profitability and even existence. Now’s the time to get all those power bases in tennis talking together at the same… zoom meet-up. These events would be an opportunity to begin a dialogue about what’s best for the sport. Stubbornness and profiteering would have to be put aside to get a deal done. Sacrifices would have to be made. The world is in the mood for that right now anyway.
The golf event will be done for charity. Tennis should begin that way as well. Perhaps money from future events could be used to patch up tennis– a classic sport with very relevant future.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to discuss it.