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A top coach argues that bureaucracy and centralisation have hurt US tennis


“When it comes to development programs, what we are really talking about is creating an environment within which gifted players have the best opportunity to flourish. When identifying these environments, the evidence consistently points to a committed, passionate coach teaching, guiding and mentoring a gifted player to a successful pro career. How, then, do we best ensure that such relationships are given the best opportunity to thrive in the future? First, it’s imperative to understand that tennis is a highly individualistic sport. Aside from a shared ability to win, the only thing that many of the great champions had in common was that they had virtually nothing in common. Nothing better illustrates this fact than the contrasting styles and personalities of some of the game’s great rivalries, like McEnroe and Borg, Evert and Navratilova, Sampras and Agassi, and Federer and Nadal. Incidentally, it’s a useful exercise to look at who the primary coaching influences were in the development of these players (John McEnroe – Tony Palafox and Harry Hopman, Chris Evert – her father, Martina Navratilova – Billie Jean King and I also understand that Tony Roche had an influence, Pete Sampras – Peter Fischer, Andre Agassi – his father and Nick Bollettieri, Roger Federer – Peter Carter, Rafael Nadal – Toni Nadal). Second, like players, coaches also have their own unique methods and personalities. The best ones are independent thinkers who wouldn’t survive for a second in a regimented environment, where they would be expected to ignore their own knowledge and conform to the dictates of a “one size fits all” approach. Can you imagine Wayne Bryan, Nick Bollettieri and Toni Nadal working within the confines of a stifling bureaucracy? With such a diverse range of players and coaches out there, it’s essential that players and their parents are free to determine for themselves who is the best coach. Any wider program or system must take this into account.”

Chris Lewis, who, by the way, is a big Ayn Rand fan. (Thanks to the SOLO Passion website for the pointer to the article).


3 comments to A top coach argues that bureaucracy and centralisation have hurt US tennis

  • Paul Marks

    Are government regulations and spending involved here? I know it is seems unlikely but these days, when even Baseball and American Football are POLITICAL matters, one can not just rule it out. For example, most universities (Hillsdale is one of few exceptions) are government subsidised and regulated – so their “sports programs” are really outgrowths of the government.

    It is hard to overstate the degree of statism in the modern United States.

    Most mortgages are owned by the government – so most people (not just those in “public housing”) are government tenants – via Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

    About half of all healthcare spending is already (even pre Obamacare)government spending – and the rest of healthcare is saturated by government regulations.

    Virtually every trade and profession is a government regulated cartel – thanks to “licensing” and so on.

    Education, old age support, accidents of life – all are dominated by government .

    And the entire financial system is a credit bubble joke (a bad joke) – with real savings being replaced by government monetary expansion and endless regulations.

    People talk of the Republic being replaced by an Empire – but it is more than that.

    This is not the Empire of Trajan or Marcus Aurelius – it is more like the Empire of Diocletian (although even price controls Diocletian would not have supported a monetary and financial system like this – still less that everyone all over the Empire should look to the government for education, health care, old age support…..)

    If any province (“State” – for the States are now treated as Provinces with no limits on the power of the Federal government) can really break away from this walking-corpse (without falling into the hands of the barbarians – and the barbarians do indeed exist, and there are many tribes of them) they would be wise to do so.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Paul, I am sure we are agreement that the US has fallen a very long way from its presumed classical liberal origins.

    Of course, if you point this out to the Left, they either deny it, because it is essential to maintain this false narrative of a “failed capitalist system”, or they might agree to an extent but then say that what America needs is even more socialism.

    Back to tennis: it is, indeed as Lewis says, an individualistic sport, and that might explain why you sometimes come across people who sneer at it for being the sport of “middle class” types and “suburbanites”. This is silly: even some more team-based sports encourage an element of flair and individuality inside an overall structure, such as cricket, football and rugby (all codes) at their best.

    Chris Lewis is, by the way, a tremendous person, it seems. I had forgotten about his 1983 final against McEnroe in Wimbledon.

  • Paul Marks

    Good points J.P.

    By the way…..

    If the left really believe that the United States is a hard core “capitalist” place – they should be HAPPY if places secede from it.

    As for the left’s second line “it is disguised racism” – what about States led by “people of colour” (such as the Governors of South Carolina and Louisiana) or States that had no history of slavery – such as the States of the West?

    Methinks the left are not sincere.

    The real problem is the later day versions of the enemies that the Romans faced in their latter days.

    The Romans faces the Persian Empire and the many tribes of barbarians.

    American States that break away would still face both the Chinese and the Islamic Empire – and the many tribes of barbarians who no longer press juston the Southern border, but now dominate schools as far north as towns in R.I.

    As usual it is not really “racial” – the colour of someone’s skin does not matter, what matters is their BELIEFS.

    However, changing the beliefs of people and their children is NOT going to happen in the modern the United States – going to school in the Progressive dominated government funded schools of modern times is going to make people worse not better.

    The Federal government does not secure the borders (indeed it persecutes private landowners who try and defend their property) it does not help “assimilation” either (it PREVENTS it), and it does not really stand against the Chinese and Islamic Empires (it borrows money from the Chinese and thinks the problem with Islam is a few “extremists” – not the LIFE and doctrines of Mohammed himself).

    The Federal government is a Clear and Present Danger to the people of the United States – and of the West in general.

    Not just wealthy people playing tennis (as if, and if only this was true, it was still 1948 in California – with Robert Heinlein living just down the road, and it being safe to go just about anywhere), but everyone.