While I was researching tennis, I discovered it was practically impossible to find a solid article on my research question. I searched many books about tennis at the local bookstore and searched the web for hours and hours, and it was extremely hard to find three solid articles about my question. Then I thought more about it, and realized that this was a perfect example of how tennis is unnoticed by many people since it isn’t that popular in America (compared to other sports like basketball, baseball, football, etc.) Therefore, my question is: How did the origin of tennis and the media together, affect the popularity and stereotypes of Tennis in America today?
My first source, titled “The Origins and Early History of Tennis,” by Jeff Cooper, is about how tennis all started. I wanted to discover where tennis originated and see if that was a factor in its popularity in America. Cooper first discusses how tennis first began in the 12th century by French monks who “began playing a crude handball against their monastery walls or over a rope strung across a courtyard.” The game was obviously a lot different than it was today, and instead of rubber balls, they used wool or hair wrapped around in leather. It was reported that there were around 1800 courts in france by the 13th century. According to cooper, the game became such a popular diversion, both the Pope and Louis IV tried unsuccessfully to ban it. Eventually it spread to England, “where both Henry VII and Henry VIII were avid players who promoted the building of more courts.” This shows how tennis originated in European countries like France and England, unlike the sport football that began in America. Also, this article shows how tennis was played by those at the top of the hierarchy, for example the kings of England.
In my second article by D.K. Wilson, Titled “A Wimbledon Post-Mortem: Why Tennis Is in America’s Sporting Toilet,” talks about how the media is a main factor in why tennis isn’t popular in America. Wilson says, “Here in the U.S we can create a sporting hero for you in a 24-hour news cycle – or take a hero and make him into someone so hated that the mere thought of him causes thousands of people to spontaneously burn authentic replicas of his jersey.” Wilson then goes on to discuss how Serena Williams almost died several years ago from a blood clot, and her sister, Venus Williams, almost had to retire from the sport she’s been playing her entire life due to a severe illness, but they still managed to bounce back and win multiple grand slam titles (especially Serena who came back and claimed the number one ranking in the WTA). I am a die-hard tennis fan/player, and I watch every big tournament, and not once have I heard this story on the news about Serena Williams. Meanwhile, somebody like Jeremy Lin is ALL OVER the media because he is successful as a bench player on the NBA.
Finally, my third article discusses how tennis is actually one of the hardest sports in America, and internationally, even though it is seen as an easy sport by most Americans. The author of this article, Gary Emmons, discusses how tennis has the most all around athletes. “Another requirement of any fully rounded sport should be physical fitness. While most sports require a high level of fitness, unlike tennis they also offer rest during half-times, intermissions, and substitutions. Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, most sports feature lots of standing around: Actual on-field action amounts to only 18 minutes per contest in baseball and 11 minutes in football.” While on the other hand, men’s singles matches last around 3-4 hours on average, and with a lot less resting than other sports. The history and origin of tennis, involved with the media, play a big factor in why tennis is unpopular in America.
1st source) “The Origins and Early History of Tennis.” About.com Tennis. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
2nd source)Storify.” Storify. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
3rd source) http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2013/08/29/tennis-is-the-best-garry-emmons