Originally Published: September 4, 2009 12:17 a.m.
Roger Federer has earned more than $50 million dollars in prize money since he began his professional tennis career.
He's probably banked two- or three times that in endorsements.
Still, if ticket sales were to sink and sponsors pulled their money, there would be no choice but to reduce the prize money and pro athletes would be in big trouble.
If it came down to said athletes making as much as a school teacher, one could imagine the ones left playing would truly love what they do, much like the old days of amateur sports.
Luckily enough, the economy has shown a bit of progress lately and this slight upswing has kept main tennis tournaments with the top players involved solvent.
Let's get back to the organizational structure of how tennis players make their living, because it stinks.
How much is a tennis player worth week-in, and week-out? The way things work right now it's totally dependent on if they're winning or losing.
So the question comes back is if a player can develop quickly.
There's no doubt pro players who make it to the top-30 make a decent living.
The journeyman professional may make six figures, which sounds like a decent wage, until you add in expenses including travel, coaching, trainers and equipment, among others.
In professional tennis, you're only a good as your last win. So a drought or injury can end your career.
Contracted professionals say in baseball, basketball or football, have derived many benefits from a society that has spent a lot of tax-payer money within an infrastructure that's helped develop their skills.
High school and college institutes, shine in helping the big three sports develop athletes, while the smaller sports take a backseat.
Fair or not, that's just the way it is.
Can the tennis make some needed changes to help these talented athletes?
More money for development, maybe profit sharing for the top 500 players on the tour, a retirement formula and fee that each tournament feeds into for the ATA and WTA to regulate, and a fund that helps injured players during a time of need to survive might help.
All nice thoughts, but with all the different entities running tennis, it's a long shot.
Otherwise professional tennis will continue to be a dog eat dog world, which isn't so wonderful in giving these dedicated professional players what they try to give us, their best.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-445-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org