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Tennis - The Biggest Show on Earth

By Dr. Jay Bewley, Ph.D., USPTA, USPTR
Thursday, September 4th, 2003
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The U.S. Open this year is missing some past performers that have made it quite memorable. Pete Sampras retiring and the Williams sisters' being injured will ensure new winners. But, as they say, the show must go on! Being the biggest show on earth is certainly open to subjectivity, but before you decide, take a look at these numbers and decide for yourself.

In 2002, attendance was 628,738. This number makes it the single largest-attended annual sporting event in the world. If you want a good seat, you better be willing to spend some bucks. Some of the best seats are in one of the 90 luxury boxes. You can get one for two weeks if you have over $100,000 sitting around. Of course, you may need that to buy a hot dog and a coke, as well.

CBS is reporting close to 54,000,000 viewers that are tuning in to the coverage. A record of over 30,000 cumulative hours of tennis is broadcast to 163 countries. This TV time must be precious, because CBS pays over $30,000,000 each year for the rights to cover it.

Prize money this year is over $17,000,000! This is the richest purse in all of sports. Think about this. There is a check for $1,000,000 for the men's and women's single champion. Not bad for two weeks of work! Even the loser gets $500,000! I don't think their banker will be too unhappy if they come in second. Looks as though there is no limit. No wonder John McEnroe is always angry, his check was only $39,000 when he won is first U.S. Open.

Over $420,000,000 is pumped in to the New York economy because of the Open. This is more than any other annual sports or entertainment event in any city in the U.S. The only other U.S. sporting event that brought more money to an area was the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

This kind of revenue creates business and employment for many. Close to 11,500 full-time equivalent jobs are created directly or indirectly because of the U.S. Open. I'm glad these jobs are not going to Mexico.

The USOpen.org website reported close to 5,000,000 visitors and over 1,500,000,000 hits. That is almost as many hits as the Yankees get in a given season.

Revenue generated for the USTA will exceed $150,000,000. In business, they call this a cash cow. But this is more like a stampede! Maybe they could invest in a retractable dome and some tarps for the courts.

The numbers behind the Open are certainly impressive, but there is something much more impressive that goes on between the lines. In tennis, the players are all alone on the court. No one shares in the glory or the blame. There is no teammate to pass off to if your not playing up to par. The players must remain in full-view of spectators, regardless of how they perform. Without a doubt, the players will step up to the challenge and there will be some incredible performances to remember.

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