THE SIZE OF THE ELEPHANT ON THE COURT (127)

There are some new terms floating around on the American college/university sports scene. Two that are linked are “The autonomy movement” and “The Power Five”. Perhaps a clarification is in order. Boiled down in simple terms, these will mean money is now in charge of college sports. Who knows how it will all unfold. Speaking for my sport, tennis, and others non-revenue sports, (aka everything other than football and men’s basketball) this may not be all bad. Here is another disguised new term: “Preferred Walk-on”. Simple definition? “We prefer not to give you a scholarship”! Or, “does not play”. Rare exceptions granted, those six to seven guys at the end of the bench don’t play much basketball, and get less money than that playing time. The same is true in college tennis. The money goes to the top six or seven players. And more to the one player than the sixth. Stated simply again, the aid flows to the top of the lineup. At the end of this article there is a link to recent column from the New York Times. It professes a commitment on the part of the USTA to college tennis. What is not included in the column is the enormity of American college tennis scholarship aid given to international players. Though I am somewhat encouraged by the mood today, it is late in coming and almost surely related to the abysmal lack of top pro Americans. This, in turn, affects the whole health of the game of tennis in the USA. I have fought this imbalance since 1970. Look the recent blog articles and the books I have written. But I’m about “out of gas”. I am firing me last bullets. And I write this hoping some younger tennis enthusiasts will jump in the fray. It ain’t easy. But youth is a great advantage. AND TECHNOLOGY. My sons say I’m on the other side of the digital divide. But I’m savvy enough to know the data is there to expose just how rampant the discrepancy is. The college season is drawing to a close for 2014/2015. All divisions (NCAA 1,2,3 and JUNIOR COLLEGES, and the NAIA) have playoffs with a conference, then regional, then national tournament. Here are some technology available data worth examining: 1. Remember the “preferred walk-ons of tennis (most often Americans) get little aid. Therefore when examining the percentage of aid given to internationals check school websites for hometowns of the top six people that play in “big matches”. Example: Four of the top six are international? 2/3 of the aid goes to those guys! 2. What are those percentages for the top ten teams in all divisions. Want a real shocker? Check that stat for the last ten years. Women too. 3. What are those percentages for the conference, then, regional, then national winners. The higher you go, the higher the percentage. Betcha so! 4. Here is another kicker: Conference,Regional, and National tournaments will have awards (team champs, runner-up, all-conference, all-regional, all american, mvp, freshman of the year. Check where these hail from. Americans rarely are on those lists There is a lot to be learned. I don’t have any skin in the game now. Just a love for the game and our kids. Hoping for a “worker-bee” disciple. LET ME KNOW AND GOOD LUCK. nytdirect@nytimes.com (REMEMBER TO CHECK THIS)

KOO-KOO-A CHOO, MRS ROBINSON (126)

America anointed its new hero yesterday in Augusta. What a jewel Jordan is. Know where he was June 3, 2012? Helping his college teammates from the University of Texas win the NCAA golf championship. Yep–he went to college for 3 semesters before going pro. Guess what—he had a golf scholarship. Would he have gone to college without a scholarship? Ask him. Lots of Longhorns in the crowd at Augusta. Suppose that year and a half did him any good? Didn’t keep him from a pro career, did it?

Good guess is how long before America has its Jordan Tennis. Might take a while when 80% of the top tennis team’s tennis scholarship aid goes overseas.

DUH

BOOKIE ? (124)

The NCAA made it a violation to have inter-office bets on the “March Madness”basketball tournament. Up until then I took upon myself to manage our “bracket bet”. We had about thirty coaches on the staff, various sports (16 at that time). A secretary won every year. Our lovely Doris Gilliam, the senior secretary, picked Cleveland State over Indiana University when the Hoosiers were #1. She didn’t know who Bobby Knight was. The BRACKET BET(S) have many variations. The phenomenon has even spawned an interesting book entitled “BRACKETOLOGY”, BY Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir. They have a contest for all kinds of topics, including “top tournament moments”. Or Laettner over Texas Western. (9/11 over JFK, or Jock Films with Raging Bull topping Field of Dreams. Get it now? John McGuire, Al’s brother, is the best gambler I have met. John concluded “…nobody knows anything.” I wrote an blog on golf gambling for “geezers” (see Blog 77). Rick Reilly’s book, ” Who is Your Caddy’ has a delightful chapter on Dewey Tomko (of TV poker fame), and a gang of hilariously inventive golf gamblers. Check it out. This year we concocted our own “March Madness” bet. We call it NUMBERS AND BUMPERS. Ii is based on choosing the right option for the ending score and the numbers involved. The rules are below: DRAW (BY CHANCE) FOR ORDER OF CHOICE, OR OPTION. CHOICES: FIRST: NUMBERS A. 6 B. 7 C. 8 D. 5 E. 9 G. 3 AND 4 H 1 AND 2 I, 3.  AND 4 NOW–BUMPERS ( IN DESCENDING ORDER THESE BUMPERS BEAT EVERYTHING ABOVE THEM) J. NO MATCH IN 4 NUMBERS (EXAMPLE: 75-64) K. O ANY WHERE AND ALL BETS ARE OFF, 0 WINS, UNLESS ANYTHING BELOW OCCURS. L. OVERTIME AND ALL BETS ARE OFF, OVERTIME WINS INCLUDING K.  OVERTIME WINS. UNLESS SEE M,N,O . M. 3 OF A KIND (66-56) N. 4 OF A KIND (55-55). NOTE; 4 OF A KIND BUMPS OVERTIME. 0. FINAL OPTION AND BUMPER: ONE POINT MARGIN, ANY SCORE, OVERTIME OR NOT. WINNER TAKE ALL BASED ON 4 DIGITS OF FINAL SCORE. EXAMPLES: 55-46, 5 WINS (5 IS THE NUMBER THAT APPEARS MOST). OR 76-70, O WINS. 76-70 IN OVERTIME, HOWEVER, OVERTIME WINS. 66-65 IN OVERTIME? ONE POINT MARGIN WINS FURTHER EXPLANATION. FUN PARTY BET. THERE WILL BE 4 FINAL NUMBERS IN THE GAME (UNLESS ONE TEAM SCORES 100 OR MORE POINTS, OR ONE TEAM SCORES LESS THAN 10. THIS DOESN’T MATTER). FROM THE NUMBERS IN THE FINAL SCORE, IF YOUR NUMBERS APPEARS MOST OFTEN ANYWHERE, YOU WIN IT ALL. FOR EXAMPLE DUKE DEFEATED GONZAGA 66-52. THERE WERE 2 SIXES. SIX WINS. WE BET 5$ PER CHOICE, PER GAME IN THE ORDER WE DRAW. COULD BET EVERY GAME. NOW THE KICKER. SOME CHOICE ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS. “NO MATCH” OR BUMPER J WAS THE WINNER THIS YEAR BY A 2-1 MARGIN. THE #6 WAS A 1/4 BET. THE CHOICES NEED TO BE HANDICAPPED, LIKE A HORSE RACE. I AM WORKING ON THE ODDS FOR NEXT YEARS TOURNAMENT. WHO WINS THE BALL GAME DOESN’T MATTER, JUST THE MOST OF THE 4 NUMBERS IN ANY ORDER. P.S. I HAVE SHOWN THESE TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE. ONLY ONE PERSON COULD FIGURE IT OUT. HE, WE THINK, IS A SAVANT. “THE NEXT BEST THING TO GAMBLING AND WINNING IS GAMBLING AND LOSING”….Jimmy” the Greek” Snyder.

FIFTY SHADES OF HONESTY (123)

My teams played in 28 national small college tennis tournaments. Most were in the NAIA (The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). The first I attended was in 1970. The Coaches Orientation Meeting began very early and I was a little late, thus seated in the last seat of a long row of tables and coaches.
As the tournament guidelines were presented and discussed, another latecomer settled in, right across the table from me. Nice old, rotund fellow. Smoking a cigar. I wondered who this guy coached? Not only that it wasn’t long that I noticed him drifting toward sleep, although the cigar stayed in his mouth. As the meeting grew longer so did the cigar ash, the sound of a low snore emerged from across the table. And then, as if impeccably timed, the jolly man farted,jarring the substantial ash downward to his shirt and tie. Eyes opening caught me staring at him. Then a wink, as being introduced as Mr.Al Duer, Executive Director of the NAIA. He walked to the podium and gave the same speech about the true value of, and outstanding thing about tennis, that he had given every year before–I was told. And the same as every year we qualified and he was CEO.
Mr. Duer lauded tennis for its ability to self officiate its own matches. Honesty no other sport attempted.
Certainly there were officials later on, but at that time we depended on each player to call lines on his side. To hire officials wasn’t affordable. And there were some stellar examples of honesty witnessed down through years. I seem to remember these more vividly as time passes.
None impressed me more than the behavior of Roland Thornqvist. In order to revisit this, go to BLOG 22 (Thornqvist and Sportsmanship). A call against yourself that could cost you the National Championship?
Memory is vague about a pro doubles tournament championship match that was similar. Essentially the question on a crucial point was did the ball touch the shirt of one of the players before sailing out? Those guys never said. I don’t remember their names. I remember Roland. Among other reason, he is the head coach of the Florida Gators Women’s tennis team. Success has followed him. Several National Titles under his belt. Maybe this years highly ranked team too. I witnessed a few. I have overheard this statement several times: “Thornqvist is the best college tennis coach in America.’

Being a North Carolinian and basketball fan, I felt a great pride and respect for Duke’s championship. And, no doubt the circumstances were quite different in the championship game, I couldn’t help thinking about Roland. And Mr. Duer’s speech.

Thus this hypothetical: As the referees replay the tape, over and over, Justice Winslow confides to Coach K,”…Coach, I barely touched the ball. But I did touch it.”

JOHN ISNER? (122)

NORTH CAROLINA’S JOHN ISNER IS THE TOP MALE TENNIS PLAYER IN THE NATION. NO ONE ELSE IS CLOSE. SADLY.
NOT LONG AGO THE WORD ON THE “TENNIS STREET” WAS “…IF YOU WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER, DON’T GO TO COLLEGE?
COUPLE OF QUESTIONS:
1. IF JOHN HAD NOT GONE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA AND MATURED AS A PLAYER AND PERSON OVER THOSE 4 YEARS, WOULD HE HAVE BECOME THE QUALITY OF PLAYER HE IS TODAY? ASK HIM.
2. IF HE HAD NOT RECEIVED A SCHOLARSHIP WOULD HE HAVE PLAYED THOSE FOR YEARS AT GEORGIA?
3. CHECK THE HISTORY OF OUR TOP TEN PLAYERS. WHAT PERCENTAGE HAD COLLEGE EXPERIENCE?
4. HOW MANY INTERNATIONALS WHO HAD AMERICAN TENNIS SCHOLARSHIPS ARE NOW PLAYING PROFESSIONAL TENNIS?

I CHECKED NUMBER 3 RECENTLY. BEST GUESS? 75%
I CHECKED NUMBER 4 ALSO. BEST GUESS? ABOUT 40.

NORTH CAROLINA MEN’S COLLEGE TENNIS (121)

The USTA (United States Tennis Association) states that 22% of American college men’s tennis scholarships go to internationals. That is a partial picture at best.
Keep in mind that total rosters include about 10-12 players and the better players start in the 1 to 6 positions. Quite often the lower ranked players play very little and therefore get very little scholarship aid.
A TOTALLY different picture emerges if one examines the percentage of aid that goes to the top players and how many of these get the lion’s share of 4 and one half men’s grants-in-aid.
The following schools are in North Carolina: Duke, UNC Chapel Hiil, Wake Forest, NC State, UNC Wilmington, Appalachain, Elon, Davidson, East Carolina, and UNC Greensboro. Our best teams.  If you examine these teams top players, the ones 1 thru 6, in important matches, statistics change.  Remember–the top guys get the scholarships.  COMBINED NUMBER OF INTERNATIONALS IN THE TOP SIX OF THESE SCHOOLS? — 33!   Six of these schools are state universities.  Number of North Carolina kids in the ten schools combined?- 3!  Final real statistic for tennis aid in our state this season/year? 91% international, 3% to our kids.  Want another probability–this is true all over, yet worse the further south you go.  TRUE TOO at NCAA 11 schools, NAIA, and Junior Colleges. Women too. Other sports also involved…Women’s golf soon to be impacted by oriental influx. There is a lot of undisclosed truth about all this.