September 19, 2013

"They said what?"

From Tennis.com
They Said What? The Missing Hispanics
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 /BY PETER BODO
TAGS: They Said What? 
“Tennis is hugely popular in South America and Spain, Rafa [Nadal] is an international star, and yet, Spanish-speaking kids here are not choosing our sport. We should have huge numbers of Hispanic kids playing tennis in places like Miami, Southern California, New York and Chicago, and we don’t.”—Patrick McEnroe, head of USTA Player Development [and brother of John McEnroe], quoted by Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald. 
I’m a little reluctant to call this a “problem,” because as much as I like tennis, I’m not sure the biggest issue facing Hispanics in the U.S. is a lack of homegrown ATP or WTA cannon fodder. But it is certainly interesting that, as McEnroe notes, even with tennis’ vast popularity in nations with large Hispanic populations and a deep pool of well-loved Hispanic players, few American Hispanics are on the USTA radar, no matter how far you go down the scale in sanctioned competitions. 
McEnroe went on to speculate: “My guess is it’s an economic issue, and a cultural issue. We are doing much better with African-Americans and Asian-Americans. I see lots of those kids playing at our regional centers, but very few Hispanics.” 

"They said what?"

I'm struck by how contemporary journalists feel the need to pretend to be shocked by people saying something non-boring. The rest of the piece goes on to discuss the question McEnroe brought up in a reasonable, if not very sophisticated, manner. It even gets around to mentioning Pancho Gonzales.

But, these days, you have to start by acting aghast. This is both prophylactic and clickbaity: It's controversial!

A friend said about a dozen years ago that noticing patterns about identity groups has become the New Pornography: people get to be shocked shocked and titillated simultaneously by somebody Noticing Stuff.

But it sure doesn't do much for the quality of thought.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

White Hispanics like tennis but most Mexican immigrants in this country and from Central America are not white Hispanics.

It's like Dominican Republic black-Hispanics love baseball, but that doesn't mean Mexican Hispanics are crazy about baseball.

Minnesotans(who are white) love hockey, but Somali-Minnesotans don't.

'Hispanic', like 'American', can mean anything.

Also, just because you like something doesn't mean you're good at it. NBA is very big in China, but how many great players came out of China?

Hypothetically, if 100% of Mexican-Americans were into football whereas only 20% of blacks were into it, there would still be a lot more successful blacks in football than there would be Mexicans.

It's like most blacks are not into tennis, but Williams Sistaz reached the top cuz they, as blacks, are simply stronger and faster.

Anonymous said...

Tennis is hugely popular with the white South American elite in order to feel superior to the lowly soccer-loving masses.

The next step, of course, is bribing Mexicans to care about tennis.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/046HfAUScEU?t=3m28s

Here's a Mexican sport that might be popular with Chicanos if legalized.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOntL_T9J2c

This is so Mexican. It's how Mexican government coaches its people how to jump the fence.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmuD-fBjDR4

A sports so great that the stands are filled--not.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Usy02IEn3ec

One sport Mexicans excel at.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcy1DTr5KDI

One genuine bright spot of Mexican athleticism.

Anonymous said...

"tennis’ vast popularity in nations with large Hispanic populations"

Is that true? Maybe tennis is popular with the small rich elites but tennis isn't the people's sport in Brasil, or is it? Other than Spain I don't think there is a Spanish or Portuguese speaking nation where ordinary people play tennis and have easy access to tennis courts.

I read the Argentine news now and again and find they really like field hockey down there for some reason. I bet they don't worry much about why there is so little interest in field hockey elsewhere.



Anonymous said...

Not sure if noticing patterns is a new "pornography." But there is a resemblance between the new witch hunters and the Victorian onanists than used to go around seeing evidence of onanism everywhere and prescribing treatment for 'hysteria.'

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvoxSkjvqsI

10 Questions for Wladimir Klitschko

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xl4WN4La18

mexican sport.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPLo9fGfl1c

Mexican sport of ridiculous fighting.

rob said...

Economists have their lump of labor fallacy, and I've tried to coin 'lump of immigrants,' but it hasn't taken off. I'll try again.

The lump of Hispanics fallacy: assuming that Conquistador-Hispanics have many cultural similarities to their maids and gardeners.

If we wanted a large fraction of Hispanics who happen to reside in the US to enjoy tennis, we should expel the gardener caste ones.

wwwww said...

Evonne Goolagong guess her race

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

One factor that's often overlooked regarding tennis and poor people is basic public choice with respect to community recreation facilities.

In the space for a tennis court you can also get a decent-sized full basketball court. The tennis court can entertain up to four people at once. The basketball court can entertain as many as 20 if two groups play half-court games.

The economics aren't quite as stark when comparing tennis to baseball or soccer, but tennis is still more expensive.

The maintenance is a bear, too. My hometown had a lot of public tennis courts in the 1980s when the sport went through a boomlet. Today, the courts are still there, but there aren't any nets on them. Too much money.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Am I reading this wrong, or do these people seem clueless that the average 'Hispanic' in the US is a five-and-a-half foot tall Aztec?

jody said...

he's been saying a lot of dumb stuff about tennis lately, with respect to this kind of thing. pretty sure he's right on the verge of saying all the best tennis players are in the NFL and NBA now.

mexico is not even that good at soccer, the number 1 sport in mexico both in terms of participation rate and spectator interest. so why would they have any effect on ATP play?

the mexican national team is close to not even qualifying for the 2014 world cup. and having 30 million mexicans in the US has not translated into lots of very good players on the US national team. 2 or 3 average players is about what you get.

i think MLS is certainly on track to pass liga MX in a few years. and MLS is the number 5 sports league in the US in terms of spectator interest, and soccer is the number 5 participation rate sport in the US, after football, track & field, basketball, and baseball.

the highest ranked mexican tennis player is miguel gallardo who is number 383 in ATP play.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Rankings/Singles.aspx?d=16.09.2013&r=0&c=MEX#

there are only 4 mexican players in the top 1000.

Auntie Analogue said...


Maybe if our Dear Rulers constructed tennis courts in all those parks that "hispanics" litter all to hell...?

How about installing tennis nets midway on the bridges over the Rio Grande? Mexico could serve a few thousand illegals over the net, and our ICE agents could lob deportees back the other way. Think of the television dollars such a spectacle would bring in! They could call it The Borders Open!

jody said...

"Is that true? Maybe tennis is popular with the small rich elites but tennis isn't the people's sport in Brasil, or is it? Other than Spain I don't think there is a Spanish or Portuguese speaking nation where ordinary people play tennis and have easy access to tennis courts."

argentina has 7 players in the top 100 including a top 10 player. so it's true there. probably not as true elsewhere.

brazil is not a hispanic nation. but speaking of brazil, tennis is more popular there than mexico. brazil has a lot of players just outside the top 100. i'm not an expert on the total sports scene in brazil, but the top 3 participation sports are soccer, volleyball, and basketball. brazil is not that interested in wrestling or boxing, and cares about judo and jiu-jitsu instead, certainly due to the japanese immigrant influence.

track & field is less popular in brazil than in the US but still popular, while swimming is more popular in brazil than in the US. golf is nowhere, brazilians don't play it, which i assume is also the case with rugby. baseball just recently appeared on the scene in brazil, and is perhaps also influenced by japanese immigrants.

RonMexico said...

These PMac comments remind me somewhat of J Klinnsmann commenting when he took over USA soccer that to improve, more "low class" (I understood it to mean inner city black and barrio brown) players were needed, rather than taking mostly white players from colleges and universities. The brown ones should have it in their DNA, and the black ones are better all around athletes. Don't know if USA soccer appreciated the candor, but I think Klinnsmann knows his game.

Anonymous said...

"noticing patterns about identity groups has become the New Pornography: people get to be shocked shocked and titillated simultaneously by somebody Noticing Stuff."

^I like the Huffington Post but they're especially bad at this. I'm not sure if the general public takes much interest in this stuff... my guess is that it's more directed towards young liberals of moderate intelligence.

countenance said...

I'm going to do my part in the pornographic campaign of noticing things, right now:

There's a difference between a white Spaniard and their white descendants in South America and brown-Chicano-Indo Spanish speaking people.

slumber_j said...

It should be pointed out that if even the great and lovely Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi don't particularly want their kids to grow up to be players, then maybe the "hispanics" are getting off light here. i.e. pro tennis is a shit sandwich more or less, at least according to this:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324183204578565400657393068.html

Anonymous said...

Am I reading this wrong, or do these people seem clueless that the average 'Hispanic' in the US is a five-and-a-half foot tall Aztec?

Welcome to The Dark Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...


Middle class Argentines, Chileans and Brazilians are quite into tennis, but Mexicans are not good at tennis. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

It's like most blacks are not into tennis, but Williams Sistaz reached the top cuz they, as blacks, are simply stronger and faster.

Well, that.

And the steroids.

Belisarius said...

I understand the confusion. I've always wondered why, although all the top dog-sledders are Anglos, the sport is completely unknown by the Anglos of Jamaica. The Jamaicans don't seem to understand that everyone in the world that speaks the same language is supposed to be into the same stuff.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, on Saturday morning a couple weeks ago I was surprised to find four non-conquistador Mexican guys playing doubles on the court next to mine. They didn't play all that well, but seemed to have a good time anyway.

Anonymous said...

track & field is less popular in brazil than in the US but still popular, while swimming is more popular in brazil than in the US. golf is nowhere, brazilians don't play it, which i assume is also the case with rugby. baseball just recently appeared on the scene in brazil, and is perhaps also influenced by japanese immigrants.
I don't think swimming is more popular in Brazil since they have way less pools and US has over a million competitive swimmers if you include summer league and college and Brazil only has about 10,000. Swimming is popular in Australia not Brazil. Brazil does have the best Latin Swimmers and in some parts of the US, Track and Field is no more popular than swimming. Orange County California has had few Track Stars but lots of Water Polo players and Swimmers make the Olympics but few Track people since it has a low afro-American population.

Anonymous said...

Brazil has the best Latin American swimmers but only 5 of their males are in the top swimmers in the world versus 50 for the US male swimmers. Brazil only had 2 swimmers that placed in the worlds. The US, Australia have the highest participation in swimming in the world. In fact Orange County mention previously has sent at least one swimmer to the Olympics since 1968 when Gary Hall Sr, the father of Gary Hall Jr went to the Olympics, Tyler Clary workout at Fullerton and now is working out at Michigan won the 200 meter backstroke and Clary from Riverside swam on the Fullerton team just like Janet Evans. All OC's great swimmers were white except Jessie Vasllino, the Puerto Rican top swimmer that work out in Mission Viejo and went to the 1984.

Anonymous said...

Brazil is more in volleyball than most places. In beach volleyball than had players in the finals and they usually do good in regular volleyball. Immrgant Brazilians back east in Ma played Volleyball.

Anonymous said...

Hypothetically, if 100% of Mexican-Americans were into football whereas only 20% of blacks were into it, there would still be a lot more successful blacks in football than there would be Mexicans.
Well, if you lacked blacks like some counties of So Calif there are more Mexicans that play pro than blacks in counties like San Diego.

Anonymous said...

Asians play golf a lot in high school. In fact in California they seem to dominate it in high school.

RonMexico said...

Anonymous 11:41, that was Jesse Vassallo, another Olympian screwed by Carter. I recall going to some meets down at the Marguerite Rec Center in early 80s and he was quite good. Not so much by 84.

sunbeam said...

RonMexico wrote:

"and the black ones are better all around athletes."

I kind of wonder about this. I think people have this perception because the big spectator sports in the US, sans baseball, stress burst speed. Incidentally the these sports have evolved to minimize the importance of any endurance aspect at all. (I don't think things like marathons and the Iron Man have a lot of viewership.)

Now most American Blacks come from West Africa. I've raised this point on here before, but either it interests no one, or no one knows much about it.

But as far as I know the West African population is the only one I have ever heard of that has the unique adaptions that enhance ability in events that require burst.

This ability seems to be tied to malaria resistance, as the recent book (forget the name) covering the subject indicates.

Now my question is this: assuming no other population on earth, a true statement as far as I know, what good exactly is this kind of athletic ability, outside of the very special hothouse of American sports entertainment?

No matter how many years of farming and civilization exist in our ancestry, we all come from stock that evolved to survive.

And no other population on earth evolved the same traits that enhance burst speed?

Kind of makes me wonder how useful it is in the world of The Law of Club and Fang (Jack London, a fine old socialist coined that phrase.)

Maybe the average Mexican is a better athlete than the average Black. Only thing is that you are looking at it from the jaundiced lens of what is popular as spectator sports in the US.

Philipp said...

Dear Steve

I am a regular reader of your blog and normally I enjoy your blog posts very much. I have learned a lot.

This time, however, you made a mistake. Pete Bodo uses the title "They said what?" very often in his blog. It simply indicates that this particular blog post will deal with a quote and his reaction to it. Mr Bodo will start his blog post with the quote and will then comment on it. If you check his blog, you will see quite a of this kind of blog post dealing with all kind of tennis-related topics.

Examples can be found here:

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/list/peter-bodo/

In other words, Mr Bodo did not use the title "They said what?" to indicate shock and horror but simply that he would write about a quote.

Keep up the good work!
Philipp

Anonymous said...

The nation continues to see a sharp racial divide in the incidence of poverty. In 2012, the Census Bureau reported that the poverty rate was 27.2 percent among blacks and 25.6 percent among Hispanics. For non-Hispanic whites, the 2012 poverty rate was 9.7 percent. For Asians, it was 11.7 percent.
Good Reason to think of a way to get rid of at least 5 million of the illegal immigrant population, they increase the Hispanic poverty rate.

Anonymous said...

"Today, the courts are still there, but there aren't any nets on them."

I'm sure I remember the Williams' dad saying that when they were little and used the public courts in Compton, he had to sweep the glass off court first.

(Which is also what you have to do on many public courts in very white parts of England)

Matthew said...

Tangentially, Michelle Kaufman is the third wife of humorist Dave Barry, whom she met at the Herald.

Anyone ever notice that Asians seem to pursue and do well only in non-team sports? Speed skating, gymnastics, tennis, track, cross country, tennis - the sports Asians do best in, none of them team sports.

virgil xenophon said...

Where to begin..

The reason for the lack of black participation in tennis and golf is mainly psychological, NOT sociological. True enough, the high costs of the two sports is part of it, as is the dearth of good public court instructors, and the country-club origin of both sports also a limiting factor, but these are not the real ones.

In the 70s I coached (my father is a hall of fame NAIA basketball and tennis coach circa '45-'75) USAF championship teams in both sports in the UK at the height of the "black power" movement in 69, 70, 71 My black point guard on the BB team was a sociology major and he and I used to often discuss/joke about the different playing styles/attitude/approaches to the game as between black and white players, etc. During one such discussion he asked me: "Coach, you know why there are so few brothers in tennis and golf don't you?" I replied by running thru the litnay of reasons as I outlined above, but he replied: "Those are all part of the reason, but there not the main one." "Pray tell, then, what IS the main reason?" I replied as I was stumped. "Well coach, you see in tennis and golf the fans have to be silent and the players eschew yelling, shouting and trash-talking. We blacks just love to play the fool and you can't do that in those two sports. THAT's the real reason you see so few brothers on the courts or on the links." LOL. (And this was before Ashe won Wimbleton in 75!)

Side note. Mexico did produce one Davis Cup tennis champion in the early 60s who attended USC, was an NCAA Champion and All-American and who later turned pro by the name of Raphael Osuna.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/here-are-the-10-biggest-us-cities-by-gdp-and-how-theyve-grown-since-2009/279833/