What Off Season?
by Sean Randall | January 2nd, 2006, 5:15 pm
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Happy New Year to all. May your 2006 be healthy, successful and of course, full of tennis.

Tennis is one of those rare sports which basically begins with the New Year. Unfortunately for the pros, the year ends in November, and for some in December making the off season a bit on the short side.

So if it seems like the tennis season just ended it’s because it really did. Croatia won the Davis Cup just 30 days ago to mark the official end to the 2005 season. That gives those players a month or so of off season. Ouch!

Given that, the players have long complained that the sport needs a longer off season, and they are right! Again, for those in the Davis Cup final you get 30 days of off season. If you make the year-end championships, which lasts into late November, you can get 45 days. And if you end your season entered into the last tour event, which usually falls in early November, you can get up to 60 days of free time.

So how does the tennis off season compare with other sports in the U.S.? Well… Let’s just say, not too good!!

In baseball (MLB), the season ends roughly November 1 with the World Series and starts back up April 1. That’s 5 months of off season.
In football (NFL), the season ends roughly February 1 with the Super Bowl and resumes on September 1. That’s a whopping 7 months!
In basketball (NBA), the Finals ends roughly July 1 and the new season begins November 1. That’s 4 months.
And in hockey (NHL), when they are playing the season ends mid-June and resumes mid-October. That’s 3 months!

Clearly tennis players are getting short-changed in the off season department compared to the “Big Four” U.S. sports. But let’s look at a few more sports and see if there is one with a shorter off season.

In golf (PGA), the official season ends in early November and resumes January 1. That’s two months, but hey, IT’S FREAKIN GOLF!
In NASCAR, the season concludes in mid-November and begins in mid-February. That’s 3 months.
In soccer (MLS), the season ends in mid-November and begins April 1. That’s 5.5 months.

Wow! Even the golfers get more time off then the fellas who play tennis. Granted in tennis, like golf, and unlike team sports, players can choose to end their season earlier if they wish. If a player like Andre Agassi doesn’t want to play in October, he really doesn’t have to. Plus in team sports, they usually show up 45 days prior to the start of the season so baseball players who play in the World Series don’t really get 5 full months off, more like 3.5 months. Still pretty good.

So the next time you hear a tennis player complain about having no off season, well, no you may understand his pain. Fortunately for us tennis fans, a short off season simply means more tennis! Enjoy!

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