Anyone who watched the NCAA final last night in which the Florida Gators pounded the UCLA Bruins has to agree that Joakim Noah is a freak. Why? The kid is, according to announces, seven feet tall and can run and jump like a gazelle.
Now imagine in tennis a guy taller than Dr. Ivo Karlovic who can run and jump as well as say James Blake. Or just imagine James Blake as a seven footer! Ha.
Joakim, who of course is the son of former French Open champ Yannick Noah, again showed last night why he is considered among the NCAA’s best basketball prospects winning the game MVP award. At seven foot, he can run as fast as anyone and can far out leap and out-wing (is that a word?) everyone on the floor. Simple put, seven footers aren’t supposed to do those things, but he does. While he may not have a true jump shot or a back to the basket game, in addition to those athletic skills he does posses some great hoops acumen.
And apparently, Joakim has already said he will stay in school at Florida and not opt to join the NBA where he will collect his millions. Wow…
Okay, enough basketball. Let’s get back to tennis…
This week begins the clay season with the WTA event in Amelia Island. Unfortunately, few, if any, of the top players got that memo. They all passed. The top seed is the riveting Nadia Petrova who’ll have fames piling into the event no doubt.
Bottom line, the WTA and tennis in general need to get their top players playing the big events. Imagine if Joakim Noah – sorry to bring him back up! – missed half the Florida Gator season? Well, he didn’t.
According to the WTA, there are 63 women’s event during a year. Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova have each played 15 of those 63 events in the last 52 weeks. That means they play on average 24% of the scheduled tournaments.
Now imagine if Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky had only played 24% of their games. What about Shaquille O’Neal? Those sports would take a huge hit. And what if Britney Spears or the Rolling Stones only showed up for 24% of their concert dates? They certainly wouldn’t be the stars they are today. Heck, what if you only showed up for work 24% of the time. Well, we know what would happen in that case.
Nadia Petrova is the high for events played among the top 10 at 26 of the 63 events. Unless my math is wrong that works out to 41% of the events. So at best – at best – a top player will play 41% of the events on the WTA Tour. Or said another way, the top player will skip nearly 60% of the tournaments. With that, no wonder tennis is in so much trouble…
So I’d love to know does this happen in individual sports like golf, Nascar, bowling and skiing? Do top players in those sports skip 60% or so of the overall events?
If someone has an answer – and I know Lindsay/Maria were injured and they can’t play every event, blah blah – I would love to know just how tennis compares in terms of overall player participation…
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