Tag: tennis

Taxing Times…
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Taxing Times…

I’ve banged on about this before but I really think it is time the Federal Government took notice of this humble scribe from the Northern Rivers. With ‘our day’ fast approaching we seem to be losing some of our essential ‘Australianess’  – our ability in sport.  Of course our focus at the moment is on tennis and we have a rightly proud tradition in this sport. Some fine, rightly lauded champions have emanated from these shores… Court, Laver, Rosewall, Goolagong-Cawley, Rafter roll off the tongue with nary a thought. Whilst we revelled in this success and the prestige we all gained, participation numbers dropped (save for a couple of weeks after the Open) and the number of courts in the country spiralled downwards.  The disconnect between the elite and the grass roots has grown to become a yawning chasm. As the peak body for their sport Tennis Australia has been forthright in their actions to shore up and increase the number of people slicing backhands and hitting scintillating forehands down the line.  But their task and that of every sport the length and breadth of this nation could be helped with a simple act.  Make the fees paid to play sport a tax deduction.  With this single, sweeping reform the sporting landscape could be changed forever and a remarkable domino effect would ensue. Pressure would be released on straining family budgets where sport is a discretionary spend. With a greater ability to play participation rates would increase, slowly at first but then in ever increasing numbers as the benefits of playing netball, tennis, cricket, soccer, lacrosse, bowls whatever become apparent. Of course, some such benefit will be health related as increased participation inexorably leads to better health outcomes. Medical intervention will be lessened and the strain on health budgets decreased.  But other benefits can also be realised – the in vogue term is ‘capital’ and being involved in sport can have an effect on many of the varying types from social to psychological and from physical to knowledge.  There is also symbolic capital which is synonymous with honour, fame and prestige. Australian sport engendered this in spades for many years and increased participation will see it continue.  It’s time…

This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on January 23rd

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Chinese Revolution

Not sure if you heard it as it was well after midnight on Saturday?  Perhaps not. After it was late and yes, not a single Australian was involved which tends to diminish the desire of even the most ardent of sports fans.  It was the sound of the axis of the sport of tennis creaking and tilting far eastwards.  In case you didn’t see it Chinese athlete Li Na won her first Grand Slam title in beating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets to win the French Open.  It was a first for China in singles although three doubles pairs have taken major titles.  If only the tiniest fraction of the total population of 1.3 billion pick up a racket as a result we will see many more follow in Na’s endearing and engaging footsteps. It also brought stark comparison to Australia’s tennis stocks. A proud record essentially counts for nothing as we struggle with the globalisation of this particular sport and others as well. Australia has won more than its fair share of Davis Cups and seen players both male and female routinely ranked in the top ten and winning grand slam events. All stakeholders of Australian tennis, from the fanatical supporters travelling the world to expectant parents hoping to steer their charge to a lucrative career and from corporate sponsors to the administrators at the pinnacle of the game must appreciate that the landscape has changed and will never be the same again.  Many countries where tennis wasn’t exactly mainstream have developed prodigiously talented athletes that, at the moment rank better than ours. Russia and Eastern Europe was far from a hotbed of wristy backhands and sweet lobs twenty five years ago? China has been knocking at the door for a while – two of the semi finalists in the women’s singles at the 2010 Australian Open came from there. With an unlimited and largely untapped supply of talent, a hugely supportive State system and a charming role model in Li Na I am certain we are seeing the start of an altogether different Revolution!

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