Where’s Our Rallying Point?
I think I missed something … or maybe I didn’t. It’s hard to tell. What I think I missed is National Tennis Month.
Do you know what month is National Tennis Month? Do your customers and members? Do tennis players in your community? More importantly, do non-players, kids, or students in your schools?
If you were wondering, the month of May has, for many years, been designated National Tennis Month by the USTA. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I have to say, this has been one of the most consistently under-served and under-utilized initiatives. Talk about something custom-made for promoting this sport.
Think about it — we have a whole month, supposedly designed to promote the sport to everyone. (And did you know this actually coincides with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which since 1983 has also been the month of May?) We need to use National Tennis Month to truly promote this sport and its benefits to everyone in this country in a more cohesive manner.
In putting together the May issue of RSI in late March/early April, we contacted the USTA to see what was planned for NTM. They couldn’t tell us, mostly because plans, it seemed, hadn’t been finalized yet. And that’s the problem: Year after year, National Tennis Month seems to be simply an afterthought. Whether this is true or not, the perception is there’s little pre-planning and virtually no promotion before May.
This is not just a USTA concern — this is something we all should address. We need to use National Tennis Month and the month of May to really promote this sport — to all consumers, outside of the current tennis “family” — which means we need to plan the campaign and we need to get the word out before May actually hits.
NTM, for instance, is the perfect time to hammer home the health message of tennis — something this industry as a whole has yet to get its arms around successfully (although there are initiatives under way to help with the health messaging of tennis). And why not use NTM to take advantage of the “Racket Up, America!” campaign and phrase that the industry promoted a year ago?
Bottom line, if we’re going to have a National Tennis Month, we need to do it right. We all need to support each other and rally behind a solid month of well-publicized programs and promotions designed to get the word out about TENNIS and get more people playing, and playing more often.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.