Tennis got a terrific jolt recently when Jack Kramer, one of its favorite sons, came out with an unblushing "kiss and tell" confession. Or shall we call it "kickback and tell?" Writing in a newspaper weekly magazine, This Week, Kramer acknowledged as an amateur he didn't adhere to the rules. He said he took money on the sly from tournament sponsors—"on the barrelhead," he added. He said he was as much a pro in his amateur days as today when he can walk up to the pay window in broad daylight.
Jack went further to say he wasn't alone in these questionable practices. They were and are commonplace among topflight players, he charged. He revived the old clarion call of "tennis bums."
Personally I was astounded by the article. Not that I didn't know that abuses exist in tennis, to an extent, as they do in other amateur sports. It was just that I was amazed to see these words come from Jack Kramer, who has been such a prominent figure in the game.
Kramer beams a spotlight on what he calls "hypocrisy" in tennis and suggests that the proper way to eliminate it is to permit an open tournament, such as is sanctioned in golf. This, he says, would mean prize money and nothing can be cleaner than prize money, openly given.
I disagree. Tennis is not ready for an open tournament. When the open tournament is accepted—and it probably will come to pass sometime in the distant future—it certainly will not follow the format Kramer outlines.
Jack's open tournament would be no more than a glorified touring road show. It would kill amateur tennis, the lifeblood of the sport.
NO QUICK MIRACLE DRUG
Tennis has its flaws, certainly. But I don't feel Kramer has hit upon the remedy. There is no quick miracle drug to bring tennis absolute purity, just as college football hasn't found an answer for abuses in football scholar ships and the Olympic Games bodies, the pinnacle of amateurism, haven't been able to wipe off the professional tinge in their own ranks.
And I do feel the abuses in tennis are exaggerated. For every single fault, the game has 99 fine, laudable traits. Thousands of kids still play it for the love of the game, and nothing more.
We have faced the problem realistically in permitting our amateur players to have sporting goods connections, as in Australia and other countries. Also they can write for magazines and newspapers. We can minimize it further by tightening our amateur code and enforcing it. And this problem, too, may be tackled from another direction: