Within minutes of Murray’s victory I thought to myself that the victory will be used to justify an increase in taxpayer funding for tennis. “Success”, it will be said, “will encourage and inspire a new generation and we must ensure they are supported”. I had, of course, forgotten that under “austerity” funding might have otherwise been reduced, and the goal of the sporting special interests might be to merely keep taking what they are paid now. Tim Henman was quick to set me straight, penning this for the BBC on Sunday evening:
“I hope this victory can be another shot in the arm for British tennis. Adult participation numbers have dropped and there have been rumours of funding being cut.
“How could they cut funding for British tennis after what we witnessed today?
The answer to Mr Henman lies in the history of the new champions tennis training, courtesy of the Independent:
Murray, who quit Britain for a tennis academy in Spain at the age of 15, told the Daily Mail: “Do you know that in Spain, at 18, your funding stops?
“From there, you get nothing that you cannot earn for yourself. We’re funding guys to 27, 28 – while in the most successful tennis nation in the world you’re basically on your own. Maybe there’s something in that.
Maybe there is! Maybe the people with the dedication to play elite tennis as a sport (and not just for fun) are dedicated enough to pay for it, or fight for sponsors, or scholarships. Maybe an easy ride encourages complacency. Perhaps real effort and hard trade-offs made as a child make adults that are more focused and determined. Maybe.