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Dear Andy Murray

September 21, 2011

Dear Andy Murray,

We’re pretty different, you and I. But we both feel overworked, so I guess we have something in common. Only I don’t play tennis for a living; I work in public health care 47 weeks of the year, at least 40 hours a week. It isn’t exactly a dream job, but I’ve got to admit, there’s some pretty good perks. Like free milk in the tearoom most mornings, and the occasional pack of biscuits due to expire. We get leftover apples from patients, (it used to be bananas before the floods hit), and if you’re in dire need of tampons, well, there’s plenty of them in the store room. So it isn’t bad. I don’t want to do it until I’m 65 though, (that’s the age I’m supposed to retire). So in the weekends I write, because that’s my real passion. And I’m sure you know all about passion, as you play tennis. My understanding is that tennis players play for the love of the sport, not the money. For the feeling of winning, of improving, of having masses of people supporting you through thick and thin. So you must understand that even though I don’t get paid much for my writing yet, I love doing it anyway and nothing can stop me trying to make it professionally. I imagine you can relate.

When you said that comment about the US Open needing to pay you more if they want to extend the tournament to 15 days, I knew you were joking. I mean you already earn more in one day of the US Open than the average person does in a year. If it’s the right day, you can make as much money as most people do in decades. So clearly you must have been kidding, because that sounds rather greedy, and I know it isn’t about the money for you. But you were clearly serious with your comments about the schedule. I have to admit I moan too sometimes when I get sick of working weekends and late shifts. But I’ve got to admit, I’ve got it pretty good. And so do you, from what I can tell. 20 weeks a year and a say in your working schedule? That doesn’t sound too bad to me. And they’re giving you more holidays next year too, so maybe you should see how that goes before you start threatening radical strike action. After all, you don’t really want to strike do you? Because that means you won’t be able to play tennis. And tennis is what you love, right?

Thanks for clearing that up, Andy.

All the best,

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2011 3:16 pm

    Such a petty comment from MAndy. The draw’s staying the same, and the point of this is so that players play fewer back to back matches – surely a good thing. Like you pointed out, his comment has nothing to do with how much he gets paid and more to do with his attitude to the game. Disappointing.

  2. niamh permalink
    September 21, 2011 6:32 pm

    Dear Kait,
    You chose what you do for a living and so did Andy and I’m sure Andy will not stop you fighting for your rights. By the way, Andy works virtually 47 weeks of the year in a physically demanding job which requires your body to have time to recover but sadly because of the tight schedule this doesn’t happen. Simply because you accept your poor working conditions doesn’t mean that others should. If you have a contract to play over 14 days and the time is extended, then you should expect to be rewarded for it, irrespective of how much you are paid. Tennis is an individual sport and no one can substitute for you if you are injured, so players need time to rest, recover and do other things. I assume you don’t travel all over the world living in hotels to do your job, you are able to go home every day and you enjoy at least two days off every week unlike tennis players who hardly ever get to sleep in their own beds and see their friends and family like you are able to day in day out. If you chose to work for peanuts that’s your choice and you could always become a tennis player couldn’t you?

    • September 21, 2011 9:24 pm

      1. I do not have poor working conditions.
      2. The whole point of the US Open talking of extending the tournament by one day is to give the players more rest. That’s the reward.
      3. Tennis players chose to be tennis players. Andy travels the world, living in the most glamorous hotels, and if he didn’t want to do that anymore, he can stop. Andy can go back to university and make a regular living like regular people. His comments showed how out of touch with reality he is. His job is a dream job.
      4. I do not work for peanuts. I earn an average wage. I also could not become a tennis player if I wanted to.

  3. sianmr permalink
    September 21, 2011 10:19 pm

    Kait, I hear what you are saying … my work day can often exceed 12 hours.

    BUT Andy is not you neither is he me. He is an elite sportsman at the top of the tennis game. He has sacrificed much of his young adult life to be in that lofty place. He also doesn’t just play tennis during the matches of a tournament.
    How many injuries were there at the USOpen this year? In a non contact sport? I’m often saddened and really frustrated by the injuries that prevent we tennis fans from seeing the match that could have been. I’m also a selfish tennis fan that wants to have tennis available throughout the year. I think what happened in New York … with players being asked to play on wet courts (so extremely dangerous) and with the semi-finals of the DCup waiting in the wings these players just felt at their limit.
    I think all workers should be allowed the right to strike. 🙂

  4. rosso_neri permalink
    September 21, 2011 10:23 pm

    Perfectly said, it’s not that I think the tennis schedule is perfect but the way some of the players (so far only really the top, top players who can earn millions, even without playing, through their various sponsorship deals) are complaining is going about it the wrong way. Go ask any of the lower ranked “journeymen” who play endlessly all year long just trying to scrape enough to get by if they’d support a strike. If the players moaning about the schedule were those lower ranked players barely scraping by to the next tournament, I’d be a lot more concerned.

    There are far too many interests at stake within the tennis world & while tennis does rely on it’s top stars, it also doesn’t exist entirely to serve them. I doubt any tournaments would volunteer themselves to be removed from the calendar or any of the mandatory events say “oh it’s ok we don’t actually want the top players coming here”. The tournaments need the top players, the lower ranked players need the tournaments (both big & small), the tour needs the top players to attract sponsors/ticket sales/media etc etc. You can’t just act for one particular group, make changes to benefit that group without affecting the others. The only way I can see anything working (& not sure it’d even work to be honest) re: the schedule is to either allow players to pick & choose what tournaments they want to enter (ie: no mandatory events) or simply cut down the number of mandatory tournaments, perhaps follow the WTA’s lead & only have 4, but then good luck trying to get agreement on which ones to keep & which to cut!

    I think a lot of the issues with players getting injured more these days isn’t so much about how many tournaments they play but how they actually play. The courts are all slowing down, defence & grinding wins matcehs these days & the sheer physicality of it all is extreme right now wiht sliding on al surfaces, so much more power & speed & crazy angles, long rallies. Couple that with all the mdoern technology in racquets & strings which puts so much pressure on arms, wrists, shoulders etc & the problems in the modern game are clearly not just down the schedule itself. Plus they could all just do like the Williams sisters have done over the years & say “Up yours, I play where & when I want to. I’ll take whatever fines you’ve got!” 😉

    • niamh permalink
      September 22, 2011 9:11 am

      You can’t say that players shouldn’t complain about the schedule if they do sponsorships or exhos it’s like saying no one should complain about their working hours because they do freelance.

      Your point about lower ranked players needing the schedule to earn money, perhaps they should pay them more. The players on the challenger circuit get peanuts, surely, someone must be pocketing most of the money generated by the players because the players only get a tiny % of the revenue they generate.

      A tennis player’s working life is very short and the money they earn has to last them for the rest of their lives so whilst they are millionaire’s whilst they are playing, if they spread it across the rest of their lives it doesn’t amount ot that much.

  5. Morgan permalink
    September 22, 2011 2:42 am

    I’ve been thinking a lot in recent days about the 1973 Wimbledon Boycott, when 81 players, including 13 of the 16 seeds, refused to play as a show of support for Niki Pilić in his dispute with the Yugoslav Federation. I sometimes wonder if there is anything or anyone that players today would boycott a major for. If they’re all really unhappy, why not strike?

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