Few sports organizations use their big event to drive youth participation as well as the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Open. From the fan experience at Flushing Meadows to Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day they constantly think – and invest – in the future of the sport.
The USTA also uses the CBS coverage of the tournament to promote its initiative of “Game for Fun” at YouthTennis.com. The USTA ran several PSAs during the weekend coverage. With tennis having year-round opportunities to participate in most areas, it’s not just a game of summer. Tennis facilities that host a free day of play can get a $50 gift certificate from Amazon.com.
What was noticeable is they focus on having fun for kids at youthtennis.com.
This is an emerging theme in youth sports. The swimming industry’s SwimToday campaign also uses fun (or “funnest” rather) as the primary hook to its campaign. More on that campaign can be found here.
According to the Sport Fitness & Industry Association, tennis participation is up 3.9% in the last year but membership fees are down the last two years and growth is flat at 0% over the last five years.
They are also partnering with Nickelodeon for a World Wide Day of Play initiative and have a great history of creative advertising.
Even some of their corporate partners are in on the movement, such as Chase. They have launched a campaign called #ReturntheServe and have pledged $100,000 to the USTA Foundation to help support junior tennis. That program will deliver tennis to 20,000 young people in 10 markets.
Growing the future of the game is a major initiative of the USTA, but also has added importance to the equipment industry and tennis facilities across the country.
We are starting to see a major trend in youth sports of investment in participation, from the USTA and the golf, hockey, and swimming industries. Watch for it now on the U.S. Open coverage and watch for it more in the future across youth sports.