Classism And Discrimination In Tennis Clubs

Classism refers to the systematic subjugation of lower-class people in order to benefit and empower upper-class people. It is the social class-based systematic assignment attributes of merit and competence. People are classified according to their social classes in various countries depending on their economic status, occupation, and education. Different social classes have diverse ideas reflected in their sporting interests. Classism can be viewed as a form of discrimination within a private membership tennis club atmosphere.

Lawn tennis is considered by many to be a typical British middle-class sport, despite its early support from strong aristocrats. Many of the early players, managers and supporters of the sport came from the upper class. Lawn tennis is considered a sport that developed a social character early in 140 years of history and was partially practiced for social fame and to emphasize social status and class (Lake, 2019). The particularly modest way in which lawn tennis was played reflects the behavioral patterns of the upper class, and adhering to the established code of conduct of the sport makes them the most socially ambitious members of the private tennis clubs. For this reason, players from a higher social class usually have more opportunities and favoritism from the side tennis club staff. Such sports clubs provided a way to increase the social status of the socially inferior ones.

The issue of social exclusion in tennis tends to be considered completely negative by the Lawn Tennis Association Governing Body and its associated representatives, which is an oversimplified and inaccurate issue of this complex and dynamic issue. It represents an explanation of the current sports policy (Lake, 2019). Indeed, in the past time of lawn tennis, it was not a problem to deny the opportunity for young people and people in the poorest parts of society to join tennis clubs. In fact, excluding the lower social and economic groups allowed an opportunity to increase the sport’s fame needed to remain popular among the socially emerging class. The term social exclusion carries a lot of political and ideological baggage that needs to be dismantled. The Lawn Tennis Association has been accused of taking a prejudiced and emotionally charged stance, reducing the reality of social exclusion in British tennis to a static notion of poor social class and age discrimination. Prejudices related to the players both from the upper and lower class, could serve as the main motivation for staff to express discrimination and classism in the tennis clubs by showing more favor towards the players from the upper class.

The weakening of competitive play in favor of more restrained behavior on the court, as well as the continued significance put on high-class patronage of tennis clubs, are seen to have contributed to the marginalization of exclusion issues for many decades. In numerous clubs, people of the lower classes and children struggled to gain membership (Lake, 2019). In addition, they were treated in a different way from how the upper-class members were treated. The private club staff could show favoritism and preferential treatment from one member over another based on friendship, social status, and upper-class status. However, dominant groups did not raise the matter or consider it to be a concern at the time. Therefore, until the mid-twentieth century, this was unquestionably not a social issue. For powerful groups capable of addressing the matter on a bigger scale, the limitation of playing or membership chances to specific groups in clubs was not seen as a concern. The marginalized groups had little authority to recognize the presence of exclusion as a problem, and the power of groups operating on their behalf, if any, was also limited.

It is clear that the components of the elite amateur philosophy of lawn tennis lasted until the mid-20th century and influenced how sports were performed and organized at both the elite club levels. This is achieved in two ways in many clubs: one is to prioritize modest behavior, and the other is to increase support for the upper and upper-middle class. Given that volunteer tennis clubs enjoyed considerable autonomy throughout the 20th century, these two phenomena colluded to maintain the dominant idea of ‚Äč‚Äčamateurism in most tennis clubs (Lake, 2019). Obvious competition and aggressive play are still regarded as ideals for vulgar working-class sports. Competitive play was discouraged in favor of excessive competition and other social disruptions. The internal political and organizational structure of many voluntary organizations has been influenced by this aversion to the competitiveness of the working class.

For players, behavioral self-control had both practical and social purposes. Because rules and norms of behaviors are generally established by the elite, the staff is likely to favor their side when it comes to judging the game. Even though the lower-class players might be right in certain situations, they have little power to change the behavior of the staff. These codes of conduct were widely accepted and constantly strengthened by the general ideology of elite hegemony, helping to become mainstream, especially among the emerging middle class. Therefore, these codes of conduct set the standards that all groups should comply with if they want to grow in society.

Economic function is society’s most basic and fundamental function and supports all structural power relationships anytime, anywhere. The relationship with the means of production was generally considered to be the most important source of social power (Lake, 2019). The favoritism from the staff, in such situations, when staff takes the side of one member clearly in the wrong (the favored member) as being a right party in a dispute/argument with another member whose clearly right (now being terminated) is also based on the power of the member. One who has more power will be favored by stuff because they have more control and privileges related to it. A monopoly of the bourgeoisie full of economic functions, means of production, and entrepreneurship give them the power and opportunity to downplay or exploit other groups. Inequality in power opportunities was clearly associated with the functional interdependence of groups in society. There was evidence that the power came from the ability to withhold what someone else needed and that economic functions played a major role in power-sharing only in certain ways.

In private tennis clubs, there might be situations when staff takes the side of one member clearly in the wrong (the favored member) as being a right party in a dispute/argument with another member whose clearly right (now being terminated). Instances of favoritism are the representation of discrimination based on social and economic status factors. Such cases happen because of the reasons that relate to behavioral norms, the low importance of competition, and the extent of power that the particular tennis player possesses. Firstly, it will contradict the historically accepted behavior rules to argue about the fairness of the decisions made throughout the game. As was mentioned before, competition and aggressiveness are not typical for tennis game practice. Finally, the more power a player has, the better he will be treated. That is because he has more control over the staff and over the lower-class players. Even if some staff or players from the lower socio-economic classes would like to address the problem of favoritism and discrimination, they will not have enough power to do so.


Lake, R. J. (2019). Historical changes in playing styles and behavioral etiquette in tennis: Reflecting broader shifts in social class and gender relations. In Routledge Handbook of Tennis, 255-265. Routledge.