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"60 MINUTES" CRITICAL OF IMG INFLUENCE ON YOUNG PLAYERS
Published October 3, 1994
Last night on CBS' "60 Minutes," Morley Safer profiled IMG's Mark McCormack and the firm's influence on youngsters in tennis. In his report, Safer examines IMG's "research and development" program at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, "the holy of holies" to future champions and their parents. Safer said the Academy is occupied by "future stars, future burnouts, brats and kids who just won't hack it." Academy member Monique Villi, age 9, contends that her goal is to be "number one in the whole world." Villi says that by age 16 she expects to be earning "probably a couple million dollars" a year. Academy student Greg Hill, age 16, professes that in four years he expects to make "around seven to ten million" a year: "I've got to think of an image for me." Hill adds: "They need someone like me to fire up the game." BOSTON GLOBE columnist Bud Collins alleges that tennis agents are like "drug pushers at the playgrounds" when they recruit children. Collins adds that IMG, with its own Academy, "doesn't have to be out on the playground, they own the playground." McCormack maintains that IMG is not "in favor of the unrealistic exploitation of young kids on the tennis court. But the problem is that parents, perhaps, are the greediest of all." But Bollettieri admits that he "has created a monster": "I feel that the sport has to be examined very thoroughly." Safer concludes that the Academy teaches children that "winning isn't everything, endorsements are everything" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 10/2).