How to Fix the Davis Cup

Adam ChemerinskyContributor IDecember 7, 2012

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - NOVEMBER 18:  L-R  Team captain Jaroslav Navratil, Radek Stepanek,Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol,Ivo Minar of Czech Republic and 1980 winning team Pavel Korda team captain,Jan Kodes,Pavel Slozil, Tomas Smid and Ivan Lendl pose by the winners trophy after a 3-2 victory against Spain during day three of the final Davis Cup match between Czech Republic and Spain at the 02 Arena on November 18, 2012 in Prague, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

To understand why the Davis Cup needs to be fixed, we need to understand that it was once a prominent fixture of international competition in sports.

The Davis Cup was born in 1900 when a Harvard student named Dwight Davis bought a trophy bowl made of 217 ounces of sterling silver and lined with gold from Shreve, Crump and Low Company. Davis, who the trophy is named after, invited Great Britain to play against the American team at a tennis club near Harvard. At that time, no other country had enough serious tennis players to warrant an invitation. It is hard to fathom now that Davis was quoted years later as saying, "I sometimes wonder if the Davis Cup was a good has become too big."

The Davis Cup quickly evolved into a tournament where preliminary rounds determined the winners of the "American zone" and European Zone. The American zone winner would face the European zone winner in the Interzone Finals. The winner of this match would then play the defending champion, which was often Great Britain in the early years.

Nowadays, the tournament is a complete disaster. Ask a sports fan who won the Davis Cup this year and you will either hear, "What is the Davis Cup?" or they will guess a country at random.

The Davis Cup is going nowhere, fast.

In my opinion, the main problem is scheduling. There is no place for the Davis Cup on the current ATP schedule, but they don't want to eliminate it either because it makes money and is historic. Tennis is depriving itself of having the greatest event in sports—something that would be rivaled only by the World Cup—because of the dollars that an ATP tournament would have to give up by taking itself off the calendar.

As a result, one round in the Davis Cup is played. Then there are a couple of months off between rounds. Then, suddenly, one weekend we wake up and the United States is playing Switzerland.

In essence, we are supposed to get emotionally invested in an event that spans one full calendar year—but how can we? 

Players are already overscheduled, which is why it feels like a chore rather than an honor for these players to vie for the Davis Cup. In recent years, the rounds often consist of the various countries' top players not being able to compete for various reasons.

But if you watch the Olympics—or if you read player interviews—you will quickly realize that in an individual sport where people play for themselves for a full calendar year, there is no greater honor for these very same players than to represent their home country.

That's why the Davis Cup, If done right, will return to be on the same level as the World Cup (or at least the Ryder Cup).

Even the World Baseball Classic (which has occurred only twice) has already surpassed the Davis Cup among international competitions. Baseball has surpassed Tennis' international event only because it is better scheduled and has a TV contract that allows it to be in the public eye. 

Here are some easy solutions as to how to quickly fix the Davis Cup and bring it back to prominence:

First, play the Davis Cup only every four years or every two years.

Second, the Davis Cup should last for only one week instead of being played throughout the calendar year.

Third, while there will be only one host country for the event, the host country should change every time the Davis Cup is played.

Fourth, when the Davis Cup is played, it should be played instead of a Masters 1000 event rather than in addition to it. The Masters 1000 event that will not take place that calendar year will be the host of the Davis Cup instead.

For example, one year the Davis Cup tournament will be held in Cincinnati. Four years later, it can be Paris. And so on.

Fifth, the ranking points that were accumulated from the previous year in the Masters 1000 event will carry over one extra calender year.

Sixth, Davis Cup scoring will consist of six singles matches and three doubles matches (the exact same as college tennis scoring). This will eliminate the concept of a country winning by only using two players and guarantee that the event will become more of a team event.

These are only a few solutions that should fix the Davis Cup and restore it to prominence.  But I would love to hear your solutions as well.