By now, most memories of Olympic tennis have sifted away out of the popular imagination. However, the event really deserves a second look. If you caught a glance of an event featuring names like Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, you might assume that you were watching one of the top pro matches. You might not even believe that you were watching the Olympic games.
Olympic competition was originally designed for amateur athletes. It was supposed to be an opportunity for people to compete on the international stage who otherwise wouldn't have ever gotten such an opportunity. Things are quite a bit different these days. Professional athletes are nothing new at the Olympics, however.
Even casual fans remember the excellent Red Army ice hockey franchise, and it's hard to forget about the Dream Team. Some commentators feel these sorts of squads can put on a better show, and are therefore necessary to keep interest in the Olympics high.
Others will argue that national pride is a major issue, and these athletes demonstrate the best that their respective nations have to offer.
These arguments not withstanding, tennis is a very different sport that is as much about personal pride as it is about national pride. Competitors have a lot to fight for, so to speak. Some might say that having so many professionals from the open circuits competing in the Olympics can cheapen the feeling of success that up and comers feel from their victories. Nevertheless, that's not to say that the debate is about age at all.
Amateur simply refers to someone who competes out of a genuine love for the sport. In fact, that's the root of the word amateur. It doesn't define a specific age or level of play. It simply means that the athlete in question hasn't actually declared for a formal tournament and begun to make a living off playing tennis.
The Olympics could be looked at as a great first step to eventual professional competition. With all the pros currently in the games, however, it would be hard for anyone new to get their foot in the door. That's why some people are arguing that some changes be made.
Whatever system the IOC would eventually put into play, however, would probably be considered unfair by at least some segment of the fan base. It's hard to please everyone all of the time, after all.