Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cheap, Stupid or Uninformed?

There are many regular, enthusiastic squash players out there that, for one reason or another, are not members of US Squash. Now I concede that the occasional squash player, who plays a few times a month, may not have the well-being of the sport’s national organization uppermost in mind. But regular players, even thoroughly addicted ones who can be found beating the living hell out of a black squash ball 4 and 5 times a week -- why aren’t they members?

Players fitting that description, and there are a lot of them, may conjure up all kinds of excuses. One may be that they are cheap and don’t see the value in joining. There is no denying that we are living in tough financial times, so there will indeed be players out there who feel they simply can’t afford to pony up $55 for an annual membership -- which reduces to $50 when you automatically renew. (There is an additional but considerably smaller fee for membership into the local squash association, some of whom – I’m thinking of the MSRA in the New York area -- do an excellent job and run some great programs.)

So to those people, I say, fine, keep playing and join when you can. Those people are not cheap, they just can’t afford it; that’s different. But there are also a lot of cheap-o players who can afford membership 50 times over, and yet still don’t join, and these people may even while away some of their free time with bellicose complaints about various pro-squash things that “for some inexplicable reason, the morons who run US Squash haven’t done!”

Another possible explanation for not joining US Squash is that you are stupid. But that cannot be the case, because there are no stupid squash players. (They play racquetball! Oooops, sorry…)

A much more likely explanation for not joining is that you are uninformed. US Squash has a lot of programs, some of which are explained on their site, but they are many and varied enough that you may not know about them. Programs like their regularly updated rankings, discounted tickets available for sanctioned tournaments, the informative e-blast that goes out each month, coaching and refereeing support, discounts at Hilton Hotels, and even a credit card.

Plus, US Squash gives vital funding in support of Squash Magazine, the journal of record for our great game. Would the magazine like more funding? I bet they would, but the organization would need more members in order to fund more support. And I also bet that the ad director of Squash Magazine would like to be able to tell potential advertisers that the magazine goes out to a greater percentage of US squash players.

Recently US Squash announced a deal with the Life Time Fitness chain, in which US Squash members can get a free guest pass to play squash on any of the chain’s 122 courts. And finally, US Squash just unveiled their ‘Play Squash’ program, which provides software that club pros can use to set up ladders, box leagues, and intra- and interclub competitions. And there is more, go check it out.

All great stuff, and much of it done with sweat equity till late at night for nothing, because the funds to back our sport are underperforming the level of enthusiasm that supports it, indeed is allowing it to thrive. Ask your playing partners if they are members, and make it an issue if they are not. Bug them, cajole them, because it is time to step up.

I know the folks down at US Squash would dearly love to get their hands on more revenue from membership fees, because all those pro-squash things that the cheap-o’s are angry they haven’t done yet are on their list of things to do when they have the funds to do them.


  1. Nothing like insulting people in order to make them do what you want them to do!

    In most of the US (that is, outside the east coast) there are barely any sanctioned tournaments. The membership costs more than what you gain in discounts. Squash Magazine is nice, but not worth $55 for a subscription. I honestly don't see that much value in the other benefits.

    I spend 6-8 hours on court a week, and (I believe that) I'm not stupid, uninformed, etc. I simply think that it's only worthwhile for people that play a lot of US Squash sanctioned tournaments or live on the east coast, which isn't my case.

    Thanks for telling us that US Squash would love our money (shocker there). However, I think I'll spend those $55 on equipment or court time.

  2. Thought I would share for an imprecise, unfair comparison what my regional association charges and their cost, benefit, value proposition:

    Squash British Columbia
    $35 CDN

    Sport Liability Insurance
    Be able to play in sanctioned tournaments at the reduced rate.
    Be able to play in Squash BC sanctioned leagues.
    Be in a province wide ranking system.
    Be able to sign up on-line for tournaments, courses, and other special offers on the Squash BC web site.
    Be able to take officiating courses at a reduced rate.
    Be eligible to play on Provincial Teams. Elite, Masters, Juniors, CanAms.
    Be able to take part in Squash BC sanctioned Junior Programs and tournaments.
    Be able to take coaching courses.
    Help fund Junior Provincial Teams.
    Be helping fund programs like Instant Squash and the Skill Awards.
    Be a member of Squash Canada, the World Squash Federation and able to play in sanctioned events world wide.

    Other reasons that are a little harder to pin down, but are equally important are the philosophical ones.


Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....