Saturday, September 26, 2009

More on US Squash ...

A lot more!

I received two interesting comments from my most recent blog bemoaning the fact that more enthusiastic squash players don't join the national squash association. (If you are reading this from outside the US, I'd be interested to know if similar problems, or attitudes, exist elsewhere. One reader, from Canada, listed with apparent satisfaction the benefits he or she receives from his or her regional squash association, all for $35 in Canadian bills, which last time I looked was worth more than the anemic US dollar...)

Another reader raised an interesting point, saying that not being on the East coast meant that he or she just didn't get enough value for his membership. It's definitely true that historically the East coast, from where I write, has been more involved with the game, so I wondered whether perhaps there is an ingrained regional specificity that has biased the national organization and its dispensation of energy and funds.

What exactly does the USS organization do, anyway? I decided to call and ask Kevin Klipstein, the capo di tutti capo of the organization itself, and ask. He told me that the list was long, and that USS did indeed provide abundant value for those outside of the East coast, but that this was a lingering perception. I asked for some facts, which he supplied later that day in an emailed list, as below. I pass it on, while reminding everyone that I am not a paid writer for USS and believe I am an unbiased observer of the game and its politics. However, I reiterate as strongly as I can that I believe supporting your national organization is a must for all lovers of the game, including those in Canada, Sweden, Egypt, England, etc.... Below, Klipstein's list:

What Does U.S. SQUASH Do for Me? Well, That Depends, Who Are You?

Squash Player/Fan/Enthusiast
Host website with information on every aspect of squash in the US
Provide online listing of tournaments and leagues run in the US
Provide comprehensive list of clubs in the US
Provide technology infrastructure which allows players to enter scores from everything from a challenge ladder match, box league, team league or tournament which count towards ratings calculations
Provide the online tools to teaching pros, coaches, tournament directors and districts to manage every type of competition with results counting towards players’ rankings
Generate regularly updated rankings at the club, district and national level
Annually offer tens of thousands of dollars in seed money for new middle, high school and college programs nationally
Provide all administrative support and technology infrastructure to schedule, report results and generate ratings and rankings for College Squash
Provide all administrative support and technology infrastructure to schedule, report results and generate ratings and rankings for Middle and High School Squash nationally
Field our National Teams: Junior Women, Junior Men, Women’s Men’s Teams across a host of competitions including the World Championships, Pan American Federation Cup, Pan American Games and the World University Games
Run the U.S. Open Squash Championships
Host over 20 National Championships across juniors, adults, singles and doubles
Host 8 Regional Championships and 5 Junior Championship Tour events
License, host, co-host or facilitate financially
  • 2 men’s professional tournaments (NAO, US Open)
  • 3 women’s professional tournaments (Texas Open, Weymuller, Greenwich)
  • 3 doubles professional tournaments (Johnson, Kellner, NAO Doubles)
  • Two annual international competitions (Lapham-Grant, Copa Wadsworth)

U.S. SQUASH Member
Provide regularly updated national, district and club-level ratings and rankings
Offer a full-year subscription to Squash Magazine
Send monthly e-newsletter with national squash updates and links
Offer discounted fees for participation in U.S. SQUASH sanctioned leagues and ladders
Provide 35% discount for U.S. Open and other event tickets
Facilitate discounts at Hilton Hotels
Enable the Life Time Fitness “Be Our Guest” program which allows current U.S. SQUASH members a free “guest pass” to Life Time Fitness Clubs when traveling outside of their home region. Other clubs are being added to this network.
Provide ability to email other members of the Association via online system, and ability to “Find a Match” using online system, screening by location, skill level and availability
Host U.S. Championships for qualified junior, adult skill, adult age, and doubles players
Allow access to official U.S. SQUASH Coaching and Referee Certification programs
Offer Scholar-Athlete Program which recognizes junior squash players with a 3.5 GPA (or higher) and a Final Season Ranking
Offer Coaching Certification Courses to improve the skills of the teaching pros and coaches in the US
Offer Referee Certification Courses to improve the skills of officials in the US and encourage fair play nationally
Send a personalized membership card and other mailed updates throughout the year

Squash Clubs
Provide insurance coverage for sanctioned tournaments
Offer membership retention tools such as use of online software for hosting tournaments, leagues and ladders
Provide access to database of players to be used for communicating with club membership about club activities
Offer club rankings for players of every level
List clubs on website and promotion of all tournaments, leagues and ladders to help support membership retention
Support teaching professionals via Squash Professionals Affiliate (SPA) program (see Club Pros)
Offer a full-year subscription to Squash Magazine

Club Pros
Offer Coaching Certification Courses to improve skills as coach
Allow use of online software for hosting tournaments, leagues and ladders, also used for communicating with club membership about club activities
Access and support via the Squash Professionals Affiliate program which offers….
  • Personal liability insurance coverage for coaching
  • Access to a pre-screened, preferred network of health insurance providers
  • Eligibility for U.S. SQUASH Membership Incentives
  • Discounts on tournament sanctioning fees throughout the season (up to 20%)
  • Waived sanctioning fees for annual Club Championship
  • Waived sanctioning fees for use of U.S. SQUASH Leagues & Ladders
  • Free admission to the U.S. SQUASH Professional Development Conference
  • On-court performance apparel from U.S. SQUASH
  • A Squash Professionals Affiliate recognition certificate
  • Discounts up to 50% on Coach Certification Courses offered by U.S. SQUASH
  • Free entry into the SPA Championships
  • Eligibility for U.S. SQUASH Lifetime Achievement Award, Rookie of the Year and Most Respected Professional Awards

Provide all administrative support and technology infrastructure to schedule, report results and generate ratings and rankings for College Squash
Provide all administrative support and technology infrastructure to schedule, report results and generate ratings and rankings for Middle and High School Squash nationally
Access and support via the Squash Professionals Affiliate (SPA) program (see Club Pros)

Playing Pros
Run the U.S. Open Squash Championships
Financially responsible for prize purses for approximately
  • 30% of men’s professional tournaments in the US
  • 50% of women’s professional tournaments in the US
  • 20% of professional doubles tournaments in the US
Provide direct support to the US’s top six players through program called TOPS which includes
  • Direct financial support over $10K annually total
  • Mechanism for athletes to raise funding support on tax deductible basis
  • Athlete health insurance
  • Performance bonuses from the USOC
  • Reimbursement for PSA/WISPA dues
  • Waived entry fees at U.S. Squash Championships

Urban Squash
Offer discounted membership with full benefits
Provide 2 for 1 entry into Regional and National Championships
Waive junior charges and event sanctioning fees
Annually offer more than $30K in funding grants to National Urban Squash and Education Association and new and emerging urban programs

Provide liability insurance for sanctioned play reducing costs
Supply a centralized membership database with membership fee collection service and robust reporting tools at no cost
Offer tournament, team and box league management software at no cost
Provide regularly updated District ratings and rankings

Other things U.S. SQUASH Does
Represents squash as a Member of the United States Olympic
Represents United States as a Member of the World Squash Federation
Maintains the Rules of the Games for Squash in the United States


  1. Just to correct/clarify:

    I believe there are lots of different ways to support the sport if you don't believe in cost/benefit, bureaucracy, leadership or programs.

    Making it an all or none, black or white ... Membership is the sole way to support sport may be discounting other options, opportunities.

    I shared the cost and list of benefits for our association, not based from a position of satisfaction ... but to allow some comparisons

    Note the lack of a magazine and only a small portion of this funding flows to the National Body

    I wanted/hoped for others to look at what we are charged/receive vs. what US Squash is asking/providing to provide context, specifics, exchange of information, dialogue.

    In my opinin, if participation in our Interclub City League didn't require (it's mandatory) Squash BC membership I would hazard a guess a significant portion of SquashBC members and consequent revenues, programs would evaporate.


  2. If for whatever reason you see fit not to join your regional or national squash association, here are some other ideas to support squash:

  3. Man alive -- your long list of benefits doesn't do much to forward your cause. I'm a member because it's required to play in my league, but most of the guys at my club could go down that list and check off "This doesn't benefit me" next to each entry. The people who do benefit already are members because circumstances compel them to be (such as my case, where I have to pony up for league play). If you're going to convince players who don't participate in any organized events to join, you're going to need to come up with a more convincing (and concise) argument.

  4. The list is definitely not concise, and in the world of bloggerdom it makes for an exceptionally long-winded blog. But if you are a player who doesn't play organized events, just likes to go out there and play against members of your club, and so doesn't see any benefit whatever in joining up, i would argue you are not looking carefully enough. You get Squash Magazine, which is the one national magazine covering our sport, you get a monthly e-blast that keeps you up-to-date about the latest doings from our national teams -- which just did pretty damn well in an international competition, just falling short of finally getting in the top 10 in the world -- and you get an organization that is actively working to create a golf-like handicap system that would allow any squash player in the US to play a similar player when you find yourself on the road and hungry for a game, and you get access to a new program just being rolled out now that your pro can use to schedule box and league matches within your own club that will feed into your overall rating calculation.

    But I hear you. It's blah blah blah. A lot of detail.

    Ultimately, what USS is doing, as are the national organizations in England, Scotland, Egypt, Malaysia, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Canada, etc.... what they are all ultimately doing is advancing the sport as best they can, given, in many cases, restrictive financial shackles. If you have any ideas how better to provide value for the day-to-day squash lover, who is the heart and soul of this sport, I would strongly suggest contacting the national organization. I can guarantee they would love to hear from you -- they love getting feedback and take it seriously. The head guy at US Squash is Kevin Klipstein, and his telephone number is: 212-268-4090.


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....