Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zug on Chaudry

James Zug has a great article in the just-received March issue of Squash Magazine about the backstory of Baset Chaudry's on-court meltdown. If you are a US Squash member you'll get the publication soon or already have it, so please read the article, it's a very nice bit of reporting. (And if you are not a US Squash member, again I ask, 'Why not?!') 

In it he reviews Chaudry's stellar squash and academic career and explores the emotional turbulence that ended in Chaudry's inexplicable -- even to him -- fulmination. As Zug rightly notes, 15 seconds of poor behavior clouded years of gentlemanly behavior, off-court as well as on-, sometimes in the face of outrageous taunting from spectators whose 'Paki-bashing' included chants of 'terrorist' and references to Bin Laden. Truly disgusting behavior, none of which should be permitted at an academic institution. 

I'm on the record for forgiving this mistake, based on his aforementioned exemplary college career (see The Chaudry Incident). As it happened, Baset removed himself from the individual college championships, thereby stripping himself of a chance to tie Kenton Jernigan as the only other squash player with 7 intercollegiate or team titles.  As you read Zug's article, you see both how sad this result is, and how unnecessary. 

The most newsworthy item in the piece, however, was the revelation that, according to Zug, Chaudry "doesn't like squash." I was thunderstruck by that. (His first love was apparently cricket.) The many hours of grueling courtwork have left Chaudry numb to the joys of the game -- for me, a terrible legacy. I've heard this story before: college squash players are so over-trained and over-extended playing the game for their alma mater that, upon graduation, they leave the game forever, all youthful enthusiasm well and truly spent. Chaudry tells Zug in an interview that his rackets "are locked up now."

I wonder, what does that say about the coaching?


  1. That is sad to hear squash is not his passion. I sometimes also lose interest in the game and take a break of few weeks. But what I find is that exercise like running is incredibly boring. I suppose there is something in our genes that equates exercise + competition as fun!

  2. I think it is very naive to think athletes, especially those in individual sports like Squash, would have such a simple personal relationship with something that consumes so much of their time and energy. Have you read Agassi's book? That's worth the read, as it highlights to me his obsession with competition but exposes his love-hate relationship with the game. I think it says more about the fans, who are looking for those who excel to be some sort of less than human hero who will always be enthusiastic and happy about their sport. I'm happy to see that Baset was able to be honest, as that would be a more valued quality than if he was a rote pitchman for the sport.


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....