Monday, December 24, 2012


Everything I've heard about the recent presentation before the Olympic bid committee, on December 19 in Lausanne, Switzerland, has been positive, and the production qualities of the two videos that were played at the bid meeting were great. They featured Ramy Ashour and the stellar Nicol David, who is not only the greatest female squash player that ever bounded across a court but also its greatest proponent. She will receive my vote for President of the World, should that vote ever come up... US Squash should take a bow as it has had quite a lot to do with the increased professionalism evident in this latest bid to the Olympics committee, but most of this work has occurred behind the scenes and, due to the politics of the bid, will remain that way.

James Willstrop was at the meeting and he said two things that I've been hearing a lot lately: "Squash represents the essence of Olympic sport. It’s gladiatorial given that we are the only racket sport where players share the same space, and to excel requires a mix of mental strategy, skill, athleticism and fitness..." 

Two things: First, I would think that racquetball players, whose numbers are still in the millions, might object to squash depicting itself as the only sport played in a box. This description of squash as being the sole boxed racket sport is being repeated all the time now, by various proponents of the game, and it is flat-out wrong. Being wrong bugs me; people should stop saying this.

Another thing that people keep saying lately is that the sport is "gladiatorial." Willstrop is not the first to say this; he is echoing someone in the squash establishment who, months ago, when trying to market the sport, had the word 'gladiatorial' pop into his or her head and the darn word got stuck there! 

When I read that word for the first time in the context of squash I thought, Wow, what a stretch, and how silly! Now, I keep seeing that word and I think, Jeez, enough with the gladiators! 

My point: There are lots of words that correctly describe squash that marketers, whose job it is to puff things up, could use to accomplish the task. When you use a word like 'gladiatorial,' the message gets lost in the medium. People stop and ponder the word, rather than the intent of the word. 

It's a fantastic sport; you'll find no stronger proponent than I. But its not the sole this or the gladiatorial that. 


  1. Could you elaborate on what U.S. Squash did that they should take a bow for?

  2. david the greatest female squash player? does the name heather mckay ring any bells with you?

  3. Heather McKay certainly deserves serious consideration, but I feel the female athletes of her day were just not as good as the kind you find today. So Nicol David, and also Sarah Fitzgerald, had to fight against better athletes and more of them. McKay was a stupendous athlete, and would have likely been the best in the world no matter when she played, but David and Fitzgerald (my runner-up) have had to fend off much steeper competition. McKay is my #3. But its a tough call; they are all close in my estimation.

    As for the question of US Squash, I know that organization has raised an outsized share of the funding needed to hire the bid consultant who is overseeing the sport's presentation to the Olympics committee. The consultant, Mike Lee, has been a successful supplicant to the Olympics committee before, and his knowledge of the process will be vital for success. US Squash has also been working extensively with the World Squash Federation behind the scenes to create a cohesive strategy. As you can imagine, one of the sport's strengths is the many countries in which it is played. That's also a weakness though, since the multiplicity of opinions that necessarily ensue from such a diverse group of playing countries can easily lead to a cacophony, with no coherent message. Think herding cats... US Squash has been active in many steering group meetings, roundtables and discussions over strategy, optimizing the viewer experience and televisual presentation, etc. etc. They've done a lot. Let's all hope they will be successful.


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....