Friday, May 10, 2013

PST Short On Sizzle

I'm on record as saying that the sport of squash needs to do something about the arguing, cajoling, ranting, raving, bickering and jaw-boning that occurs when lets and strokes are called in pro action, and the PST's attempt to do away with, or at least severely limit, these calls was I felt a welcome change. (That being said, the problem could also be addressed by encouraging refs to make it a rule to always adamantly squelch any dialogue and get the combatants to play the game or suffer the loss of points.)

The PST has set up their own tour, but because of on-going disputes with the PSA the players in the latter organization are not allowed to play in the former's events. Animosity developed over PST's marketing approach, which could be cheeky, to say the least, such as their referring to the winner of the annual show-down of the PST's 'elite eight' as the sports 'World Champion.' I don't know much about the politics of this situation and so won't comment on it, but I do know that the two groups are not ready to coexist.

However, this situation has led to a sizzle shortage in the PST.

Because of the PSA lockout there is a tendency in PST tournaments to rely on good local talent to fill out the card, so that good college players show up at the tournaments to get beaten by more established pro players. These are interesting matches as far as they go, but I could see a good match with some 5.5 players at my local club pretty much any day of the week -- what makes these matches tournament-worthy?

There is also a question of desire. I actually tuned into the web-streamed third-place match during the World Champion tournament and watched Mohamed El Sherbini take on Stefano Galifi. The match was not of particularly high quality and included two games where each player opted to hand the other the game. The worst was game two when Galifi, for reasons unbeknownst to this reporter, apparently gave up midway through the game and let Sherbini rattle off 7 or 8 uncontested winners. The next game, that situation was reversed. Sherbini won the match in 5, but those two games were some of the worst 'pro' games I have ever witnessed. 

So there is a question of desire, and that may have something to do with the purse, I don't know. But there's also one more factor you have to remember. His name is David Palmer. Palmer is still playing at world-class level, he could easily go back to the PSA and be top 15 without a problem, and better still with time. The fact is if he joins the draw in a PST match, and cares at all about the outcome, he's going to win. 

And that sucks the life out of the match, because it is like watching a story whose ending you know all too well. Great for Palmer; not so good for PST.

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