Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And So, The Time Has Come ...

I had spent about a year trying to rehab my right knee, but after suffering continued pain I finally consented to undergo repair of a meniscal tear in early October. Now it's three months later and, unfortunately, there is still significant pain upon exertion. 

When the orthopedist got inside the knee he noticed a microfracture and, surprisingly, osteoarthritis (since he had earlier said there was no sign of arthritis). I have a grade IV deformity of the lateral femoral condyle, in fact, and a nice case of runner's knee (i.e., chondromalacia patella). 

With all that, I had to also consider my family history. My brother had to get hip arthroplasty in his late 40s. My mother has bilateral knee arthroplasties. My half sister wins the prize with one knee, hip and shoulder arthroplasty each. These surgeries are all caused by osteoarthritis, which seems to be a family curse.

I played a test match in squash about 2 weeks ago and the result was a win for the Squashist, together with an unfortunate realization: It took me 4 days for my knee to recover from that match, and that sort of stress on the knee is just not tenable if I want to remain active.

Later, after recovery, another test, this time a tennis match on a Har-tru court. Tennis is easier on the joints, no question, and the ability to slide on the Har-tru makes for a still reduced amount of knee stress. A day after the tennis match I felt fine.

John Musto, the squash pro at the Princeton club, who is for my money the best teaching pro out there, has said that he can retrain me to take smaller steps that will reduce knee strain. However, I was taught way back when to use my height to cover the diagonal in 3 or 4 long strides, and so to retrain my approach to movement would at least take months of hard work -- which my knee doesn't have in it!

I want to remain active for as many more years as possible before I get what I think will be an inevitable knee replacement. But that time will come a lot quicker if I stick with squash. So, painfully, I've made the only decision that makes sense: I have to hang up my squash racket and call it a day. 

For me, squash is without doubt the best of the racket sports, and the greatest individual sport there is, truly. I loved it the very first time I thwacked an American hardball on a cold New England court back in the winter of 1974. I've had a pretty good 40-year run, and along the way I've met a lot of great players. I will greatly miss playing the sport and meeting its people!

I will discontinue this blog since I feel a squash player, not an ex-squash player, should be commenting on the game. The good news is that there are enough bloggers and news sites out there that squash-obsessed players can readily get their fix. I have increasingly relied on DailySquashReport.com to get news and views (and even squash-related fiction!) about the game, and there are many good bloggers out there with some interesting things to say.

Keep playing (as long as you can!) and good luck.

James Prudden

A/K/A "The Squashist"
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Monday, December 30, 2013

Digital Squash Magazine Not There Yet

I've been trying to keep my yapper shut for a while to give the magazine time to get over the inevitable miscues of a new publishing endeavor. But the time for caution has past.

I have complained about Squash Magazine before, but I was very hopeful that the new arrangement with US Squash, in which the two "merged operations," would benefit both the magazine and, probably more importantly, the website. The magazine, despite being peppered with grammatical and layout mistakes, is demonstrably better, although it still suffers from reportage based on events that have happened too long ago to make for scintillating reading. But there are new elements that have appeared and the overall tone has improved. So, okay ....

The website for the publication, which was nothing short of pathetic before the merger, now is, well, still pathetic. In viewing the site on December 30, I see a series of articles, all of which are dated October 1. There is a column dubbed "Recent Posts," which again lists articles dated October 1. There is the slight saving grace of a column labeled "US Squash News" that does indeed have more recent items, but who is going to bother to look for these few items when the rest of the homepage screams October 1, fully 3 months earlier?! It's a shame.

I had hoped that the involvement of US Squash would include some concern about the website and its presentation, but that is clearly not the case. If so, then please god kill the site. Why have it available when it is an embarrassment? I don't get it. 

The website has its own tile ad on US Squash's homepage, so clearly the organization wants readers to go there, but for what? 

My (unsolicited) advice: Kill the website until there is the time and money to support it.

My even better (unsolicited) advice: Kill the publication, and put all your efforts into a great website.