BY Alan Thatcher
Sadly, news emerges that the IOC vote to nominate golf and rugby sevens for the 2016 Olympic Games was decided before squash even made its final presentation to the IOC.
WSF Olympic Bid Co-Ordinator Dr George Mieras, writing in his official report on the WSF website and here on SquashStars, admits that a well-informed insider had let slip that golf and rugby sevens had been agreed on as far back as June.
IOC chief Jacques Rogge subsequently claimed that the sports had been selected in Berlin because “they would bring extra value to the Games.”
Those remarks were discussed in my last column, but one glance at the nations represented by the 15-man IOC Executive Committee responsible for the nominations may also give a clue as to the likely outcome of any voting procedure, whether genuine or otherwise.
As well as the Belgian Dr Rogge, the other officials came from Greece, Japan, Germany, China, Singapore, Italy, South Africa, Norway, Switzerland, Mexico, Namibia, Morocco and Puerto Rico.
Now, Squash hardly makes a ripple in any of those countries, and in some, the Squash communities, small to start with, are showing signs of decline.
So it hardly needs an Einstein to work out that our sport was never going to make much of an impact on such a collection of individuals, no matter how professional the presentation.
As I mentioned in my last column, we need to find ways to expand our global base in terms of participation numbers, and completely rethink the way the professional game is marketed. Hopefully both ends will meet somewhere in the middle as we seek to raise the profile of Squash.
By becoming stronger at all levels, we can dream of becoming a sport that can stand on its own two feet, attract major sponsors, deliver value to those companies by creating fantastic tournaments that generate extensive media coverage and attract newcomers to the game. And not worry overmuch about the Olympics until we can show that Squash can provide the kind of commercial value obviously required by the IOC.
TWO SCORING SYSTEMS ARE NEEDED, AND A NEW BALL
The introduction of PAR11 scoring is causing raging controversy throughout the UK, with the leading club players happy to adopt but members lower down the leagues absolutely against it. Sean Hayden, who plays league squash in both Surrey and Middlesex, writes with some interesting points about the choice of scoring systems, plus his views on the double yellow dot ball.
I just wanted to make a few points about the scoring system that has now forced its way into both the Surrey Cup and, from next season, the Middlesex League.
I personally think that Squash is a poorer game for it and I completely agree with you that there is no harm and more benefits in having two scoring systems in place.
My biggest argument is this: The PAR scoring system was brought in primarily for the spectators at PSA tournaments. I don’t know about other leagues, but in both the Surrey and Middlesex First Division leagues in which I play the only spectators we get are your team-mates, who are anxious for you to hurry up and finish, and possibly one of the opposition’s bored girlfriends who has been dragged out of the house against her free will.
Another example to show how following the pros has led to a deterioration in the game is the ball. The double yellow dot was introduced for the professionals and the upper levels of Squash.
These days, even during the midst of winter, you see the ‘beginners’ in the eighth team, where the average rally is TWO shots, STILL playing with a double yellow dot. It’s ridiculous.
Anyway that’s my 2p worth. I must say I do hope this scoring system continues to be debated and is reviewed nationally in a year’s time.
Alan Thatcher is a journalist, Squash’s No.1 TV commentator, a tournament promoter and a club coach. He is also busy with a sports club he recently co-founded in England (called TriSports) which provides sporting opportunities for young people, especially those who are homeless, unemployed or disadvantaged.