Yes we have no Olympics, we have no Olympics today.

So the day came and went and Wrestling – as undeserving as it clearly was when considered as a new sport – stole back the place that it had lost and returned to the fold that it had occupied since the games were held in Delphi.
Squash, played in just about every country in the world, with all its qualities of teaching life-skills, offering health benefits both in mind and body, advancing participants in their lives etcetera etcetera, returned to its uncertain position in the wilderness.
Why?
We may well ask.
Here are some thoughts on some of the things that we may well do to become more deserving of inclusion.
And by the way, before I begin, this is not intended as a purely denigratory piece. I love Squash and have been passionate about it all my working life. I have built successful programs in the UK, Holland and the USA. I have coached on four out of the six continents, and pending the arrival of Squash in the Antarctic , that just leaves me with Asia to go. I have been a national coach and the national director of performance, chair of the men’s national committee, a member of the executive committee of US Squash, a county captain, managing director, club owner, Cornell’s Head Coach, and a committed player. So I don’t think anyone can question my passion for this game.

But.

Having had all this experience I do feel that I am uniquely qualified to be self critical on behalf of the game that I am so inextricably linked to.

So here goes.

First of all, we are not a mainstream sport in enough places in the world.

Australia, New Zealand, the UK and one or two other places managed to get Squash into the mainstream for a while. Particularly in the late seventies and eighties.

But a lack of understanding of how to run Squash as a business has resulted in a boom becoming a bust in those countries to a greater or lesser extent.

In Australia, which arguably had the greatest talent pool per capita at one point, my understanding is that there has been wholesale closures of courts and that there is hardly a full time Squash coach that can earn a living.

In Britain the sport has been propped up by lottery funding but the National governing body has had little concept of how to help the sport to be financially viable, churning out any number of level one and two coaches to minister to less and less participants.

Clubs that once were numerous in Britain have seriously declined with inter-club league play – the lifeblood of the sport – almost entirely having disappeared in many areas.

The governing body is not entirely at fault as their personnel have no experience or training in the field of Sports Program Direction or Development and thus as administrators are sadly impotent when they have lost the participants that they seek to administrate.

New Zealand in some respects has managed to hold on to more of what they had, but I am sure even there many folks look back, teary-eyed, to ‘the good old days’ when Dardir El Bachary had something like 9 All Blacks in the world’s top 20 and club Squash was a bubbling exciting part of the vibrant sports life of the country.

In the USA, despite valiant attempts to start Urban programs, the game remains largely the bastion of the wealthy, with the Ivy League Universities and their immediate rivals, wealthy private schools, country clubs and businessmen’s club’s being the mainstays of the sport. And thank goodness for these institutions because without them Squash would be dead.
The governing body here does not have the benefit of the lottery system in the UK, but does have the benefit of the USA’s amazing number of millionaires and has very successfully cultivated and nurtured this group with resulting bountiful benefit.
However, it could be argued that the money spent on Urban Squash, while benefitting some deserving underprivileged children, might better have been spent developing Squash as a mainstream sport, building facilities that were accessible and affordable to all and that, in the fullness of time, would have brought the greater benefit to all participants as, once accepted as a mainstream sport, the accompanying notoriety would have helped the Olympic cause and the resultant insurgence of capital far more.

Rumors abound as to the IOC’s disaffection for the then USSRA after it is said that certain members of the association snubbed the IOC, but whether or not this is true our current challenge is to make Squash a mainstream sport the world over, so that the stigma of being a niche, upper crust game, is no longer a barrier to acceptance.

What are the issues at stake?

These of course vary nation by nation but have many similarities and need a cohesive approach from all concerned.

First of all we need to see the big picture. Right now we have so much parochial behavior that we we can’t get out of our own way.

England Squash and Racketball. This name is utterly crazy in terms of the big picture. In one fell swoop and without any research, England Squash alienated the biggest economy in the world – the USA.
No one in US Squash wants even a taint of the word Racketball or Racquetball, but because someone in the UK thought that the game of UK Racketball should be included – they changed the name. Even remedial questioning of someone in the US would have led to the discovery that this would be a barrier to the development of the sport – and by the way – the game that has the ridiculous name of UK Racketball – is a terrific sport that just might be the savior of Club Squash and participation numbers the world over.

Why not put a little more thought into it? Why not do the research?

I’ll tell you why. Because Squash doesn’t yet exist globally, it only exists nationally and as long as National Governing Bodies can only see the local picture, they will make decisions which are to the detriment of the the global picture.

If someone had had the presence of mind to call UK Racketball – Big ball Squash – and bring it under the Squash umbrella, then all of this nonsense could have been avoided and England Squash could have continued as England Squash, the wonderful game known as UK Racketball would have been branded as Squash and would have been embrace the world over – particularly in the USA where it could have helped make the sport a mainstream sport, and thousands of Squash players who feel that their aged knees/hips could no longer stand Squash and so are relegated to the golf course, would have continued to play – because there is little or no joint stress in Big Ball Squash as I like to call it ( UK Racketball).

But no.

Now we have egos invested in UK Racketball and England Squash and Racketball’s name and in US Squash’s abhorrence of all things Racketball and in US Racquetball’s abhorrence of all things Squash and through the usual lack of international communication, the whole things is a balls up of disastrous proportions, with the World Squash federation avoiding the whole thing, even though the director of World Squash and one of the senior executives play both versions and love them.

This of course is just the tip of the iceberg. The pride of one National Governing body in attempting to do what they think is best for their nation getting in the way of dialogue to ascertain if their decision making will be good for the Sport as a whole.

And this is the view of Squash that the rest of the world and the IOC are presented with.

This is just a typical example.

In the USA we need to find a way of building cheaper facilities which are accessible to Mom and Pop and Main Street, USA.

Our national governing body prides itself on having developed participation numbers – but who are the people that we have caught in Squash’s net? The top two or three per cent of the wealthy?

What message does this send to the IOC?

In my research I have discovered that you can build a basic Squash court for about $5000 ( three thousand three hundred british pounds) out of basic materials available at any Home Decorating/ Do it yourself store.

In a city like Philadelphia which has a wonderful Squash tradition, there is almost nowhere for Main Street America to play -even if we put some effort into developing the sport.

My friend Dominic Hughes’s Club Berwyn Squash and Fitness, just outside Philly helps local public schools to play. But that is the exception – not the rule.

I don’t want to exclude the top 2 per cent – they offer us fantastic support. But we have to do something about the other 98 per cent.

Until Squash can be spoken about at least in the same vein as Tennis and preferably as T-Ball and Soccer – how can the IOC ever take us seriously?

We have other issues too.

National Governing Bodies have got to admit their lack of competence in the area of professional Program Direction and Development.

It is simply hopeless to continue churning out qualified coaches in the hopes that someone might show up to take lessons.

We need properly trained Sports Program Directors who know how to recruit, animate, train and retain participants.

England S and R are under perennial threat of losing their lottery funding if they don’t achieve participation figures.

Instead of blindly carrying on with the same futile administrative policies and hoping that by some miracle people decide to start playing Squash, get help from someone that knows how to train young people to be Program Directors and Developer. People that are trained to go out into the community, into schools and colleges, police stations and fire stations, doctors offices and community centers, evening classes etc and who can sell Squash to them.

Administrators don’t sell. It’s not their job. They administrate. Get a properly trained sales force in place. One that has excellent after sales service.

Otherwise kiss your funding goodbye.

In the US put money into Main st. There are so many opportunities and so many potential funding sources. We will help the sport and a lot more people by bringing the sport to the mainstream as well as trying to continuously reap the low hanging fruit. And if we reap much more low hanging fruit we will kill the fruit trees.

I think you can see the point I am making here.

Globally, local Squash has got to do a better job of considering decisions in light of the affect those decisions will have on the game as a whole.

I know it’s not easy. Local problems are immediate and seem urgent. But it’s no good putting a bandaid on a problem that is systemic. And we have amazing knowledge and resources world-wide.

As the saying goes: ‘ Think Globally – act locally”.

That way everyone will benefit.

Richard Millman
Friday Oct 4th 2013

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About millmansquash

Richard Millman, a world renowned Squash Professional, has trained children, high school students, and adults to achieve all levels of proficiency and realize the enjoyment they derive from squash. A multiple time National Coach for the United States, Richard has steered many teams to championships and successes! His students include British Junior Open Champion, Michelle Quibell, as well as multiple National junior and adult champions. With his wife Pat, England’s 2010 Captain of the Ladies over 55+ team, and 2010 US National Champion over 55, Richard brought his vision and enthusiasm for this sport to the United States. A regular contributor to Squash Magazine, Richard is also the co-author of "Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids," with Georgetta Morque, and "Angles, A Squash Anthology." Richard's 30 year love for Squash is infectious. His love for kids is infectious. Put these two loves together, and you can't help but want to get involved as well.

21 responses to “Yes we have no Olympics, we have no Olympics today.”

  1. jose alonso says :

    Hi Richard: I have not been to a major (world-class) tournament recently, maybe things are better now. However from previous years my experience (purely as a spectator) has reinforced one of the comments I have heard in the past about Squash as an Olympic sport:

    Until top level players learn to respect referees and not question almost every call in an argumentative manner, squash cannot hope to become recognized as worthy of an Olympic berth. I heard an anecdote of an IOC member invited to come to a top level tournament somewhere in Europe, who was horrified at the behavior of players and disrespect for referees.

    As I say, maybe things are better now, I understand video replays are now common, but maybe this has not helped. I do think it is an endemic problem.

    Jose

  2. Doug S. says :

    Richard – an outstanding summary of where we are in the world of squash. One thing you left out in your commentary is the IOC’s directive to “standardize” the sport from top to bottom, including the scoring system in order to make it a more attractive Olympic Sport. Now that the dust has settled and we are still left out of the olympics, the recreational player has been left a scoring system (par11) that has taken much of the fitness out of a match, and has made the typical tourney match as long it takes for a pro tennis match to finish a tiebreak. I often talk to pros who are slotting 15 minute slots for junior tournament matches. Like you, I also have a unique perspective on this sport in that I own a club that once housed 25 us racquetball courts in the late eighties. With advanced technology, this racquet sport which at its peak had 25 million players slowly lost the fitness element that attracted so many people to it in the first place, and once it became a game of kill shots, it died.
    Squash, a sport that I have loved for 25 years, and continue to play on a daily basis is slowly burying itself with bad, short term and short sighted decisions that are earily similar to those made in the late eighties for US racquetball. I fear that if the scoring element is not addressed hard and soon for the junior and recreational player, squash will follow racquetball into that of a completely irrelevant sport in the future.

    Doug

    • millmansquash says :

      Doug – thanks so much for this. I am in agreement with you. I think Squash still has so much to learn from Racquetball about how to become ‘Mainstream’.
      Of course I understand that the historic cultural differences and actual differences between the two sports have bred rivalry but it seems such a shame. UK Racketball – almost unknown here in the USA requires more cardio vascular fitness than squash when played by club and masters players and is a terrific cross training sport – with almost no joint stress . Perhaps it is a future Olympic sport?
      Meanwhile the petty arguments will thwart all of us if we don’t collaborate and move forward.
      Best

      Richard

  3. Rich Schafer says :

    Richard,
    Thank you very much for your honest assessment of where squash is right now and how the sport could address some of its deficiencies.

    I have loved squash for 30 years — as a player, spectator and parent of a player. However, squash does not deserve to be in the Olympics until it addresses the “let” fiasco. The sport tried to simplify the game to IOC standards by jettisoning the HIHO scoring system that worked perfectly well for 99% of squash players. On the other hand, squash did not address the insanely complicated “let, no let or point” rules that very few referees, let alone spectators, fully understand. How would replaying points over and over again play to the masses of new squash spectators that would tune into the Olympics? This is the major problem for new spectators to the game. I have tried to initiate friends to watch top level squash and the let rules baffle all and have by and large thwarted my attempts to recruit new people to the sport. As a challenge, take an unitiated person to a match and see how frequently this issue comes up in dialogue. What makes matters worse, is the arguing and bickering by top players with the referee. It’s embarrassing. Ironically, the top players have no reason to have so many lets called or requested. The top players can control the ball and their movement. Yet, the top level players are the most frustrating to watch. Go see a US college match and there are relatively few lets and very few arguments about calls. Go see the best in the world and you’ll see far more of both. Until these matters are addressed squash will not be “spectator friendly” and, therefore, not be coveted by the IOC. Of course, PST has tried to address this problem by introducing a “no let” system. It might be perfect, but at least it’s an attempted solution. However, US Squash has ignored and ridiculed this innovation.
    Rich

    • millmansquash says :

      Hi Rich
      great comments!
      As you rightly highlight a confusing issue and yet if we want mainstream acceptance one that must be solved.
      We have a problem of understanding that is also part of why this is such an absorbing sport. Like chess, yet more so, the number of complex choices that must be understood create maelstrom of opinion. Young athletes full of vim and vigor and in particular superhuman ability are complex combinations of naïveté and power – certain as they are that they understand the logic of the game – of course they have spent vastly more time playing than thinking and as a consequence, like so many bulls in china stores attempt to force their views. Conversely we have almost no refs who have ever played and understand the elite level. At what point will these sides find agreement?
      Ego and adrenalin are poor bedfellows for subtlety and nuance and indeed are often either blind to them or simply refuse to admit to their existence.
      However this in a nutshell is our major challenge: to get players and officials to understand precisely the subtlety of what Hashim meant when he talked about ‘Hashim versus Hashim’
      By playing against himself Hashim learned that, in order to get to the next ball he had to be on his way into position momentarily before he struck his current shot and that he had to play at a pace that kept him in the game otherwise he was too late to get to the next ball. In this discovery lies the whole issue of lets – if a player is already on their way into position to cover the opponent’s next shot just prior to striking their own shot – and providing they play tight – it is almost possible to impede the opponent BECAUSE – if you have already left before you have hit the ball you can’t be in the way – because you ain’t there!
      Trying to explain this to people who have been repeatedly taught to hit the ball BEFORE they move is a real problem – they are so brainwashed and refuse to believe it is possible.
      But Hashim did it all the time and now Ramy is doing it ( you never see him stand still and hit the ball he is always on his way to the NEXT situation unless he is tired or has lost focus).
      But try explaining this to people who spend almost all their time playing and following someone else’s advice and almost no time thinking deeply about it.
      The result? An unbelievable melange of miscommunication that is the state of competitive officiating and rules observance today.
      Can someone please help?
      Can someone please listen?

  4. Ed says :

    Great insight. As a club owner in Toronto, I am amazed how little thought is given to attracting non-players. There are no learn to play systems or support for the people, who actually own courts. I do all my own grass roots marketing without help from any administrative body. Any big money pro events end up being played in venues, which target wealthy people, usually in the financial world. All governing bodies should map out a “get on court” action plan. Build the sport from the bottom up, not top down. The new players will fuel tv, pro squash from the bottom. Squash is a sport, which you have to play to want to watch. Therefore, more grass roots players, more fans, more money for pro squash…More money in pro squash, more mainstream media and tv….more tv, more grass roots players…

    I know many club owners who view squash as an afterthought, not a unique product to sell, with very little competition. Squash is a high retention sport, and people pay a premium for court time once hooked. Oddly, it is actually quite affordable in a commercial club compared to other sports, but seems expensive to a non-player, as the value is not understood at first glance. The conversion to understanding this value, is months, which speaks to learn to play programs, which are affordable and require no annual commitment. Squash offers my business more revenue per member than fitness. As for tennis, which we also offer, try heating a 25,000 square foot space in years to come, not even considering the rising costs of land in urban areas. Converting new squash players, gives me high value, high retention members.

    As a club owner, I am determined to figure out the squash sales cycle to convert a hig volume of NEW players. Not steal from other clubs. Anyway, sorry for the rant. Just that, yours, is perhaps the best article regarding squash, I have read from any source of media!

    • millmansquash says :

      Hi Ed,

      Thanks so much for your reply.

      Your comments strike a chord and I think it important to highlight that things would be even worse if enterprising Club owners like your self hadn’t have taken on the mantle of Squash sales and brought on many new participants.

      It seems a shame that with so much marketing and development talent within the sport that we can’t get the NGB’s to replicate these ideas and create a cohesive program for bringing on board new participants.

      We need to use the young talent coming out of colleges and teach them how to market our sport and to animate great programs that entertain and retain Squash players for the long haul.
      Coaching is great once someone comes in your door – but we need to know how to go out and get ’em.

      Cheers

      Richard

      • Ed says :

        Thanks for the reply. Hopefully, there be interest in attracting new players to the sport in a strategic way, with the basic ideas of sales, advertising and marketing.

  5. Mainser says :

    Can someone point out to me where in the rules it says the game MUST be played PAR to 11? I must have missed it somewhere. The only place I know it to be part of the rules are in SOME, NOT ALL, sanctioned competitions. Most non-sanctioned events I play in are PAR to 15 and the average match times have not changed in comparison to Hi-Ho to 9.

    • millmansquash says :

      Good point Mainser.
      And I am on record as saying that in my view – once players have become habituated to any scoring system – it takes pretty much the same amount of time for two players of similar abilities to determine who will win.

      Comparisons of HiHo, Pars 11 and 15 match times between players of similar levels don’t show a vast differentiation.

      Where I do have some sympathy is for players ( often Masters players) who really struggle to acclimatize to PARS 11 and who end up with short matches.
      Overall I feel that PARS is a more exacting system because right from the very serve – your focus has to be sharp. You can’t serve out and can’t attempt thoughtless winners without consequence.

      Anyone that thinks that this leads to a lack of shot making hasn’t been watching Ramy lately.

      It just means that when you decide to attack you need to assume that your opponent will definitely get the ball back and position to cover all possible returns.

      • Rioch says :

        I have to respond to some of these comments which are in direct conflict with facts. 1. There are zero sanction tournaments in the US and Massachusetts squash that invite PAR15 as alternative scoring. Therefore, the sanctioning bodies are enforcing a one size fits all scoring system on girls under 11 competitors and players of Ramy’s capacity. If Mainser is playing mostly non-PAR11 matches, how come the governing bodies don’t sanction and invite alternative scoring? By the way, most other sports do not have the uniformity that squash is now imposing on its participants. I can give you a myriad of examples from other more successful, i.e. more popular sports. 2. A major point of PAR11 scoring was to shorten matches. Look at the history of the adoption of the system. Pro players wanted it to save themselves for later matches in tournaments. It (PAR11) might make sense in that context, but not at all ability levels across all types of events. 3. The argument that matches aren’t shorter in PAR11 versus HIHO9 just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Read “Run to the Roar” and all the matches described in the book where many college matches lasted two hours. This never happens in collegiate squash anymore. Check out the matches on collegequashassociation.com. Further, I ran junior tournaments under both systems. Under PAR11, we started scheduling younger age groups’ matches for 20 minutes and we still had court time to spare. That never happened in HIHO9. Is that fair to competitors who have travelled distances and spent money to compete? 4. An out serve matters in HIHO. Just because you don’t lose a point doesn’t mean it is without consequence. If a player didn’t serve out the player might have scored a point. Now, the player would have to win a point just to get back to the same level as before the missed serve. Also, there was a lost opportunity to score a point when the serve was missed. 5. It doesn’t necessarily increase mental focus to play PAR. In HIHO there are far greater chances for a comeback. Therefore, an early streak in a HIHO game creates outcomes where the losing players saves himself or herself. You see much more tanking in PAR games than you ever saw in HIHO. HIHO invites intensity throughout a game, regardless of score, thereby putting mental pressure on competitors. 6. Mathematically, PAR11 and PAR15 cannot have the same length games. That’s like saying the college basketball game of 40 minutes and the pro basketball game of 48 minutes are the same length. It’s impossible.

        Finally, I never once had a discussion on scoring when the pros played PAR11 and the rest of the world played HIHO9. It was a change that had no reason at the recreational level. When I have tried to introduce new players to the game by taking them to college squash matches the two questions that I always field are: 1. Why was that a stroke and not a let (or vice versa) and (2) is the match already over? If we want to expand our sport we have to address both of these very serious challenges.
        Rich

      • millmansquash says :

        Hi Rich
        Thanks very much indeed again for taking the time to comment.
        I don’t agree with everything you have said but I can’t say that I have empirical evidence to refute your points and indeed I think the conversation is worthy of much more thought and a broader audience.
        To that end I am going to write a piece to be published on Squashmad.com to open the conversation to the global audience.
        Would it be OK if I quoted you or would you like to write a short viewpoint so give breadth to the discussion?
        Thanks again for your insight.
        Best
        richard

      • Rich says :

        Richard,
        You can definitely use any information or quotes from above in your article — no problem at all. I would like to correct point #5 above as my observation is that PAR11 has more games conceded than HIHO. Also, as to Mainser’s point — I have tried many times to have the sanctioning bodies (US Squash and Massachusetts squash) loosen up their guidelines. However, please note that even in US Bronze tournaments for juniors (basically beginners), these sanctioning bodies are still united that PAR11 is the only way to go. I have had very limited success with Massachusetts squash for flexibility in league matches. Finally, take a look at the results of the US Open today, the best players in the world going against each other and there was one match out of 8 that went over an hour. I am not against PAR per se, what I am against is a scoring system that completely takes conditioning out from the recreational players arsenal of weapons and at the elite level making the matches too short to build much competitive tension. The vast majority of recreational PAR11 matches are over in less than 30 minutes. Therefore, there is a problem with the system. I have statistical analysis of match lengths if you are interested. It is not the PAR part of PAR11 that’s the problem — it’s the 11 part. PAR is fine, however the number to reach to win a game must be adjusted so that fitness and fun are not diminished. The one size fits all of PAR11 negatively impacts the fitness and fun aspects of squash for most players. That is the real shame of the present status quo.
        Rich

      • millmansquash says :

        hi Rich
        Would really appreciate it if you could publish the statistical analysis here. I think empirical data is so important and outweighs opinion most of the time.
        Thanks again for contributing.
        Please read the other comments that have come in too – I think there are more valid observations and we may perhaps get some traction if enough people voice their views.
        Best
        Richard

  6. Mainser says :

    Rioch, I can’t speak for your local sanctioned matches – you need to take that up with whoever sanctions them. There is NO rule in the WSF rulebook which says the game must be played either way, it’s entirely at the discretion of the governing body so PSA prescribe PAR to 11. Most of the vets matches in the UK (including the National Championships) play with HiHo (I think it’s only O35 that don’t)

  7. dafyddbh says :

    These are all great discussions, and I think they have an important place in moving squash forward – whether to the Olympics, or to a more cohesive set of standards. So thank you, Richard, for sparking the conversation.

    To me, the issue remains fundamentally one of access and participation. Rule changes, scoring systems, lets and so on happen form time to time in virtually every sport, for a variety of reasons. And players adjust. Just as they do to changes in technology. Focusing on these when also trying to strategize ways of introducing new people to the game seems counterproductive to me, and intimidating for non-players.

    I heard once that for the US to have the same number of public courts (i.e. in community centers, recreations centers, YMCAs and public clubs) as Canada – which is where I played national level squash as a junior and adult, and where I coached for many years before ultimately moving to New York – they would have to build 100,000 courts. An unbelievable challenge/opportunity!

    The game is growing in this country, faster than ever. There are hundreds of young players in junior and urban squash programs who will enter college and make the squash team. But unless they can afford a private club, where will they play after they leave college? Where will their home club be? Where will they bring their children to teach them this great game?

    Building a squash club in an urban setting is a daunting prospect. The costs are enormous; the returns are modest. It is one thing for me to want to devote my life to developing a club and a community, to training young players as coaches, and to programming the heck out the courts to make bank. But it is another to ask people to invest knowing that their returns will be more like bread rising than popcorn. Still, I think that this is where the focus needs to be.

    It’s a tough nut to crack, but until Joe and Jane can actually get on court, none of our other discussions will make the critical difference. Some ideas, although I know there are dozens more and better: get courts back into the hotels that are being built and into community/recreation centers. Get permission to build outdoor courts that are multi-use in city parks. Create investment products that make their money some other way in order to fund/donate to new construction…

    • millmansquash says :

      hi David
      thanks so much for this commentary.
      I am one hundred percent with you on the access and affordability point.
      I have just been talking with some folks from Sandiago where there Urban youth program has won a $1million prize plus a $million matching grant and will be building a community access center in an area of mixed demographics that will provide Squash for all.
      My fellow blogger @brettsquashblog and The Squash center in NYC are attempting the same thing. My friend Todd Bowden has managed to get MacDonalds to invest in Squash in rural mining towns in Australia.
      The skills are out there – the funding can be found – we need a cohesive and well directed program/plan of attack.
      I think your challenge of 100000 courts would be a terrific rallying cry.
      Let’s keep talking and see if we can get some traction!
      Thanks again

      Richard

      • dafyddbh says :

        Hi Richard.

        Agreed. There is a lot of innovative potential in the community. The challenge for us is to develop a compelling vision for the game. Despite everyone’s absolute best efforts and the genuine affection for squash that was presented to the IOC, squash still came in third in that vote.

        I am also one of the people on the board of the Squash Center in New York. And believe me, we are going to continue to work towards making that happen. But each city/location (not just in the US, but worldwide: http://squashmad.com/interviews/interview-squash-must-copy-skiing-to-avoid-going-downhill-says-wolfgang-denk/) needs to come up with its own value proposition according to their own circumstances and opportunities. Wouldn’t it be great to have a kind of clearing house of ideas, information and contacts to support them?

        And no, I am not hinting – well, not really… 🙂

        David

  8. jstever@comcast.net says :

    Richard,

    Just got around to reading your post. Excellent piece that goes along way toward understanding “22” votes, behind both other candidates.

    To refresh, I attended two days of your night class at MSW, summer of 2012. I am the squash guy at the U of Minnesota – instructor, team coach, club driver, director of SquashScholars before it morphed into Beyond Walls.

    The point I emphatically agree with is making squash accessible to the masses in the US. I am doing minuscule things at the U, like bringing juniors in on Sundays (not same kids as Beyond Walls), but even then, they are kids in families that can afford club memberships. I believe the best opportunity to create momentum in Minnesota is to build outside courts in the parks right next to the tennis courts. If kids can play anytime (ok, during the 7-8 non-snow months) they will and the follow-on will be pressure on the private and public schools to build courts.

    So first off, please comment on my approach. Then tell me more about your $5K court design. And if that design does not work outdoors, help me find information and resources for outdoor courts. I have not dug deeply yet myself. But you are the first person I have known (outside urban squash) to make an argument for democratizing squash and with a little mentoring and encouragement, I can get energized.

    Thank you for the article, Richard. I look forward to any comments or suggestions you may have.

    John Stever

    • millmansquash says :

      hi John
      Thanks so much for your comments and thanks equally for what you are doing for children.
      The $5k is for the cost of materials (3/4 inch ply sheets for both floor and walls, paint, 2×4 support beams and flooring joists etc) and refers to an indoor situation where an existing building is available.
      As to outdoor courts please contact my friend and fellow pro Steve Polli who built a successful outdoor court in Burlington Vermont.
      good luck!
      As you saw in a previous comment David Hughes has called for 100,000 courts in America – i hope we will soon see some more movement in this direction.
      richard

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