Are Women worth the same money as Men in Squash?

Before I give you my two cents worth on this so called ‘Debate’ that has somehow gained some traction on websites recently, I want to say ‘Hats off’ to Kevin Klipstein and US Squash.
Kevin and I don’t always see eye to eye, but in this matter, in my humble opinion, he and the association are streets ahead of the competition.

Now to the heart of the matter: are Women worth the same money as Men in Squash?

First of all, I assume this discussion – it’s hardly a debate – was triggered by one of the rising PSA players’s twitter comment.

It was certainly inflammatory. I don’t know if it was a serious comment based on thoughtful consideration, on weighing up all available evidence, on consideration of the effect of the remark. I rather think not. But I didn’t make the remark so I don’t know for sure.

What I do know is that Women exact every bit as much pain and effort from themselves as Men do in pursuit of excellence in our sport.

I have been coaching this sport Man and Boy since 1976 when as a high school player I started helping out other team mates and friends. In the intervening time I have been privileged to work in some capacity or other with the following players at some point in their development: Alex Cowie, Cassie Jackman, Omneya Abdel Kawy, Michelle Quibell, Louise Johnson, Amy Gross, Julia Beaver AND Chris Walker, Tony Hands, Del Harris, Mark Chaloner, Julian Illingworth, Paul Millington, Mark Heather, Robbie Lingashi, Ahmed Hamza, Josh Schwartz, Rishaad Pandole.

However long or short my interaction with these players was, I can guarantee you that there was no discernible difference in how hard they tried – everyone of them gave every last drop of effort that they could muster.

Every professional Squash player, whatever their gender, is contributing toward the development and success of this sport.

If you try and value one gender above the other you are failing to understand the intangible nature of the contributions that both are making to society – your society.

You may as well say that a good father is worth more than a good mother. Think about that for a moment.

If we don’t value the Women’s game as highly as the Men’s game we fail to understand our own origins.

As to the practicalities of the matter – well there is no doubt that it is much more practical for club coaches to show the average club player the game by using the WSA and the Women’s Professional tour as an example because the average club player can relate to what they see there.

Not many people can easily relate to what Ramy Ashour is doing – because at the moment he is pretty much the only one doing it. Even his opponents are having a hard time relating to it!

But this is not the point – the point is that we want Women and Men to be valued for their contributions. Their contributions are different – the proverbial Apple and Orange – but equally valuable and equally necessary.

But in the case of Squash – we want to equally reward those that are the best Apples in the world and those that are the best Oranges in the World.
So far as I am aware there is no standing competition where Apples compete against Oranges – nor should there be.

Without giving Women equal standing in society our societies fail. Consider the countries where war/persecution is still prevalent. Consider the countries where Women have parity. Then think about which societies you would prefer to live in.

Without the Women’s game, there is no Men’s game in the long run and even in the medium term – without the Women’s game, the Men’s game would degenerate into ugliness.

In all things balance – no Ying without Yang.

So either you support parity for Women, shouting ‘Vive la difference’ from the roof tops or give your mum a call, and see how she responds to your idea that she isn’t worth the same as your dad.

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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.

23 responses to “Are Women worth the same money as Men in Squash?”

  1. Mainser says :

    Bang – that’s the sound of a nail being hit on the head – well said, sir – hope Ben comes on to comment

  2. Edson Silva says :

    I’m 100% on board for this approach. The big difference with other sports is that regardless of gender, matches are played on a 11 points best of 5 games approach for everybody. So squash is not making rules different as of a Tennis GS where women play best of 3 and men best of 5. It is often unfair to women that most of the publicity of sports targets the men play and women are left as fill in the open slots of time. Female tennis is actually very enjoyable and spectacular as well as competitive, no difference in squash. We are often excited about witnessing Ramy Ashour’s dominance, but truth is Nicole David’s run is far more impressive, the level of athleticism she has been imposing combined with her racket ability is amazing, and Egyptian spectacular playing style is also being mastered by their ladies. So yes lets make squash a leader in this approach.

    • millmansquash says :

      Thanks for this Edson. However – even with the best of 3 versus best of 5 I don’t believe that the discussion is relevant. Again I go back to the Apples and Oranges analogy. We are trying to reward the best Apples and the best Oranges. Not compare them. We need them both – we need the fathers and the mothers, the sisters and the brothers. And we want them to be the best they can be – individually and separately, as much as each other – not one more than the other.
      Cheers for your interest and contribution!
      Richard

  3. Pierre Bastien says :

    Kudos to US Squash and Delaware Investments for taking this opportunity to support the ladies.

  4. Robert Stevens says :

    Sentimental emotional nonsense. You’re not comparing apples and oranges, you’re comparing two athletes playing the exact same sport with the exact same rules – where one group of athletes is clearly better and more entertaining to watch, hence why far more people are willing to pay to do so, hence the increased prize money. It’s basic economics.
    Instead of acting all outraged and spouting all this hot air, why doesn’t someone confront the uncomfortable truth that the women’s game is of a very poor standard? Outside the womens top 5, the rest are barely men’s county standard. Physiological differences can’t even be blamed, as the gap between men and women in power based sports like tennis is far less than that in Squash.
    Women want equal prize money? Do something about it and increase the standard. Meaningless ramblings about ‘mums and dads’ is just an emotional smokescreen taking away from the fundamental issues.
    Kudos to the players brave enough to stand up and say what the vast silent majority believes – the all too predictable personal attacks illustrate exactly why intelligent debate on these topics is never allowed to happen.

    • millmansquash says :

      I have approved this comment – so that there is a good example of the masogynistic thinking that we are fighting against on hand for comparison.

      This type of thinking stopped women from getting the vote for years.

      Richard

      • Robert Stevens says :

        Very noble of you to ‘approve’ a comment that runs contrary to your crusade – does this mean that others have been censored?

        Expecting you to address any of the points was probably a bit much however – the standard hysterical nonsense of ‘masogynistic'(sic) accusations and laughably inane comparisons such as women getting the vote (really??) are the usual recourse of those confronted with uncomfortable truths.

        How about everyone loses the emotion and the name calling, and engages with a rational debate based on facts? Male squash is of an infinitely better standard than women’s squash, and until the standard of the female game is dragged up to a closer competitive standard they have no right to appeal for parity. Discuss.

      • millmansquash says :

        Of course rude and irrelevant comments are censored – I have no time for people that are irrational or simply spammers.
        Personally I think you are missing the point – The US Squash association – wisely in my view – have elected to encourage the best women in the world with equal rewards as they attempting to encourage the best men in the world.
        By this decision they have declared that they value excellence in both the men’s game and the women’s game equally.
        To say that the Men’s game is infinitely stronger than the Women’s game is just nonsense – even if it is just a turn of phrase motivated by your particular bias.
        But enough from me. You clearly don’t respect the logic of my commentary and I have no overlap with your viewpoint which I consider to be dated and contrary to the evolution of a healthy sport and a healthy society.
        More important perhaps is that we hear from others who can highlight their justification for believing that women’s squash is deserving of equal prize money with men’s squash. I hope that others on both sides of the argument will contribute reasoned replies here.
        thanks again for taking the time to write.
        richard

  5. bwcoleman says :

    Good article that.. I think it was written very well! I actually enjoyed reading it.
    For me personally, of course this has been blown up so much from a slightly naive initial opinion from myself.

    I’d be silly and not telling the truth to say that I’d thought of every possible angle or consequence to what I was saying.
    For me, it is genuinely not a sexist thing.. I don’t care if they are women or men, people who know me will know that, however I just personally feel that the men’s game is far more popular than the women’s, therefore brings in so much more revenue. I accept that I could be wrong and it’s completely fair play and probably good for the game that the women have equal prize money now but it was just my opinion.

    I’m happy to be honest that since saying this I’ve learnt a few things about the game and the popularity of the men’s AND women’s game. At the end of the day, I love the sport and want to succeed in the men’s game.
    The difficult thing and possibly stupid thing was posting on twitter, because even when I’m getting ridiculous replies that are so far off the point I was making, I’m not getting into a debate in 140 characters on twitter. I appreciate this article though, good stuff.

    • millmansquash says :

      Ben,

      Thanks for being a great sport and replying. Many people wouldn’t have had the balls to stand up.

      I think your comments here speak for themselves without further comment from me.

      best

      Richard

    • Sarah-Jane Perry says :

      Great response Ben.

      Your original tweet made me think about the subject and, like you say, twitter isn’t the place to have a debate. Debate is a good thing when both sides are thought out and rationalised which is not possible in 140 characters.

      I have a lot of respect for you and particularly what you’ve written above. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but needs to be careful not to generalise and that’s exactly what you’ve done here, big kudos.

      I hope that we can grow both the women’s and men’s tours, increase the opportunities for players starting out and get squash into the mainstream.

      • millmansquash says :

        thanks for this comment Sarah Jane.
        I would still like to see a well thought out WSA commentary on why they believe that Women are worth the same prize money as Men. Not to be repetitive but I have expressed my view and the success of Billie Jean Kings campaign is legendary. But I think a definitive rationale from both the WSA and the WSF would be both helpful and a necessary tool for growth.
        thanks again
        best
        richard millman

  6. Melody Francis says :

    Thank you for this article Richard! It is such a lift to hear a man coming in to bat for the women’s game, after reading all the comments from the younger boys on twitter I was bitterly disappointed that this attitude was so prevalent.
    Your point about ringing your mum and asking how she feels about being worth less is so true. I just cannot fathom how these boys, who were brought on to this earth by a woman, think that these sort of comments are warranted. Especially as they have nothing to back up what they are saying.
    What US Squash has done this week is a sensational achievement and I cannot believe that it has been tarred with this blatant negativity. So again, thank you for putting in to words a concept many have struggled to articulate and for focussing on the positives of this week!

  7. Le Sport (@Le_Sport1) says :

    Most of us want parity, but if more money is to be put into women’s squash, then surely it would be better utilised if it were to go into more events for the benefit of the 250+ WSA players. There are scarcely enough events on the WSA calendar and so what the women need is equal numbers of events on the calendar as opposed to equal prize money at each event. That way more female players may start playing on the tour and the tour would become more successful. At that point we could go for equal prize money.

    In an ideal world we would have equal prize money now, but we do not live in an ideal world.

    I don’t see why it has to be assumed that these boys see their Mums as worth less than their Dads just because they don’t think prize money should be equal.

    My son doesn’t play professional squash, but my daughter does. My son has just left school at 16 to play professional football. In my opinion she trains harder than he does, but he will probably make more money than she does within a short space of time. So is that fair? Not really, but that’s life!

    My son doesn’t think that female footballers should receive equal pay to the men, but that doesn’t mean he thinks less of me than his Dad – which is what is being suggested here. Is everyone honestly saying Arsenal Ladies should be paid the same as the Arsenal Men!

  8. Squasher88 says :

    Thank you for this, Richard. Excellent.

  9. Graeme says :

    There’s no arguing with your sentiments, Richard, but they’re not based in any sort of economic reality. If everyone was valued and remunerated equally for a job well done and effort put in, we’d need to live in some sort of Utopian/Communist world. Which is a whole other debate!

    A house cleaner may work just as hard as a cardiac surgeon, but the market for their services dictates that the surgeon is far better remunerated. Possibly a better analogy (accounting for learning/training): a history professor might do just as much pre-/post-grad study and subsequent research as an orthopaedic specialist, but chances are the specialist is going to earn a lot more money (thanks to us crazy squash players flogging ourselves and ruining our knees and hips!).

    At the end of the day, the prize money won by squash players comes solely down to demand for their services, and consequent revenue generation. That more people are willing (or people are more willing) to sponsor PSA events than WSA events is a simple market reality that cannot be argued with. Whether this reality is morally correct… is a can of worms not worth opening; markets exist for all manner of things that are morally unsavory. Maybe squash players should simply be grateful there is prize money at all. Given that squash events don’t generate any money and (in general) exist solely because of generous sponsors, squash players are probably doing pretty well. Compared to tennis or golf for example, which attract enough viewers and broadcast rights that events make profit and sponsors line up to be involved.

    This brings me back to Richard’s sentiments; they are nice, and I am sure very few people would disagree that women are deserving of the same amount of prize money as men based on work and training. But there’s more to it than that.

    An important fact to remember is that we’re not talking equal PAY, we’re talking equal PRIZE MONEY… big difference.

    • millmansquash says :

      Hi Graeme,

      thanks for commenting. I understand the basis of your market place based argument but have to disagree with your explanation.

      We are talking about US Squash’s decision to OFFER equal prize money.

      By OFFERING equal prize money they have made a statement that Women’s Squash – in their eyes – is as valuable as Men’s Squash.

      There is no arguing with that – THEY value Women’s as much as Men’s and of course I – and many others agree with them( see James Willstrop’s piece on Squashmad.com today).

      We have free will. You can say that life isn’t like that but I am afraid that is not true. Perhaps most of life isn’t like that ( just as once upon the time Women didn’t have the vote), but when people stand up and say that something isn’t right and keep saying it – then things can change – even the market place.

      Thanks for contributing,

      best

      Richard

  10. Mike R says :

    How goes it Richard? Arrived at your blog via some Martin Pearce comments on FB. As to the question. I think you/us/we may be asking the wrong question.

    The reality is this. Squash (and every other paid sport) is part of the entertainment industry. The public pays money to be entertained, and it is that pool of cash that flows to the various elements that make it all happen.

    Should everyone be paid the same amount? Not in nature, right? Should women be paid more than men?

    Sure… If the public are better entertained by them. It would be nice if the extras get paid the same as the stars, but always it comes back to who do the public want to pay their hard earned crust to see?

    Anyway, the courts on the Eccles Field seem an eternity ago, I hope you keep well !, mike

    • millmansquash says :

      Hi Mike,

      Terrific to hear from you. Where are you now?

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      The discussion was started by a tweet from a young English PSA player – Ben Coleman.

      This was his tweet:

      @ben_coleman91: I’m sorry but I completely disagree with their being equal prize money in the @USOpenSquash
      Not a sexist thing! #usopensquash

      As a result lines of battle were quickly drawn up and various people contributed – as you can see from the previous comments here and elsewhere – including a comment from Ben himself which I thought well conceived although I didn’t personally agree with his stance.

      But in my assessment here is what it all came down to:

      In his following justifications Ben explained that he felt that Men’s squash commands greater revenue and for this reason in his opinion Women shouldn’t be paid the same prize money as men.

      It may or may not be true that Men’s Squash commands greater revenue than Women’s Squash – I don’t personally have figures to hand although anecdotally I am pretty sure that when Andrew Shelley was running the WSA ( called WISPA in those days) he helped the Women outgrow the PSA rate of increase in tournament sponsorship quite drastically – producing and selling a better product that attracted more interest for sometime – but that’s just an opinion.

      Equally I think it may be a fact that there is now more revenue in the Men’s game than in the Women’s – again I don’t have the facts.

      However this is not the crux of the discussion.
      The meat of the matter is this:
      Ben stated that he didn’t think that the prize money should be equal.

      Other people then extrapolated their justifications or disagreements and several of them completely failed to recognize the origins of the the argument.

      Whether or not Men are paid more; have greater revenue; have greater earning capacity etc etc is a completely irrelevant discussion in this instance.

      The basis of the discussion was Ben’s assertion that Women shouldn’t be paid the same prize money as Men.

      This goes to the heart of the matter. Not are they currently paid less.
      Not do they create less revenue. But SHOULD they be paid less.

      And here is where each of us has to offer our basis for support or opposition.

      From where I sit it is a societal values matter. US Squash has CHOSEN to offer equal prize money. I don’t know for certain the basis of that decision, but the net effect is to identify that US Squash values the pursuit of excellence in Women’s Squash equally to the pursuit of excellence in Men’s Squash.

      In other words this statement shows that they value Men and Women equally.

      In my view this has nothing to do with the market place and earning potential. The choice to state that Women and Men are valued equally in the game of Squash was the choice of the tournament promoter and I am in agreement with them.

      If a person wishes to state that Men Squash should be valued against Women’s in terms of their revenue production they are welcome to do so.

      In my opinion it is an ill conceived path to follow as it unerringly leads to the impression that Men will be given greater value/worth than Women.

      Is it the current status? Perhaps. But is that a reason to continue in that direction?

      Do we wish to encourage Girls/Women as much as Boys/Men?

      As long as promoters and sponsors have it within their capacity to offer the same prize money to both Men and Women I believe that they should do so.

      Clearly they may not have the capacity to do this.

      But if they have – then, in my view they should.

      Beauty as always is in the eye of the beholder. Do that many more people enjoy watching Men’s Squash than enjoy Women’s Squash.

      I doubt it.

      But even if that were the case that is certainly not what is bringing the revenue in. If it were we would really be in trouble.
      Can you imagine running the WSA and the PSA on net proceeds of the media?

      Entertainment is a long way from being the basis of funding for Squash.
      Personal relationships, business relationships, enthusiastic participants persuading friends – these are the sources of our income.
      Advertising revenue is marginal and even with these – Men and Women are at least as salesworthy as one another.

      OK enough rambling. Our days at Greshams’ do indeed seem a lifetime ago. But my passion for our sport stems from those cold damp courts on Eccles field and so I will never forget them, nor you and Gawain and Nick Chesworth and Channy.

      best

      Richard

  11. Mike R says :

    Hey Richard, good to hear back. Sydney and knocking the ball about still with the usual intermittence that Anno Domini dictates!

    Nah…. “Personal relationships, business relationships, enthusiastic participants persuading friends – these are the sources of our income.” is no way to properly fund something. While it is the reality, it is chump-change in the scheme of things and rather grace and favour?

    Anyway, lets not get caught up in all that. I like the passionate and articulate way you speak about one of the great sports. A game for life and one of the great games of life I deeply believe.

    Channy, I have alway wondered what became of him, he had a noticeably smooth stroke production didn’t he :)… The others I am in touch with off and on (See, what a great School and game eh?

    atb, and if you add this continent to your travels any time soon, lmk, mikey

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