Thursday, February 25, 2010


Firstly, I am somewhat astonished at the extent of the media coverage – worldwide - this has generated. Although I really shouldn’t be given the technological age we live in but when I was told that squash was on ESPN a couple of days ago I almost fell out of my chair. Really? Squash on US mainstream TV? Wow, I thought – what a coup for the sport. Of course, that initial excitement lasted about 10 seconds after I saw the video of Trinity’s number 1 player – 6 foot 5 inch Baset Chaudhry – celebrate his (and his team’s win) by an outrageous display of poor sportsmanship towards his 5 foot 7 inch opponent from Yale, Kenneth Chan.

If you haven’t already seen it, copy and paste this link and take a look at this clip. It’s self explanatory:

Over the past couple of days, more information has come to light – along with a video of what lead up to this now infamous incident. This clip shows Chan getting in the face (or upper chest!) of Chaudhry in the second game. Not very respectful of the lad, but in my opinion, hardly as vicious as Chaudhry’s exhibition:

Now, I don’t know who made this particular clip or who edited it, but I would bet a lot of money it was a Trinity fan. A lot of effort was put into making Chan’s transgression look worse than what it actually was. The slow-motion piece was totally unnecessary.

Okay. Both players were out of line. There was apparently a lot of trash talking going on during the match as well, but comparing the 2 confrontations, Chaudhry’s behavior (to me) is by far the greater evil here. Firstly, he just won the match easily. It wasn’t as if the match went down to the wire and both players were exhausted physically and mentally. (Not that that would be an excuse.) That’s like US Women’s hockey team spitting in the face of the Russians after annihilating them 13-0 at the Olympics. Secondly, he’s almost a foot taller and probably almost 100 pounds heavier. What a bully. Thirdly, he’s 25 and should know better. And fourthly, no matter what had transpired leading up to it, there is absolutely no excuse for Chaudhry’s actions.

That being said, we have all been at some time guilty of letting our emotions get the better of us and losing control. I will be first to put my hand up and admit that I have, in my youth, conducted myself dreadfully on the court and lost my temper. Looking back on my misbehavior, I still feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself – but I’m grateful that it wasn’t taped. Sadly, the difference with Chaudhry’s lapse of judgment is… that it was.

Check out this clip from ESPN ‘analysts’ who have probably never heard of squash much like mainstream America.

I felt sick to the stomach that the first time squash gets on this program is because of this ‘misdeed’. The analysts are giggling like school girls all the way through the segment, doing nothing but poking fun at the sport. Squash is virtually unheard of in the general public in the US, and first impressions last a life time. To all the millions of Americans who saw this clip – and squash for the first time – I dread to think what they think of squash now!! For a sport fighting for exposure – especially in the US – this to me is a step backwards.

By all accounts, Chaudhry is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. (Although I have never met him myself.) This is so far out of character for the man and his coach, Paul Assaiante, is just as bewildered as anyone else. Apologies have been made all around, but should Chaudhry be punished? I think he should. Unfortunately for him, it was caught on video and has made its way across the globe and to television and has dragged the sport through the muck. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation; Chaudhry has taken a second to destroy it. What his punishment should be lies in the hands of the College Squash Association (CSA), but these guys are not professionals and do not get paid so a monetary fine is out of the question for the athlete (maybe not for Trinity?). Suspension? That would be the next logical step. The CSA is expected to rule on this in the coming days, but if nothing comes of this but a slap on the wrist, that’s an appalling precedent to set.

Regrettably, incidents like this in college squash have happened before. See this article relating to an incident this season at Dartmouth College involving fans heckling players from Harvard:

The CSA need to nip this in the bud before it gets out of control. Squash matches are not football or basketball games and fans and players need to respect their opponents with decorum and conduct themselves appropriately. Cheering is one thing, as soon as it becomes personal, it moves into another stratosphere. Especially in this politically correct world of the U.S of A.

And no matter what happens on court, after the match, that’s where it should stay – on the court. Shake hands, thank your opponent for the match, buy them a drink… basically, act your age.


Post a Comment

Search This Blog