Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Unbeknownst to probably most of you, the Michigan Squash Racquets Association (MSRA) has been a ‘rogue’ entity for the past 7 years at least. They have been unrecognized in the eyes of US Squash. Why this has been so hard to rectify is as inexplicable as it is illogical to me.

The reason behind the separation lies in the fact that the MSRA refused to abide by one of the US Squash rules of membership payment. Simply put, no state association is allowed to offer state only memberships. They must provide full membership to US Squash which in turn includes the state membership. For some reason, the MSRA decided 7 years ago to allow players to sign up as Michigan squash members only and if you wanted to join US Squash as well, you had to register separately with them. The dollar difference? $50. Per year. MSRA annual fee is $25, US Squash annual fee (which includes MSRA) is $75. Not exactly budget breaking.

One of the misgivings holding the unification back is that asking MSRA members to suddenly pay that $50 per year more, that most of them will bail which will in turn leave them with too few members to survive. Firstly, it shouldn’t even be an option, and secondly (at the time I am writing this) there are already 100 people who are MSRA and US Squash members. (22 of which are juniors.) And that’s currently with the option. I agree that some MSRA members will stop paying, but I doubt there will be the mass exodus that some naysayers are predicting. The number of members is already at a survivable level. Recent discussions have brought this issue to a head. While progress was being made within the MSRA board to re-align themselves with US Squash, it has now been thrust upon them with a do-or-die ultimatum.

I won’t go into the details of what that ultimatum was, but suffice to say that the MSRA was looking down the barrel at a very perilous situation. Cooler heads are prevailing and now the ball is rolling in the correct direction.

Soon, the MSRA once again will back into the ranks of the US Squash world. Exactly where it should be.

I am sure many of you are asking, “why is this necessary?” To what benefit is there for the MSRA to align themselves with US Squash? For an extra $50, not including the US Squash magazine every member receives monthly, who cares? All US Squash members receive access to their website and all its member features. They receive a national ranking and rating, can contact other US Squash members around the country, and enter US Squash sanctioned events. Unless you travel to play sanctioned events, on the surface it doesn’t sound like much, but you would be supporting the sport which is extremely important – and in turn that supports Michigan squash too.

US Squash in return already support squash in this state. They provide grants in excess of $20,000 to NUSEA – the national urban squash program who pass on some of that money to help support the Racquet Up Detroit program headed by our own member Derek Aguirre. They also donated $500 directly to the Racquet Up Detroit program through the recent Fundraiser that was held at the DAC on May 14. The pro event ‘Motor City Open’ run at the BAC every year will be part of the US Open Series and will receive national promotion and sponsorship dollars. This is nothing to be sneezed at. And we should be supporting them in return.

However, before we all bow to our knees, reach for the sky and pronounce that we are ‘saved’, much work needs to be done. It’s no secret that Michigan is not the squash Mecca of the US. We do not have hundreds of players playing countless tournaments, nor do we have hundreds of players participating in travel leagues. In fact, the participation level is rather abysmal. Travel league consisted of 2 levels this past season only and a total of 15 teams. Of those 15 teams, only 1 was from the DAC and 1 from the BAC – the two biggest squash clubs in the state. Convincing our members to play in the travel league has proven to be more difficult than convincing the MSRA board to abide by US Squash regulations.

Aligning the association is a big step forward. With all parties pushing down the same path, focus can now be turned to increasing participation. Many things need to be addressed and fixed. Travel League for one, which also now faces another major predicament with the new strict club rules imposed on all Life Time Fitness (LTF) facilities. Many of the teams in the current travel league stem from the LTF clubs around metro Detroit. Without these teams, the league would simply die. However, LTF management (US wide, I presume) have implemented a stringent guest policy (including guest fees), insurance policy, court scheduling policy with team rosters submitted in advance just to name a few hurdles the MSRA have to navigate over. They are basically giving the impression to the MSRA that the travel league is not welcome in their clubs. Suggestions to move the travel league format from the once a week (during the week) schedule to a weekend and then only using the major clubs (DAC, BAC, Windsor and Franklin) have been made and will be discussed over the next few months.

Other topics for improvement include the website; how to increase participation in MSRA run events such as the skill and aged level singles and doubles tournaments; better and more efficient communication amongst all squash players in Detroit and Michigan; how to utilize the tools US Squash offers for all associations with their on-line ladders, leagues, rankings and ratings; increase membership; better scheduling.

I encourage each and every one of you to join US Squash which includes your MSRA membership too. Go to their website listed below. If any of you are in our box ladders which we run through the US Squash website then you are already in their system. Supporting the national body also supports our local one. If you are a squash player, then this is one of the best ways to ensure this sport will thrive in this state. At that only means better competition for you. In the end, everybody wins.

US Squash:
Racquet Up Detroit:

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