Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Joe McManus and his PST (Pro Squash Tour) machine are at it again. Addressing controversial issues head-on and implementing rules in the attempt to squash the problem. (Pun obviously intended.) It has been almost 3 months since the DAC hosted their second World Championship, and still I get members approaching me hopeful that we repeat the event in 2013.

The tournament is a popular topic of conversation. For those who witnessed it first hand, spent personal time with Joe, the players, and the small PST crew, they cannot say enough positive things about it. I can do all the advertising and marketing in the world, but nothing beats the word-of-mouth.

The ‘no-let’ rule won our members over. The debate about how successful the rule is rages on amongst the squash purists and this article isn’t here to add to it. What I will say is that after talking to Derek Aguirre from the Detroit urban squash program “Racquet Up! Detroit” – RUD -, the group of kids he brought along to watch the semi finals were ‘blown away’ by not just the show PST put on (the music, the interviews, the interaction with the players), but also by the intensity of the matches and the infrequent amount of ‘let’ calls. PST gained a handful of young fans that day.

A big part of RUD teachings is behavior. On and off the court. It is basically a zero tolerance. Every single child from the RUD program I have met has been incredibly polite with perfect manners. One of Derek’s fears of taking the kids to pro tournaments is to have them witness player dissent on court. The arguing, the gesturing, the rudeness, is not an image he wants the kids exposed to. They look up to the pro players and want to emulate them. They are sponges and see and hear everything.

During our event at the DAC, player behavior was very good overall. Not perfect, as we did have the sporadic quarrel pop up now and then, but certainly not cringe worthy either. However, it seems that you cannot have one tournament these days go through without some type of player-referee incident. This isn’t (or wasn’t) just a PSA problem – PST has had its spattering of confrontations too. Nothing more infamous than the conduct game awarded against John White for arguing last season during the final of the Albany Open against Bradley Ball that cost him the match.

Now, with the new rule implemented by PST, arguing with the referee will almost be eliminated completely. (I say ‘almost’ because I am sure that in the heat of the moment, some will not be able to help themselves.) There is now a ‘zero tolerance policy regarding dissent’ in all PST tournaments. No more arguing, no more whining, no more wasting time in discussion with the referees. Accept the decision and move on. Or be penalized.

So is this good for the game? I know that some people love to watch players meltdown, go ballistic, throw tantrums, and carry on like five year olds. Watching someone make a complete moron of themselves makes us feel better about ourselves. We point fingers and snicker under our breath. (It’s probably why reality television is so popular!) What would baseball be without the occasional manager blowing a gasket at the umpires and getting tossed from the game? It makes all the highlight reels when it happens.

Another blogger wrote that he had never been to a match where the conduct of the players detracted from the quality of the squash, or he felt he couldn’t bring his own kids to watch. I cannot argue with his opinion, but I certainly cannot say the same thing. I have seen a multitude of matches where the altercations made me wince and feel embarrassed as a fellow squash professional. You see arguments between players and referees all the time. And why? Because even though the referees have the power to stop it immediately, they simply do not have the spine to do so. They allow the ‘talk-back’ to continue and players push the envelope often to the point of becoming downright rude and disrespectful.

Squash has no place for that. I have no problems if a player asks a referee why a certain decision was given in order for that player to adjust in future situations. But once the explanation is given, that’s it; it’s time to move on. PST has taken this step for one main reason and it’s not for the players. PST wants to be confident that if I invite RUD kids to watch, a member is accompanied by his family, or I bring my young daughter to a match, they will not be subjected to misbehavior. If professionals want to be treated as professionals, then they should act accordingly. Respect the game, the referee, the club, the sponsors, and most importantly - the spectators.

Here is the memo sent out to all the PST players regarding this rule: PST Memo
Do you like the new rule?

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