After many countries played out their National Events during last week’s short International hiatus, it was back to action in the Premier Squash League, British squash’s foremost league competition.
I quite enjoy this aspect of squash; that it can be contested in different formats like leagues. It’s fundamentally an individual sport and therefore working tactically as a team as in hockey or rugby is not applicable. But squash is certainly played individually within a team framework.
The league structures that exist in squash are vital because they create atmosphere in the very hubs that represent the game’s roots; it’s an atmosphere of which many professional events are deficient and cannot capture. Often clubs and communities get behind players more in a team situation. People love following teams because the togetherness is the thing they follow, often rather than the sport or the quality of play, explaining how 30,000 people watch Newcastle United every week! A shared ritual that supports a specific cause is what we are all about. It might not even matter what the ritual amounts to.
Another format in squash is doubles, coming in for the Commonwealths in the summer. I can’t say I am quite as positive about this version of the game considering its rather dodgy history as entertainment; the rules have been tinkered with repeatedly in efforts to make it watchable and they have so far failed.
If we take this a little further, then to finally attain our Olympic place, rather than run around in the dark with blindfolds on trying to please the unpleasable monarchical committees of this world, we could introduce ‘beach squash’, as volleyball have done.
Or there could be mileage in a squash trickshot competition, in which the players could be subjectively judged on points as in synchronised swimming or ice dancing; players could even be encouraged to wear make-up and leotards to enhance the artistic element.
There are infinite possibilities here. Perhaps, as in ice hockey, fighting between players on court could help squash to win its Olympic place.
The introduction of weight categories could work (goodness knows that would be a big help to me) or like swimming and athletics we could have a whole range of distances or times for which to play, meaning we could be looking at a new type of ‘sprinter’ or ‘stayer’ player.
Somebody even recently posed the question: ‘Could squash actually lobby for the Winter Olympics?’ Anyone for squash with sweeping brushes?
Winter Olympic fever has so suddenly taken hold. No sport in the winter programme has had the slightest bit of attention before, but with the BBC ardently transmitting this estimable competition non-stop, we all follow.
The BBC big gun presenters did their best to commentate on sports they know nothing about, but their voices and faces are famous and add gravitas more than know-how. With this and the amount of coverage (and some British medallists), we are now all talking about speed skating and curling.
This sudden, all-out coverage shows how television and media can contrive interests we didn’t even know we had. Twitter and Facebook are then added to the mix, everything starts trending, all hell breaks loose and bob skeleton athletes are talking to Jonathan Ross.
Interestingly, accomplished athletes like Lizzie Yarnold and Elise Christie had careers well before the Olympics came along which is why it seems almost insulting that we only care about them now.
No doubt though once the games have finished we will all get back to Match of the Day and the subject of stupefyingly exorbitant wages of footballers.
And maybe the squash authorities can get on with devising a form of squash-on-ice for 2018.