A dinner in Los Angeles in honour of Toronto Squash Professional Barbara Cooper, attended by Bob Hanscom, Debbie Brown, Orla O’Doherty, David Kaye, Ed Brooks, Michael Cahill and Rene’ Kern, gave rise to some fascinating insights onto what benefits squash would receive from making the Olympics, and why it’s imperative we get there.
First Barbara, host of Help My Squash Game.com and author of the very interesting mental training book “Double Up”, had this to say about squash becoming an Olympic sport in 2020:
“Having been involved in squash for over four decades, I have watched many sports become accepted into the Olympics over squash. It should be squash’s time now! Forbes magazine said it’s the healthiest sport on the planet – and as we are a global sport with both genders playing, I see no reason why squash does not merit entry.
“Having experienced World Championships as both a player and a National Coach, I know the value of these world class competitions to players, the sport organizations, the city of the competition and the sport’s future development. There can be no other choice than to vote squash a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games!
“I look forward to seeing squash get the exposure and recognition it deserves when this happens.”
Then it was the turn of Harvard Graduate John Dewis:
“One of the great virtues of athletics is that it need not be a means to some distant end: if people love a sport, what they probably want to do is play it. Squash happens to be the best way in the world to get fit, lose weight, get sharp, and feel great. But one doesn’t need to want those things to love playing squash. Success for many might be just a measure of how much you get to play, or how good you get, or an excuse to fully exert yourself in mentally and physically among great friends.
“As far as getting squash into the Olympics, therefore, it might be the case that we have lots of squash enthusiasts and amateur players who are busy playing and loving the game, reaping the many quality-of-life benefits, but for whom it is neither here nor there whether or not the sport has a bigger profile and specifically whether it ever becomes an Olympic sport. The problem is not immediately financial– there is no dearth of money in the squash community. What we are missing is a strong message that will galvanize the squash community globally, and we can start by telling people why it is paramount that squash become an Olympic sport.”
“One way the game has changed over the past decade is that more and more young people are playing the game, and from all regions and backgrounds. It’s a sport where the threshold to start playing is not high– you need some racquets and balls and a court and someone who already knows how to play. The urban squash programs popping up all over America are responding to a different kind of demand than before, and are cultivating a new agenda for the sport. This is not just a sport that professional elite or Ivy-league students play; it’s a way to get kids off the streets and into a regimen, give them a taste for focus and achievement, and equip them with the confidence and community that can and does transform their lives.
“For these kids, and the new squash agenda, the sport is not just a past-time for the lucky few, but a passion for an expanding, ambitious new crowd of athletes. This means the stakes are much higher for getting squash into the Olympics: those who stand to benefit the most are those who are just cutting their teeth on the game, and for whom the legitimacy and recognition that comes with Olympic excellence would mean that current ambitions would be hitched up to a bigger dream.
“Those of us who love to play, and for whom getting to play is already enough, we owe it to those who are coming next to tether an already world-class and world-beloved game to the kind of dream that will foster the ambition, and dignify it with the highest stamp of approval available.”
John Dewis is dean of the Episcopal School of Los Angeles, a start-up high school serving the heart of the city. He is responsible for developing a curriculum to get kids from all background on board to get an education at the country’s finest universities, and to develop the social consciousness necessary to make tomorrow’s leaders effective citizens. According to John, his ambition for 2013/14…to develop a squash team at/from the school!
Good stuff, we think. Feel free to comment on these thoughts, or add your own below …