Jul 2012

Televised Squash

I’ve a bee in my bonnet about televised squash. For one thing, there’s not enough of it on terrestrial television or Sky. But the main issue, which links directly to the first, is the unimaginative way squash is televised. I got it all off my chest in a response to a blog on ‘Squash and the Olympics’ by Brett Erasmus, which I accessed on The Daily Squash Report on July 1st.

Here’s the rant:

Brett, you're right about television. And this is where squash has to take a risk. We are all accustomed to watching the game from behind. We've grown up looking on from the trad squash gallery, at the back of the court. With all our experience we players can read the game from there. Anyone who visits Daily Squash Report can understand the nuances of the action from behind the players. We enjoy the regular cut to the backhand wall. We KNOW how hard those players are working. It may not look it but we've all been there and copped out with a weak attempt at a winner because we're too tired to do anything else.

But readers of Daily Squash Report are not the guys and gals we want to enthuse. We enthuse already! The people we need to capture are the folks on the couch, flicking through the channels on a wet Saturday afternoon, accidentally dropping into Nick Matthew against Gregory Gaultier, Nicol David against Nour el Sherbini. If we get these general sports fans, we get the big money sponsors. And squash will be IN!

What is it these sports fans see if they happen on televised squash in the present day? They see some admittedly not unattractive Aussie and Egyptian and Pakistani butts, and backs, and why are those guys and gals sweating so much in the close ups between points when they're just strolling round the court? Sure I can see some fast action from time to time at the other end of the court, but again, it's backs and butts, and it's too far away to appreciate the effort.

In seeking to promote squash, we should pay attention to our own publicity. Take a look at ANY shot of a James Willstrop or a Ramy Ashour or a Dipika Pallikal. Are we looking at the backs of these athletes' heads? Are we looking at them lunging AWAY from us, with their shoes artificially magnified by the perspective? No way! The drama of squash can be seen nowadays in the wonderful photographs of the stretches and dives and grimaces TAKEN THROUGH THE FRONT WALL.

It's a no brainer. The front wall photos are the ones we use, for obvious reasons. It plainly begs the question: why don't we TELEVISE from the front, with the other angles used for support and colour?

The detail has to be worked out. Technology will make it possible, the superb all-glass courts and modern videocams. The imperative is to televise squash at its most dramatic, where you can see the strain on the players' faces, you can appreciate the astonishing scrambling and you can admire the prodigious physicality. Television is the key to the sport's development, and we'll never succeed if we concentrate on the backs of the heads of our stars. It doesn't make sense.

It's time to take a chance. Let's show the FACE of squash to the world! I challenge the WSA and PSA to show some imagination. Take that risk! It will be the last piece of the Olympic jigsaw.

A Club From Hell

Ted Gross runs the go-to squash web site, Daily Squash Report. Ted has been very kindly serialising Sex and Drugs and Squash’n’roll on the site for the last three months. I hope anyone who followed the story on the site was minded to pay for the Kindle version, or the full-cellulose paperback with its crisp, high quality pages!

Maybe to assuage the withdrawal symptoms of his readers now that S&D&SnR has EXPLODED to its conclusion, Ted has assembled a group of squash luminaries, and me, to produce a squash story in weekly chapters. The story is called, ‘A Club from Hell’.

Steve Cubbins, noted photographer and SquashSite entrepreneur completed the difficult task of the scene-setting first chapter. Steve is co-publishing the story on the SquashSite. Mick Joint introduced a number of tantalising threads in Chapter Two. I’ve just emailed Chapter Three to Ted, and I hope it’s left enough hooks for blogger and squash junkie Will Gens to restore order in Chapter Four!

Go to http://www.dailysquashreport.com/ or click on the link above to follow the story, every Thursday. You can read the background to it here.