Friday, November 11, 2011

Letter To The PST Commissioner

When I saw that the PST was going to announce a game changer on 11/11/11 at 11:00 a.m. I was hoping that it would be two rules changes (maybe three): do away with the No-Let rule; mandatory eye-wear for ALL players; and maybe for good measure changing the PAR scoring. While the announcement was not about any rule or regulatoion changes, and announcing the signing of David Palmer to the tour was great news, it would have been really great news to have included these rules changes.
The No-Let rule; I was watching a match last night from the Tuxedo Open and it was a match where the No-Let rule definitely came into play in terms of the outcome of play. The player, who will remain nameless, consistantly didn't clear, played back, and when there was contact seem to plead for sympathy from the referee because of the contact. The old rule is very simple. The player after hitting his or her shot MUST clear for the opponent. However, the rule is a bit gray if the player makes no attempt to return to the T, plays a very low T or is simply slow to get back because they are just slower than the other opponent or hasn't returned a shot good enough to allow time back to the T. When both players are in position the flow is very smooth. However, a tired player tends to hang back, not clear fully, and then just step into the area of play. While the rule is simple, it's complexity arises when the player, because of the other player not fully recovering back to the T doesn't allow the player to clear. The match I saw, this was what happened again and again. The referee observed the sympton but not the cause. One player was much quicker than the other player on the one hand and the slower player often blocked or didn't clear and on the other hand -- as the match wore on that "other" player drifted further and further back. The referee admonished the wrong player warning of unnecessary contact and played to the simpathy of the player complaining about the bumping and physicality. Because of the No-Let rule the advantage was to the player either not clearing or hanging back to get a jump on the ball in the back. The other player seemed flustered and really should have started redirecting the ball away from the area where the contact was occuring. But why should that player alter their shots because the other player takes advantage of this No-let. Many times in a game a referee will ignore the appeal of a player complaining of "incidental" contact, unless of course you 'flop" like NBA players do to take a charge or something. Unless the other players is a bit dirty and plays through his opponent rather than the ball, it's usually a legitimate let call. I think there's more potential for injury since players are forced to play through the contact, fearing losing a point should they call a let and it's overruled. My understanding, let denied point to your opponent, even though in your mind your opponuent may have been in harms way.
The answer to this is to realize the sole purpose of the let is to protect the players...whether or not it is abused or not that is its purpose. Cars are meant to get people to their destination as quickly as possible, safe and sound, no traffic signals or stop signs create chaos and accidents and are a detriment to driving. The same goes for this No-Let rule. Please do away with it.
My other major rule change is mandatory eyewhere. In this country we spend billions of dollars to enforce high standards of safety. Cetainly no other country spends more. Yet most squash professionals don't wear them. If it ends up saving the eye of one player wearing them it is worthwhile. This rule is safety, it's important, it sends a message to players and spectators, that safety is alwys first and foremost. Each organization is the sum of all its individuals and the individual is critical to any league and organization. If you put any individual at risk, implement the safety standard. Enforce it. Put this rule in effect, because we never want to be sickened by the loss of an eye especially during competition when it is easily preventable. Let's hope the PST isn't like City Hall and not put a traffic light in a dangerous intersectuon until someone is killed or maimed
Let me sneak one more in there...and this may be topic for a totally separate discussion. Let's settle this: PAR scoring has changed the game and has made it much less demanding for players. When you think of how the old scoring rarely produced first games under 45 minutes long, the strength and stamina required was Herculean. Yes that game was too slow as a spectator sport, but perhaps a compromise would be the old American 15 point PAR scoring....let's extend the game because after all this game is partly about fitness, endurance stamina, and attrition. Commissioner?


Anonymous said...

I take issue with your opinion of interference between a fatigued player and the outgoing striker. When considering the cause of interference between an outgoing striker and the incoming striker who is tired and hanging back and now colliding with their opponent (who is now retreating to the T), it's important to remember that the rules do not specify that the players are required to return to the T after striking. An opponent can literally be anywhere on court that permits the striker to hit their choice of shots. This is a common misunderstanding throughout squash. It is painfully obvious that a fatigued player not recovering to the T will create turbulent flow between players in the rally. But it is important for players to notice their opponents positioning on the court, as that is fundamental to a winning strategy. It takes a more aware player to realize that their opponent is hanging back and capitalize on their fatigue by going short. It would have been a different match if the player had recognized their opponent's disadvantaged position and capitalized on it by going short rather than continuing to drive deep balls that they were not able to clear for their tired opponent. The rules state it is the responsibility of the players to know their opponents positioning at all times. A better pro player uses that rule to win!

Anonymous said...

I attended the Ivy League scrimmage this past weekend. I watched dozens off matches. There was not a single match, male or female, in which conditioning played an apparent factor in the outcome. The PAR11 system has eroded that aspect of the game to be inconsequential. Take the lead Mr. Commissioner and change PST to PAR15. This squash fanatic will never pay money for another pro tournament ticket unless the scoring system brings the fitness element back.

Anonymous said...

As someone who plays college squash for a good team and a high position, I will say the fitness demanded is immense. I do at least 1 hour a day 5 days a week plus a session on weekends and then there's court time of at least 1-2 hours more each day. And if you look closely (as opposed from being someone in the stands) you'd would recognize that college squash players base their entire game around fitness. Shotmakers in college don't survive. They get eaten up. Look at GW's no.1 player.. fantastic hands beautiful shots. but would not get close to Todd Harrity who is one of the fittest squash players in the world. state tennis and cross country champion... and international squash player.. hmm fitness has dropped? Think again. it's just a different kind of fitness that is required now. Especially in the college game