Friday, April 13, 2012


Maybe I'm missing something with the latest round of discussions about the "No Let rule", one blogger I believe has suggested a whistle for the referees. I adamantly oppose the PST (Pro Squash Tour) instituting the "No Let rule", it opens up the game to an aspect that potentially is dangerous. To me it's like saying football is a contact sport and spearing and other illegalities should be allowed, that penalties affect the game and make it less interesting to a fan base that doesn't mind opposing players carried off on stretchers. The rules are meant for a reason, to protect players. The Let or Stroke in Squash is meant to protect players and to maintain a fair level of play, penalizing players for blocking their opponent's path to the ball and protecting a player from being hit by racket or ball. What is really the issue is the referees in squash, specifically on the PSA tour, seem to compete with the players for who is right and who is wrong. That in and of itself is so subjective. The blogger who put on his site a lengthy Power and Nicol point which ended in a "No Let" much to the outraged and tantrum throwing Power was a great example of using the Let to bail out of a difficult situation. How Power could go on and on about the No Let is astounding because the video clearly shows he slipped and tried to hook Nicol into contact and a Let. This is example of poor sportsmanship and abuse fo the rule even though it was a togh call after a tremendously hard fought point. Don't allow abuse of the rules dictate the outcome of points, the game or even the match.

I am all for the review system as well as player appeals, but the word of the referee(s) should be the final word, period. If you look at the NBA and watch enough games you realize almost every player complains about every call. I love the NBA referees, they listen and as long as the player doesn't cross a threshold and abuse the refereen or delay the game it is ok. However, once that threshold is crossed, the refereen can call a technical foul enabling free throws (basically 90% advantage of scoring free points since the best free throw shooter takes the free throw penalty) and if that same player incurs another technical penality, he is thrown out of the game. Rarely do players cross that threshold, the outcome of the game is often decided by a few points. What the technical fould does is really keep the game moving along and keep the fouling player in check. If I were at the Poer - Nicol match I'd find Powe's tantrums embarassing. I wonder how he would change his behavior if Nicol was awarded an additional point and if Power having already received a "technical" for his abuse of the referee had only one more "technical" left before he'd have to forfeit the game or potentially the match.

I'd like to see something along those lines, any player has the right to question a call, keep it at a minimum, they often have valid points, but in the heat of battle, using the arguments with the referee to buy time or intimidate the referee should not be allowed. I like the review process should controversy dictate a review of the point, but for the most part, you have a Let in the game and you have a referee to uphold that rule, so if you believe in the referee system and the purpose of the Let give the referee the power to assess immediately techincal foul points if the arguing player is delaying the game or being disrespectful. And whether or not the PSA does this now, any player who complains about officiating should be duly fined. It's subjective, in the eyes of the referees, but curtail the challenges, the abusive behaviour, the misuse of Lets to put yourself in a better winning position. The players and their attitude in competition should be what determines the outcome of the game, the referees should be allowed to uphold the rules in the true sprit of fair competition and not subject themselves or the fans to the constant bickering, complainging, etc. on every call. Use the technical as a deterrent to extreme poor behavior. As a player, if you have a referee with a short fuse, don't argue the calls, don't challenge every No Let or Stroke call. Ultimately, if you play a hard match and have a melt down in the later stages, and are assessed technical points against you or even a game or ultimately the match, I'd suggest you go back to the drawing board and reassess the futility of such behavior.


Pierre Bastien said...

Thanks for sharing your views on this. The main argument in my post was that the players should not have the power to stop play. Only the referees should have that power. This would make the game clearer for spectators.

You're right to worry about safety. I'd say right now though, maybe 80% of lets are not situations where a player is in danger. They are situations where there's some incidental contact and the player going for the ball thinks, well, might as well call a let rather than be at a slight disadvantage. More often than not the let is granted, when they could have played through the contact safely.

The remainder of cases have more-than-incidental contact. In those cases, by all means play a let. I'm actually not sold on the "no lets rule" per se, though I haven't seen it in action yet. (And in the PST's defence, I think they still have lets in unsafe was well-spoofed here)

Now there's another part of this. I agree with you 100.00% that the referees should not let players complain too much before throwing the book at them. Taking the example of the J. Power tantrum that prompted me to write my post in the first place. I think if it were in the referee's hands to stop play or let play continue, s/he would have let this point play out, Power would've had to go for the ball, and the tantrum wouldn't have happened in the first place. As it was though, Power took his chances by stopping the point, and make a bit of theater out of it when things didn't go his way. Once the tantrum started, he should have been reeled in immediately. That didn't happen. In this case it's odd almost, because the referee makes the brave call of no let (like you, I also think it was the right call, but still in my mind a bold decision), but s/he lets the tantrum carry on.

I seriously doubt my idea would ever be implemented. Even if everyone thought it was a great idea (and this is not the case!), it'd be tough to "get there from here". More likely, the changes will be incremental. I think what'll more likely happen is the referees will jointly develop a more stringent attitude toward lets, and towards inappropriate behavior, and solve most of the problem that way. And as for newcomers to squash being confused when the players stop play...well, I guess they'll have to learn like we all did.

Thanks again for weighing in.


Squash from Delphi said...

Very well said...yes did get the main part of your argument and it is an angle never thought about, how a player can stop play. Aside from that, what is the real issue, it is the misuse of Let to gain an unfair advantage. I'd like to see referees be more of an authority and go back to the elevated chair they used to sit in. I'd like to see them put a stop to the complaining and bickering and sometimes abuse of the rule. Play on is clearly stated, play on, if the player doesn't penalize a point. Be very strict about this, the question should be one of clarification on the reason for no let, let or stroke not a justification. use replay or challenge/replay 3 times a game or something like that...but keep the game flowing and keep the arguments to a minimal.