By Anne Bello
Published Feb 14, 2012 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Feb 13, 2012 at 8:50 PM ET

College Squash AssociationNorthampton, MA — One of the unique aspects of college squash is that players officiate matches. The referees for college basketball games, for instance, are hired by schools to officiate. This goes for non-conference regular season games as well as championship finals. In college squash, the players almost always mark and referee, even for major matches.

Marking and refereeing demand sound knowledge of the game, careful attention, and a commitment to fair play. Making the right calls can be challenging even if the referee has no personal connection to the players; making the right call against a teammate and friend when the entire match is on the line is even harder. That so many players do make the right calls in difficult situations should be a point of pride for college squash. That being said, there are times when even the most conscientious players make bad decisions on court or as markers and referees. Such decisions can compromise fair play, ruin the experience for those involved, and reflect poorly on the sport as a whole.

Competing for a national or division title at the National Team Championships put additional pressure on players, making it harder to uphold high standards of behavior and fair play — and making it all the more important. To make sure these standards are upheld, the College Squash Association has instituted a roving referee system for the men’s and women’s National Team Championships. At each event, there will be a tournament director and a site director.  Three referees will circulate and observe matches to make sure players, markers, and referees are behaving appropriately. Players will continue to be the primary markers and referees, but the roving referees will issue warnings, strokes, and other penalties as warranted if they observe inappropriate behavior. For the the championship final (“A” Divisions), the roving referees will officiate the matches. All teams will be warned before play starts that the referees (student or roving official) will move to an automatic stroke at the first sign of abusive behavior. For championships, players are reminded of the following rules and guidelines:

  • Approved eyewear must be worn in any practice, warm-up, or competition (singles or doubles). Standard eyeglasses may not be worn in lieu of approved eyewear, even if the glasses have plastic lenses. For more information, see Eyewear Rules.
  • Markers and referees are supposed to be neutral. Cheering for teammates while marking or refereeing compromises that neutrality, and markers and referees should not applaud or verbally encourage players. For more information, see Marking/Refereeing.
  • Players should always make their best effort to play the ball rather than playing to create stroke positions. Referees should not reward players who fish for strokes. For more information, see “Best Effort Let and Fishing for Strokes” under Lets/Strokes.
  • Inappropriate on-court conduct includes but is not limited to verbal or physical abuse of an official or player, racquet or equipment abuse, visible or audible obscenity or profanity, and time wasting. For examples of these behaviors, see On-Court Conduct.
  • Players are not permitted to waste time between points or between games, and referees should ensure that play is continuous. Time wasting includes but is not limited to delaying the game by untying and tying shoes, repeatedly wiping eye-wear, walking around the court between points, fixing hair, etc. Players should be reminded that only 90 seconds are allowed between games, and players, markers, and referees should all be on time for the start of the match and of each game. For more information, see On-Court Conduct.

All players on both varsity and club teams should be familiar with the World Squash Federation rules and the CSA’s rules and guidelines, which can be found on CollegeSquashAssociation.com. Spectators should also be aware of their role in creating an atmosphere for fair play. Examples of inappropriate crowd behaviors include banging on walls during and between points, disruptive talking and cheering during points, and delaying play between points with prolonged cheering. The verbal or physical abuse of players, markers, referees, spectators, or coaches is never acceptable. Spectators who engage in such behavior will be warned and may be asked to leave.