Northampton, MA — The College Squash Association is a proud supporter of squash’s bid to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Including squash, there are eight sports bidding for a place in the 2020 Olympic Games: baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wrestling, and wushu. The eight sports will present their case to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on May 29th. Three finalists are expected to be chosen, and the winning bid will be selected by the full IOC membership in September.
During their respective coaches’ meetings at the 2013 National Team Championships, the women’s and men’s varsity coaches each heard a motion to support the sport’s Olympic bid. There was no need for debate on the issue since all of the coaches supported backing the bid. The motion passed unanimously in both meetings.
The Olympic Committee will judge each sport based on seven criteria:
1. History and Tradition: Squash has a long history and tradition. Although a small part of the larger squash world, collegiate squash’s archives demonstrate the tradition and history of the sport. The Men’s College Squash Association dates back to 1931, while the Women’s College Squash Association was founded in 1970.
2. Universality: Squash is played worldwide, and collegiate squash demonstrates this fact. Student-athelets from around the world come to the United States to study and play the sport they love. In fact, last season there were at least 47 countries represented in the CSA: Australia; Austria; Barbados; Belgium; Bermuda; Botswana; Brazil; Canada; China; Colombia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Egypt; El Salvador; England; France; Guatemala; Hong Kong; India; Ireland; Israel; Jamaica; Japan; Kenya; Korea; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; Scotland; Singapore; South Africa; Sri Lanka; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; United Arab Emirates; United States; Venezuela; and Zimbabwe.
3. Popularity: Squash is a popular sport with a passionate fan base. Each season, the CSA’s Team Championships, an extremely small event compared to the Olympic Games, is held in front of capacity crowds at some of the largest squash venues in the United States. With squash already included in the other major international competitions, such as the Commonwealth, Pan Am, Asian, and World Games, it makes sense to include squash in the Olympics.
4. Image: The sport of squash is a worldwide sport that has the image of health and well being. Although it may be viewed as a sport for the upper class in the United States, over the past 25 years, the sport has been opened up to the masses. Urban squash programs throughout the United States have introduced squash to players from a variety of socioeconomic classes.
5. Athlete’s health: In 2003, Forbes Magazine declared that squash was the “world’s healthiest sport.” Wendy Lawrence, the head men’s and women’s coach at George Washington University and the president of the Women’s College Squash Association, has seen the health benefits for players of all ages. According to Lawrence, who has been coaching since 1975, “there are more US juniors playing now they are committing to playing and training year round and testing themselves against the best juniors in the world.” She has observed that junior players take the game into adulthood, and the health benefits last a lifetime.
6. International Governing Body: Squash is governed by the World Squash Federation. College squash follows the WSF’s rules of play. Middlebury head men’s and women’s coach John Illig, the president of the Men’s College Squash Association, states that “college squash, like all squash organizations worldwide, follows the World Squash Federation rules for team and individual matches throughout the intercollegiate season. The WSF has made improvements to squash, such as scoring methods, that makes the game more appealing to players and fans. Since the CSA utilizes the WSF rules, players from around the world may make an instant impact in collegiate squash.”
7. Costs of holding the Sport: With portable exhibition courts, squash could be setup at the Olympics with relative ease and at a low cost compared to other Olympic sports. Drexel University has hosted the U.S. Open Squash Championships the past few seasons. Drexel head men’s and women’s coach and former world number one John White explains that “in our main basketball hall the Professional Squash Association erected a four wall glass court. It took a day and a half to fully assemble, and the event from first round to the finals was six days and then the glass court was taken down overnight. From the start of assembly to the end of clean up was nine days.”
In addition to CSA coaches, student athletes throughout the CSA also support squash’s inclusion in the Olympic Games. In December, Reyna Pacheco, a first-year player at Columbia, travelled to Switzerland to help the World Squash Federation present its case for including squash in the Olympic Games. She joined WSF President N Ramachandran, WSF Chief Executive Andrew Shelly, and top-ranked PSA pro James Willstrop in making the case for squash’s inclusion in the Olympics. Princeton’s Rachel Leizman produced a YouTube video supporting the 2020 bid as well.
The College Squash Association encourages everyone to support squash’s Olympic Bid. Follow the 2020 bid progress at Squash2020.com, tweet your support (#Vote4Squash), and like the bid’s Facebook page.