By Jay D. Prince
So how many of you have taken a few moments to reply to Jeannie Blasberg’s request for your thoughts on what your friends (and you) would want from a membership in US Squash (in addition to the current benefits)? I know some of you have. Here are mine:
First, I would operate under the assumption that not everyone cares to be nationally ranked. Further, not everyone cares to play in tournaments or leagues. In fact, I’d say the majority of squash players in the United States (and around the world for that matter) simply play because they love the game. They love the exercise benefits, the challenge and the competition at lunch or after work. If we assume this to be true, what could US Squash offer to all of those people who are out there running themselves into the ground chasing the little black ball around the court?
In my mind, the key element to focus on is the simple fact that while these players rarely (if ever) enter tournaments, they are still extremely competitive. You can see it everyday in their “friendly” matches. Often times it’s the same players taking each other on day after day. There’s one group of four at my club in Seattle who go at it every day at noon. They make it into a round-robin format, but they are all trying to win. It’s the nature of the squash beast. Not only are we challenged by working with the ball, but we are infinitely challenged by working with, around and against our opponents.
So come up with services that feed off that competitiveness and prey on those players who are already out there loving this game. There are tens of thousands of them. RailStation already exists for running tournaments and leagues, and it’s getting better and better at spitting out updated ratings and rankings. How about making it possible to enter your daily results into the same system? And what if there was a computer dialed into the system at the courts? I’ve rambled on about this before, but the fact is, people love to see their results even if they don’t play tournaments. Personally I think it would be really cool to walk up to my good friend Chris Burrows and hand him a nice little print-out showing him how many times I’ve beaten him over the previous month(s).
Taking that a step further, if RailStation could work with these results, then US Squash could send a monthly email to everyone entered in the system with their match record for the month along with their updated rating. The more people see their ratings, the more they will understand what they mean. Perhaps members could be rewarded with certificates offering discounted equipment every time they’ve entered a specified number of results into the system. Maybe the same system could be the foundation of box leagues and ladders across the country. And maybe the same system could be used to find matches when you’re traveling—and then book courts for you once you’ve “found” someone to play.
Maybe local players would like more local information that could be disseminated by US Squash via email newsletters or daily (weekly?) updates. I know there are a lot of you who would like to see more local coverage in this Magazine. While we’ve tried several times to get that going, it’s proven to be difficult.
And what about the teaching pros across the country. What would you like to see from US Squash? How about a representative organization of the teaching pros under the auspices of US Squash? Would there be a way to offer special member packages of lessons to those individuals who join US Squash? Like a “three-for-the-price-of-two” lesson deal for US Squash Members only? Maybe there would be a subset of teaching pros who could be available online to answer “Questions for the Pros” that members can ask through the US Squash website. Or maybe a weekly “Tip from the Pros” in a password protected area of the US Squash website.
I’m sure there are many, many more things you and other potential members would like to see as benefits from US Squash. So take the time to give US Squash ammunition to work with as they convene in August to map out where the Association is going or needs to go over the next few years. You’ve already plunked down your annual membership fees: Now put those fees to work and help enhance the value received.