By Jay D. Prince
Depending on how expeditiously our wonderful postal service has managed to get this issue of Squash Magazine into your hands (sorry Will Carlin, I know you won’t have received it yet as it seems the carrier in Brooklyn Heights must be a squash player who wants to read your copy first), my ramblings for this month may be moot.
Unless you’ve been out of contact with the squash world recently, you already know that the International Olympic Committee is expected to trim the list of seven sports hoping to get into the 2016 Olympic Games down to two during meetings Aug. 13-14 in Berlin.
I for one am still hoping squash finally finds its place in the Games. Yes, I fully support the effort for all of the financial potential it brings to the sport. But more than that, there is nothing like the Olympics, and to me the sport of squash will be “complete” once it is recognized as being worthy of Olympic participation.
Now I enjoy golf, both playing and watching. But I’m sorry, no one will ever convince me that being a part of the Olympics will do anything to enhance that game. The players at the top of the profession aim at the Majors and really could care less about the Olympics. Okay, maybe a few of them would care.
Rugby, like soccer, has the World Cup.
Baseball has the World Series.
Roller Sports? What’s that?
Karate? Honestly? I’m surprised they aren’t in on the coattails of Judo or Taekwondo. Oh, wait a minute, Judo and Taekwondo are “sports” as defined by the Olympics; they are not “Martial Arts” like they probably ought to be. Forgive me for sounding cynical, but to me this is the biggest problem facing the IOC—the definition of “sport” in the eyes of the IOC. Some have generic names (Aquatics and Cycling) while others are very specific (Tennis and Handball). While I believe the all-encompassing names for the sports are appropriate, it’s beyond me why the Olympics uses both to identify sports. I mean, come on. Swimming and Diving really only have water in common (hence, Aquatics), but apart from that, they are really quite different sports. So why not call them Swimming and Diving?
When we tackled the subject of the Olympics a few years ago, we raised this as a problem then. And it is precisely why I am of the opinion that when the IOC voted in 2007 to approve or eliminate sports existing at that time, that “vote” was a waste of time. To eliminate solo synchronized swimming, the IOC would have had to eliminate Aquatics—because that activity is a “discipline” of Aquatics. And to add a new sport, like Squash, we would have had to be adopted as a unique sport rather than being a discipline of Racquet Sports—which doesn’t exist despite the fact that three racquet sports are part of the Olympics (Badminton, Table Tennis and Tennis).
Without speaking with an Olympic historian, I suspect names like Aquatics (and Athletics—which encompasses running, long jump, etc) have an historic source of origin. After all, the Olympics do date back to the late 1,800s.
While I understand the reality that the Olympics and the way in which the “sports” are identified is unlikely to change, I do believe it would go a long way toward assisting the process of gaining acceptance into the Games. Of course, if squash finally gets adopted, I probably won’t care about this idiosyncrasy anymore.
Here’s hoping we have something to celebrate in August and again in October when final decisions are made about which two sports will be added to the 2016 Olympic Games.