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The IOC
Fever

…Squash in the air … World Referees …

Global Gallery, July
1, 2005

Martin Bronstein, writes this month from Herentals,
Belgium near Antwerp.

© 2005 All rights
reserved.
all photos© 2005, Debra Tessier


Olympic Fever

I write this in England where the British bid for the 2012 Olympics has
gone past fever pitch to flag-waving hysteria. The newspapers are spewing
out nationalistic bilge and positive spin in the hope that the Olympic
committee will somehow vote for the UK instead of France who have been
favourites from day one. New York is not given the faintest chance. The
Prime Minister has left the G8 talks to got to Singapore and boost the
bid. Yes, my sons, the world has gone quite mad.

For
my part I want Paris to win. Or New York. Or Moscow. Anywhere but London,
which, if the UK does get the nod, will be mired in billions of dollars
in debt come 2013. A few Olympics, usually those run in the USA, don’t
lose money; the rest lose mountains of the stuff. My sister living in
Montreal is still paying for the 1976 Olympics even though the then mayor,
Jean Drapeau, assured the citizens that: ‘The Olympics can no more
lose money than a man can have a baby.” And Athens, who held the
last Olympics is still trying to tot up the deficit.

The
boosters here go into raptures about how London will benefit from the
infrastructure left over from the Games. Why not just spend the billions
of pounds on erecting low-cost housing and improving London’s dreadful
transportation system? Because it is all about glory, nationalism and
other empty, meaningless emotions.

SQUASH
IN THE OLYMPICS (Yaaawwnnn)
The
reason why Olympics is on my mind is that a week after the IOC give their
decision on the unlucky city, they will be announcing (on July 12) which
sports have been dropped and which one of the five debutantes will be
included. Despite all sorts of “positive’ indications and
lovely things said about our sport, I have no hopes at all. I don’t
think the IOC have got the guts to drop a sport. And if none get dropped,
nothing gets added.

Christian
Leighton, the new chief of the World Squash Federation, sent me the 32
evaluation criteria that the IOC put together, with the idea that if a
sport met them all, they would get in.

Well,
it is not exactly like that. For example number 19 is “Sale of television
rights” Number 23 is ‘Impact on the Environment”. How
does squash compare to Equestrian events on that one?

Number
18 looks at the sports’s sponsor and marketing programmes. Why should
that effect a sports eligibility? Sport is sport, marketing is marketing.
Having read all the way through it I must say those criteria on the whole
favour those sports that are already in the Olympics.

SQUASH
AT 33000 FT

The one area where squash scores heavily over other sports (not in the
IOC evaluation) is the wonderfully varied venues that have been used to
present major tournaments. Now Dave Carr has come up with a real doozer.
Dave is the US man for McWil CourtWall (get the name spelled right or
he gets real sniffy).

He
reports that an article in an aviation magazine points out that the new
Airbus A380 could hold ten squash courts if all the seats and fittings
were removed.

Well
now, we only need one glass wall court and four hundred seats and we could
have our first ever airborne squash tournament.

Carr
says “This could start to make the Business Class fare worthwhile,
eh?” Well the way I see it, is the first round is played en route
from London to Dubai, the second round on the way to Kuala Lumpur, the
next round on the way to Australia, the semis en route to Los Angeles
and the final as the A380 makes its way to New York. Tickets around $3,500
to include flights and hotels. You watch the TV networks fight for the
right to cover that!

JAMES
BOND TO THE RESCUE

If
you watched Wimbledon you will know that Britain has a new hero, Andy
Murray, to replace Tim Henman. What’s more he is a Scot (like Peter
Nicol) so even the folk north of the border are getting excited about
the nancy sport. Why, even the embodiment of Scottishness, Sean Connery,
came south to sit in the posh seats and cheer on his countryman. He was
interviewed and made some pertinent remarks about the people who run Scottish
sport. (Murray lives and trains in Barcelona). Peter Nicol, you may remember,
exchanged his kilt for a bowler because Scottish Squash did not give him
the medical and financial backup that England Squash gives its players
. Furthermore, Scottish Squashwhile refusing aid to Nicol was handing
over £25,000 to John White, the Aussie who has never even lived
in Scotland.

Interviewed
on the BBC Radio Five Connery said of Murray: “"It was an absolutely
extraordinary match and I have to say that Andrew Murray is as gifted
as anybody who’s ever played the game. But what was evident was that he
is not fit enough to stand up to the ritual.”

Connery
then thundered: "The way that they help people, certainly from Scotland,
is zilch in the UK. We lost Peter Nicol, who now plays for England at
squash and is now a world champion and he’s Scottish. Why? Because he
wasn’t funded. Now Andrew isn’t funded so much and he’s in Barcelona.

"If
you’ve won the world championship as Nicol has done, what else do you
need to know? He could not find the facilities in Scotland so he had to
become English.

"I
hope the tennis people get off their arses and do something about it and
not hold it against him that he comes from Scotland." Well said Sean.
But I bet even your famous words will not effect the administrators one
little bit.

OH
ALRIGHT THEN, I’LL SPILL THE BEANS

World
Referee Jack Massarella
photo© 2005, Martin Bronstein

Last
month I told you that Simon Parke is walking out with a very pretty woman
whose father was a squash referee. Everybody want to know which one. Well,
I’ll tell you only because Jack Massarella has just been promoted
to world class referee. So congratulations are in order. I met him at
the Abingdon BSPA Head Grand Prix finals and he told me that he only started
reffing ten years ago. He went to the British Open as a greenhorn, expecting
to do the age groups and fringe matches, caught the assessors’ eye
and finished up doing a quarter final in the main draw.

I
should also like to congratulate Mike Riley, the Lancashire lad who is
well ensconced in the US squash scene and a regular match referee for
John Nimick’s events in Boston, Toronto and New York.

Just
for your edification below are the ten World Class referees.

Jack
Allen, Ireland (07)
Ian
Allanach, Scotland (06)
Roy
Gingell, Wales (07)
Fahim
Gul Khan, Pakistan (07)
John
Massarella, England (08)
Tony
Parker, England (06)
Michael
Riley, USA (08)
Chris
Sinclair, Australia (06)
Graham
Waters, Canada (06)
Nasser
Zahran, Egypt (07)