Squash Trash Talk

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 23 2010 9:57 PM

Squash Trash Talk

It has come to my attention, as Slate 's official squash correspondent , that a video of one squash player attempting to eat the head of another squash player is making the rounds on the Internet. This is another bad mainstream moment for squash. Squash fans are still depressed that our sport was denied a berth in the London Olympics. More beach volleyball, anyone? Ooh, can't wait for the rhythmic gymnastics to begin!

 

Advertisement

Anyway, on Sunday, Baset Chaudhry—who is 6-foot-5, hails from Pakistan, and is co-captain of the legendary squash powerhouse, the Trinity Bantams —defeated the top player from Yale, the freshman Kenneth Chan, from Singapore. The victory gave the bantams their 12th-straight national title—they haven't lost a team match since 1998. The sportsmanship fail happened at the end of the match, when Chaudhry does a victory yell over Chan, creating an awkward Goliath-confronting-David moment. Next, Chaudhry leaves the court, gives his dad a hug, and then pushes Chan back into the court when the Yale player tries to exit.

 

The jocks at ESPN's SportsCenter were soon having fun with this episode of squash "trash talking." In the video, the analyst Merril Hoge breaks down the "questionable sportsmanship" with the help of his telestrator while his colleagues chuckle along. Hoge's contempt for squash starts with an attempt to explain the rules: "You got a couple lines here. A line up top." Then he zooms in on the "verbal spraying" and concluded by connecting the whole incident to the importance of "buttocks"-blocking in the NFL.

Sure, there's some residue of truth to what a commenter on Deadspin had to say: "Squash: the sport rich kids play when they suck at lacrosse." But as Slate 's Seth Stevenson pointed out almost a decade ago , collegiate squash has become an international game, with the Baset Chaudhrys replacing the Baxter Thatcher Hatchers at the top of the ladders. At both the pro and the top collegiate level, squash players are elite athletes—aerobic freaks with amazing hand-eye, foot speed, racquet discipline, and guile. Watch this rally, nonbelievers:

Back to the matter at hand, Chaudhry displayed improper squash dominance. The best way to win is with nonchalance. You stalk the court in such a manner to imply that the calls, your opponent's shots, and the crowd simply don't matter, such is your obvious dominance over your opponent. If you do deign to yell, you yell at the refs. (There is a lawyer-esque element to competitive squash matches, as each call can be appealed.)

We are also left to wonder what it was that set off Chaudhry. Trinity's coach said that Chan had been "getting in [Chaudhry's] pants for the entire match" (i.e., crowding him) and that the outburst was an outpouring of that frustration. There is also loose talk of an earlier Chan-initiated staring-down moment. We may never learn the truth of this alleged "trash talk," but it's more fun to conjure our own imaginary squash insults.

Some suggestions:

  1. I've seen better drop shots in John Irving novels.
  2. I've seen better rails in West Coast cities known for their sprawl and lack of public transit options.
  3. Where'd you learn to serve, Hotchkiss?

Let's hear your best squash trash talk in the comments.

Michael Agger is an editor at The New Yorker. Follow him on Twitter.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Dec. 19 2014 4:15 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? Staff writer Lily Hay Newman shares what stories intrigued her at the magazine this week.