Squash Abolishes Amateur status

The story of the move into 'open' squash.

Prior to the landmark decision taken by WSF (then called ISRF) that the sport of squash would go open from 1 Sept 1980, the sport was split between Amateurs, essentially those that did not earn money directly from the sport, and those who did.

The motion that was carried at the ISRF meeting in Brisbane, Australia in October 1979 was worded:

‘That ISRF adopt the principle of Open Squash while recognising the right of members to retain a distinction between Amateur and Professional players within their own constitution. In such cases it is recommended that Rule 26 of the IOC Charter be used as a guideline. The Officers in liaison with ISPA [the name for PSA then] and others be authorised to implement the necessary changes to enable the above principle of Open Squash to take effect from 1st September 1980’.

The decision was not easily reached as debate had swirled on the topic for some years previously. Indeed, motions that amateur status should be abolished had already failed at four prior ISRF AGMs.

At the preceding ISRF meeting Sweden had been asked consider the possible adoption of open squash, and to make recommendations at the next meeting. Their report strongly favoured abolishing Amateur Status.

Those who proposed the abolition cited the fact that the Amateur Status rules were being flouted with players receiving excessive travel payments, appearance money, greater supplies of rackets and clothing so that they could sell them …….. generally what was then called shamateurism.

It was argued by those in favour of removing the Amateur Status that because there was so much shamateurism and that it could not be policed it should be eliminated in favour of an open game where people could accept prize money or goods if offered.

On the other hand in USA, and also in England (which had proposed the abolition), there was a view in some quarters that the loss of the traditional amateur approach to the game for the benefit of only a few players was not a positive move. The additional costs of events, the loss of specifically amateur events and predomination of commercialisation were mentioned.

Some countries at the time expressed the view that funding from their national Olympic Committee may be lost, but others felt that the two status’s could be managed side by side.

There were concerns expressed about who would schedule and sanction events too, but these were assuaged by earlier discussions with ISPA and a council put in place to liaise.

In the end, the motion was carried unanimously, and so the World Team Championships which followed the decision were open, and the World Amateur Championship ceased to be run.