Reverse Changes to the Squash Program

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Dear SCLA and Squash on Fire Management,

We, the undersigned members of SCLA, are outraged at the recently announced changes to the squash program. They represent breach of trust between SCLA and its members. If not reversed or severely amended, these changes will cause an exodus of longtime members, make it impossible to attract new members, and act as a disincentive for continuing members to play squash—all of which will strike a fatal blow to the vibrancy of the squash program.

Moreover, SCLA did not properly communicate these changes to its members. Members were only informed the day after the changes took effect and only received notification in an email sent at 4:15pm on a Friday afternoon. Ken Corbett did hold a small meeting late that same day, but the meeting was not announced to all squash members and there was no SOF representative. We are incensed that management claims to care for its members, but only asks for comment after a wholesale restructuring of the squash program has taken place.

We believe that the proposed changes will cause the following negative actions:

1. It will be impossible to attract new squash players because they will be forced into an Executive Membership.

2. These new rules will raise costs for any member who plays more than once a week. For the members who play 4+ times per week, these changes will cause their monthly costs to increases by $50. This will bring monthly membership costs into the $230-250 range, nearly three times that of other squash clubs.

3. Players will not be able to simply shift their games out of the expanded “prime time”. The new restrictions make it impossible for members who work regularly to play regularly.

4. Rather than encourage a dynamic squash culture, these changes will kill it. The new system disincentivizes frequent playing. The core squash members, those who truly make the squash program vibrant, will become far more judicious and selective with their bookings, leading to far fewer players being around the club on a daily basis.

5. Squash members already pay a unique premium fee to play yet barely use the other facilities. By virtue of the court booking system, we are penalized differently than swimmers or basketball players, even those facilities also have a large footprint. These changes will cause many to reevaluate their membership.

6. The new system will be an administrative nightmare for all involved. Due to the scarcity of “free” credits, players will judge the merits of each potential game before committing, generating tension and animosity rather than camaraderie. Players will be forced to track their own credits and the credits of others. Players will turn down game invitations because they do not want to “waste” a credit on an unknown or worse games. A black market of credits will develop as players book courts under the names of friends they know will not use their credits. Players will be angry if someone arrives late on the court, or if someone wants to take longer breaks between games—potentially an injury concern—as they will want to maximize their restricted playing times. Ultimately, SOF and SCLA will have to track and adjudicate all these potential problems.

The current reality leaves much to be desired. As a recent screenshot of the computer booking calendar demonstrates, SOF and other squash pros repeatedly abuse the promises given to members. SOF often does not use the courts they’ve reserved or employs multiple courts. At one time two weeks ago, all four courts were unavailable for member play at a given time. By the third day of the new system, SOF had already violated the regulations it itself had imposed 2 days before. How can we trust this?

The following changes to the new system should be considered:

a. Increase the credits to 16-20/month

b. Drastically lower the monthly SCLA membership fee to even it out

c. Exempt core squash members from the new system restrictions

d. Eliminate the entire credit/primetime system, but incidentally raise monthly rates 

We have already been approached by several competing squash clubs with membership rates that our far more economical than SCLA. We have alternatives. While there may be 320 SCLA squash members, the squash program lives and dies with its core members. These changes will make SCLA an unpleasant club to play squash, as the new policies actively discourage regular play, camaraderie, and new players.

As longtime members of the SCLA community, we hope that SCLA and SOF will take the appropriate actions to reverse these changes and restore the trust its membership once had in its leadership.

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