Thursday, 11 October 2007

Who's holding the ladder?

A squash ladder divisionI was dismayed when the organiser of my local squash league emailed all participants to announce that he was giving up the responsibility.

Having administered the divisions on a monthly basis for a number of years, he had asked the central London leisure centre where the league matches are held if they could provide him with some small remuneration.

This was not the first time he had made such an approach to the management ...

Previous attempts to get some recognition for keeping the courts regularly booked had also been ignored. Similarly, his latest attempt did not even merit a reply.

After explaining this reason for giving up the administering of the ladder, it was easy to understand why he had taken the decision. Why bother?

Luckily, various members proposed online solutions that users can administer themselves, and a couple of guys stepped in to manage the software and ensure the rest of us can still play regularly.

But the lack of central support from leisure centres for leagues such as mine could have a potentially serious knock-on effect.

If the centre has to justify the existence of squash courts to a council looking to sell off land for prime residential developments - or maybe to build a new fitness suite where users pay large subscriptions - then a facility that is not regularly used by an organised league is unlikely to be regularly used at all.

This is especially true in London (which has already lost the Lambs club) where developers are itching to build expensive apartment blocks.

The lack of support from the leisure centre only serves to make a council's decision easier when it comes to weighing up the benefits of widening sporting provision against the hard cash offered by a developer.

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