September - October 2003
Vol. 14, No. 5 | Contents

Don't just sit on the sidelines ... write your legislators !

FROM THE EDITOR: The Bigger Picture
by Linda Mojer

The event’s opening ceremonies were already weeks past our deadline, but the Pan American Games were well worth waiting for ... not only for the four-years between them, but for the excitement and surprise that they held for the sport. You can see it on this issue’s cover, hear it from anyone who attended, and feel it from the daily website reports that supplement the print coverage. 

We learned that the Dominican Republic in August was gruelingly “tropical,” but the new venue was spectacular. We saw many household names among the athletes, but followed results that logged upset after upset, and produced standout career performances across the board. The U.S. was challenged in a way that often motivates them to bounce back even stronger than before; other countries closed a gap that — up to now — had seemed insurmountable. Top coaches took their skills on the road to share the wealth of their knowledge, and the international playing field leveled so much so that it’s now anyone’s game, at any time. 

Top-flight, hard-fought competition is precisely what “sport” is all about, and racquetball offered up its fair share at the largest and most prestigious multi-sport international event in its lineup. Sure ... it wasn’t the Olympics, but it was definitely the next best thing. 

But back at home, while those very Games were being played, the U.S. Olympic Committee Reform Act being deliberated by the House and Senate threatened to omit the “Pan Am only” sports (those that only have Pan Am status, but are not yet included in the Olympic Games) from the USOC’s mission. Simply put, the approval of bills that do not specifically include references to Pan Am only sports (seven, including racquetball) threatens to disenfranchise these sports, athletes and their national governing bodies. Since the USOC is the USRA’s largest sponsor, the impact of such a move could be devastating. At press time, the results of lobbying efforts to address the situation were not known, but we’ll continue to monitor the issue and update the websites as news is released.

So what is it about curling that makes it an Olympic Sport, but not bowling? Alpine skiing, but not water skiing? TaeKwonDo and Judo, but not Karate? Baseball, but not softball? Figure Skating and Ice Hockey, but not Roller Sports? And Tennis, Badminton and Table Tennis, but not Squash and Racquetball? Each of the “have not” sports that was fielded at the 2003 Pan American Games, and all of the athletes who competed in them were treated equally, without regard for the marginal distinctions that exist at the Olympic level. They trained as hard as anyone, and struggled for their countries, never stopping to entertain the notion that their sport was somehow less worthy than any other. 

Could we really be viewed as second rate? I don’t see it. But the fact remains that, right now, the state of racquetball can’t just be about our national pride ... it’s a great deal more far-reaching than that. 

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