When I first received
Ferez first draft, I basically replied "WTF". As I'm blond, female
and French, his article was pure gibberish I must admit. After a few
back and forth mails, we eventually got to a point where I had a
vague idea the man's message was.
So, I asked him what he thought Squash Problems are, and what the solutions would be. It's the simplest I managed to get! Still, good luck everybody...
1. So Ferez, in your opinion, why is squash not that popular?
Ferez: We do not see squash on TV, and so it’s not appreciated as a sport, very simply because of the problems the game has being seen let alone being effectively televised!
Even for many active Squash Players, the images both on court and on TV, both the OBVIOUS images, as well as the equally important rally and game DEFINING images are hard to see!
Obvious images are of players, balls, racquets and moves e.g. drives and cross-courts, and rally ending trickle boasts. The equally important, rally and game defining, but non terminal (rally ending) - like Held Strokes (see Peter Nicol's video) are a BLUR on court and barely perceptible on the TV screen.
With the result that the image, that is remembered, especially in non-Playing minds, is that of Squash as a monotonous, repetitive, fitness intensive but Racquet skills depleted sport! All the way from the small moves, spins and close-ups to the panoramic most views are poor or non-existent on the court and the screen!
How to solve this?
To correct this we need to improve automated capturing, recall, analysis and commentating off/on all images on/from the Squash Court? Why? So non playing audiences can see the game and Squash Commentators like Joey Barrington can comment more effectively on it so the viewer’s get it!
This includes using tools to outline defining as well as standard easily viewed strokes and moves (pencilled in on the image on the screen). With replay images, of manually overridden automated images if that’s what it takes to illustrate a point.
2. Can you give us an practical example of Obvious/Defining Images?
Ferez: OK. Let's compare it with the high frequency beating of the wings of the hovering Humming Bird drawing nectar. It's invisible to the unassisted human eye, but captured by time lapse photography... It's about the same for visualizing the hard to see DEFINING images on the Squash Court.
One sees the bird but not the wings of the hovering Humming Bird which are beating too quickly (50 - 200 times per second) to be seen by the unassisted human eye! The technical or scientific solution is to speed up the filming of the bird by increasing the numbers of frames per second with time lapse photography. As the wings are beating slower than the numbers of frames of film one now captures the whole picture, including the bird, the wings, and the beak inserted into the flower!
Something similar to this analogy has to be applied to enable visualization of the whole picture on the squash court! By using modern biological, optical and computational methods this is readily doable in televising Squash.
The body of the Humming Bird is the equivalent of the OBVIOUS images while its wings are the equivalent of the DEFINING images on the Squash Court. The equivalent of time lapse photography are many new ways of capturing and analyzing the most fleeting of images at the highest levels of resolution.
3. How do you adapt it to squash then?
Ferez: Let’s compare the problem of capturing the whole image of the Humming Bird to capturing the whole image on the Squash Court.
The whole image on the Squash Court is much denser and more complicated. And so capturing it is technically more difficult. The whole image consists of a huge range, repertoire and diversity of strokes, moves, gets, spatial and court sense. It includes:
Some of this is even
lost to the pros on court, who consequently can be wrong footed. So
casual uninformed viewers of squash let alone TV audiences do not
have a chance to get the whole picture - contrarily to what they may
think and say!
4. So, we need a
specific camera equipment...?
If you want
to know more about Question 4
Are Scientists missing a
rich resource in the 'Closed Loops of Clutch Games' and do such
[Appendix to Ans 6].
For example the Squash Court is a Darwinian crucible for understanding and recreating the controlled Evolutionary acquisition of fundamental Cognitive, Motor Skills, Spatial and Sensory perceptions, etc...under even less than a fraction of a second (0.14 second), at the interface of the Subconscious and the Conscious and up to the limits of Neurophysiological and Neuromuscular extremes!
Neuroscientists are addressing these questions with tools that can be far less effective and representative experimentally than Squash. For example the fairly static facial responses elicited by a collage of pictures representing various emotions coupled with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRIs). Contrast this with the highly dynamic reading of the making (postures, racquet angles, footwork, spacing, etc...) of a Stroke by a Stroke maker all over the court, and even with the receiver BEHIND him/her when coupled with fMRI on a court.
What is the flip side of this experimental power? In Neuropathological conditions such as, Strokes and Neurodegenerative diseases e.g. Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases these very Cognitive and Motor Skills, Sensory and Spatial Perceptions degenerate and are destroyed. Understanding their development on the Squash Court could yield therapies.
Additionally there are many Nurture/Nature questions that deeply interest Neuroscientists! These are the thoughts in the Resting Brain (seeing things that you are unaware of, images corresponding to soundscapes, stimulation of the will to persevere) and the Active Brain (the courage that comes from anxiety, the Subconscious ability of one person's Brain to read another's Brain and Facial expressions) which can all be compromised in Neurodegeneration! All of these questions could be could be analyzed from the completely unique perspective of the Squash Court. Because Squash often would help promote their studies better than any experimental system they are currently using they would modify their analytical methods for the Squash Court. In limited ways this is already being done e.g. the doctoral student and his advisor in France who are studying the Physical Properties and Dynamics of a Squash Ball catching the nick (see Ferez'nSquashDocs website - Page 5 of Professor Dhanjoo Ghista, Ph.D.).
If you want to know more about questions 5 & 6
Finally the unconscious mind, memory, defines nurture/nature dimensions of being human (nebulous, amorphous and contradictory traits such as persistence, ruthlessness, focus, precision versus adaptability, flexibility, improvisation, character, warmth) are of interest to neuroscientists and are all a basic part of Squash!
For all these points in the Appendix to FSN’s Ans 6 see the Appendix to FSN’s Ans 3 - Selected reference numbers 2 to 16 as well as:
Are Scientists missing a rich resource in the 'Closed Loops of Clutch Games' and do such things exist?