Rebutting ESPN’s Debunking of Forbes’ Analyses of Squash As The Healthiest Sport.
by Ferez S. Nallaseth, PhD

February 16, 2015 - Athletes at the top levels of any sport would be good at other sports
especially if they are not more complicated in sensory-motor functions
than their own (i.e. Runners vs Racket Athletes). The relevant question,
though is whether their sport of Choice tests their full Athletic Potential.

As far as the primacy of tennis goes, I would respectfully suggest to Pete Sampras that he follow the 2 links listed below. He will find that in head to head competitions the North American Squash Champion Sharif Khan proved himself to be the better Racket Athlete i.e. by becoming the Champion in 3 of 4 years of the CBS Tournament World Rackets/Racketmaster's Tournament moderated by Tony Trabert or Pat Summerall, (which were held in the 1970s and 1980s). The other competitors were : (1) John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas - Tennis top 4), (2) Marty Hogan, (Racquetball, World Champion, others), (3) Fleming Delfs (Badminton, World Champion, others), (4) Danny Seemiller (Table Tennis, US National Champion).

A minimal analyses of complexity, even when ignoring the 3 dimensional stroke production and the lethal combination of walls in the corners in squash results. The squash ball spins off over 13 surfaces (walls, edges, nicks, corners, court and racket) - in tennis the ball spins off over 2 surfaces (racket and court)!

I also have reservations with (Top Ten) ESPN's analyses of the most rigorous Sports that Challenge Forbes Conclusions on Squash - which themselves have inbuilt weaknesses, but they have the advantage of a reasonable Scientific basis rather than a popularity contest of the most easily detected moves. It is not necessarily more representative nor more thorough an analysis if more sports and parameters are packed in or arbitrarily vetted - only making interpretation of data more complicated.
Many of ESPNs comparisons are of apples and oranges or oversimplified. For example lets compare racketwork in e.g. badminton or tennis with getting punched in boxing. How do you control for the incredibly well coordinated racket control of Racket Athletes under conditions of exhaustion with that of throwing a left hook under possibly similar conditions? The conditioning required to take a 'hit'/punched with that required for the relentless, immediate and continuous footwork/racketwork once the Shuttlecock/tennis ball are in play with the punch/counterpunch and the defensive backpeddling into the corners - with all the rest time that  it buys?

Finally the 17 World Record Holder in Distance Running, the Great Australian Runner Ron Clarke, who was almost certainly fitter than any of the Athletes you have chosen, was only a Club Level (Average) Squash Player. Could there be dimensions that have escaped ESPN?

Yes Forbes could expand its analyses but the primacy and healthiness (ratios of workout benefits/injury) of Squash have been independently established and known for decades by e.g NASA (who used it at one time to train its Astronauts) as well as by Soccer Federations who used it as a Control in the Analyses of Soccer.

So Forbes cannot be far off the mark!


(1) Squash Racquets Develops the Most Complete Racquet Athelete

(2) Promoting Squash – the key to the Olympic door