I was logged in to my Twitter account @controlthet yesterday when I received the following tweet from @usprosquash: "PST Responds to PSA Attack http://fb.me/zI4I53eC." I followed the link, read the initial statement from the PSA (Professional Squash Association) regarding their new participation policy and the response from the PST (Pro Squash Tour). I opened my email and received an email from SquashZag blogging on the subject and read his response as well. I then stepped back and thought about why the PSA would do this, are there parallels in other sports and whether they were justified or not.
Why would the PSA do this? They stated:
"Following consultations with stakeholders, primarily in the US, it was felt that the Pro Squash Tour was having an increasingly detrimental effect on the PSA World Tour's presence in North America, leading to confusion for potential promoters and sponsors."
Is this reason valid? Is the PST causing confusion for potential promoters and sponsors? To start to answer this we have to look at why an organization would promote or sponsor a squash event. For the most part it is because they see value in their brand associating with a squash event. They are investing money to get exposure in the hopes of that exposure generating revenue. If exposure and revenue are indeed the motivating factor then is promoter or sponsor confusion really an issue for the PSA? If the PSA offers a potential promoter or sponsor of a squash event excellent exposure for their investment why would they not invest? They would not invest because they see a better investment elsewhere or because they have already spent the funds they allotted for promotion or sponsorship. If the PSA is losing promoters or sponsors to the PST they should look at improving their presentation and offering a better investing opportunity.
Are there parallels in other sports? I thought about this and tried to come up with one. Teams sports as a whole are not comparable as the players are paid a salary and their employer certainly has a right to protect their investment in the player they are paying. That leaves individual sports, a comparable example would be golf. Like squash the players earn their income from prize money and endorsements. So does the PGA restrict its players from playing on other tours? I do not profess to be an expert on the PGA Tour participation rules but to my knowledge they don't. Why do the majority of the world's best players want to play on the PGA Tour? They do so because they want to compete against the best and because the PGA Tour is the most lucrative to play on. That being said do PGA players play in European Tour events or other tour events like the Asian Tour? They do when they have a reason whether that be personal or financial. Does the PGA like it when Tiger Woods plays in Dubai instead of playing a PGA event. Probably not but he does traditionally play that event which is a European Tour event.
Is the PSA justified in wanting to protect their brand? Yes of course they are. Ultimately it is a business that has to be profitable to survive. I believe that the PSA rather than take this position should see the PST as a challenge and rise to it. Focus on your brand, grow it, and in particular grow it in North America. The best players in the world are playing on the PSA World Tour, focus your efforts on showcasing them and your organization.