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Squash: it could be the greatest TV show on earth

You didn't see squash played in London and you won't in Rio two years from now, because, surprisingly, squash has never been part of the "greatest show on Earth".

Golf and rugby sevens have been added for 2016, and in September of last year the IOC voted to include wrestling ahead of squash and baseball-softball in the 2020 games in Tokyo.

But as advocates have been arguing for a while, there are plenty of reasons why squash looks like a perfect fit for the Olympics.

Fans of the sport will however be able to see it at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games squash tournament looks like it will also be able to overcome one the sport's biggest traditional weaknesses that have so far kept it in a fairly low profile - a somewhat lacklustre broadcasting reputation.

Here's why squash will make great television when the action begins this July.

Scottish Squash and Racketball's tongue-in-cheek slogan is "bashing a ball against a wall." On the face of it, that might not sound like the most entertaining broadcasting, but things have moved on from the early days of televised squash.

Originally games were broadcast with just a single, static camera, with the player's backs mostly turned towards the audience and the viewers. That certainly wasn't a great way for those watching the game to connect with those busy bashing a ball against a wall, whose faces would rarely be visible.

Now, though, broadcasting is catching up with more commonly televised sports to make everything much more engaging for the viewer.

Take the new courts at Scotstoun, for example, where the Commonwealth tournament will be held.

These courts have spaces set aside for cameras facing the players, allowing those watching at home to really get a sense of the endurance, athleticism and lightning-fast decision-making required to be a competitively successful squash player. It's certainly a view the live audience won't get to see (the forthcoming all-glass court aside).

Because squash players share the same small space during play, having cameras facing their front creates a much more intimate experience. Viewers will be able to see the concentration and exertion etched on the players' faces much more often and much more clearly.

Compare this with tennis, where in the main in-play shot the players are facing opposite each other- the one nearest the camera has their back turned, while the opponent facing the right way is much more distant due to the longer court. We may be able to hear the players straining and urging themselves on (here's to you, Maria Sharapova), but it's not really until the programme director cuts to other camera angles when play stops that we can clearly see just how tired the players are at the end of a long, nail-biting rally.

Being able to see the player's reactions up close and personal really plays to the strength of sports like squash, where at the end of a close game the slightest bit of luck or smallest mistake can make the difference between victory and defeat - and it can happen all in just a fraction of a second, at almost any time.

Seeing and sharing the players' experience is something I found I wanted more of when I reported on squash for my student paper in America. As someone needing to convey the story of the game to the readers, I wanted to see more clearly and more immediately how the players would react to key moments in the game.

Having that personalised view from cameras staring directly at the players while they battle it out on that court will make it so much easier for broadcast audiences to become emotionally invested in the spectacle they're watching - and after all, isn't being sucked into a dramatic game why we love sport in the first place?

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