Pickleballers must be stopped—for the good of the courts and the nation.
Like chess, pickleball is relatively easy to learn but hard to master. I have won gold medals at national and regional Pickleball tournaments, but am still a student of the game. I was also a competitive tennis player for decades, including on my college's team, and still play the game. Like tennis, perhaps true of most of sports, Pickleball can be played and enjoyed at many different skill levels. My late father played an intense slice only form of tennis in which he moved his feet as little as possible, and amused himself with this for forty years, several times a week. Advanced Pickleball is a strenuous, highly aerobic game. The reason tennis courts are being converted to Pickleball courts is simply supply and demand. There are just more people who want to play Pickleball today than tennis. The biggest problem with PB is the noise the balls make; it's a high pitch, high frequency ping that neighbors find irritating. There are new sound-deadening paddles now available, which help quite a lot to lower the pitch, but the best long term solution is to build new PIckleball courts in areas that are far enough away from homes.
I have played every racquet sport known to man. Tennis, paddle, padel, ping pong, even court tennis and racquets (the last two being particularly obscure). I played squash in college. Quite to my own surprise, I find pickle more compelling than all of them. It requires more presence of mind and constant strategic thinking. It keeps moving (one serve, and you're never chasing balls three courts away). It lends itself to mixed games as men can't overpower women. Also, you can play with a wide range of people and still have fun. The others require that you play with people who are within a range between slightly better to slightly worse than you. Not so with pickle. Lastly, it's incredibly social, with group mixing and matching after every game. So yes, I thought pickle looked stupid at first like everyone else. It's not.
I resisted it for a while but finally started playing. It’s great cardio. Long live Pickle ball!!!
Is this satire? Could you even be any more elitist, dripping with disdain for the “hoi polloi”?? The only redeeming feature is you quoted David Foster Wallace, who I love and miss.
I shared this article with a group of friends from FL (the pickleball capital of the world is Naples🙄) and got roasted by one with no sense of humour. Our club in FL had 2 pb courts in 2020, 4 in 2021 and by 2024 will have 8, along with a dedicated pavilion equipped with a permanent bar ( the roll-in one isn’t good enough), bathroom ( they can’t walk 100 yards to the golf clubhouse) and lots of shade under which to rest between gruelling matches. Go for it, I say. It’s much easier to book a tennis court and it has certainly, at least amongst tennis players, separated the wheat from the chaff. 😊
“Sports are, after all, one of the few remaining realms in which we generally accept the legitimacy of hierarchy and order. Anyone can play, of course, but some people are simply better than others, and this fact is out in public for everyone to see. You cannot cry or bully your way into victory. You cannot call HR or summon a Twitter mob to wangle your way out of defeat. “
Is this a joke? How have you missed trans women, in all of their wingspan and muscle mass pushing their way into women’s sports exactly by calling HR and “identifying” as women. 🤦🏻♀️
Now you know how women feel having biological men invade their sports space.
It's maddening. Every public court in our neighborhood has been converted to pickleball. I get that we live in a retirement community, but there were/are a dedicated group of tennis players who regularly met three times each week (sometimes more) for rounds of doubles. Pickleball players began to show up several years ago and were graciously offered a court (one out of four) to serve their needs. That seemed satisfactory until, under the cover of court renovation, there suddenly were no more tennis courts and only those foreshortened mini courts which, as time has now shown, are underused by the supposed surge of pickleball pall enthusiasts. For our tennis crowd, the remaining option is to join the local country club to use the private courts. So much for equal access and taxation without representation! In the coming rebellion, I'll take tennis racquets over pickleball bug swatters any day.
The article and comments miss one of the main reasons pickleball is so popular: the social benefits (to individuals and the community) of the voluntary mixing of a group of strangers. Where I play outside Washington, DC, dozens of people of different races, religions, ages, gender, and income get together every day on four pickleball courts. Anyone can drop in at any time; all are welcomed. All games are doubles - 4 players – and everyone plays with a different group every game. When waiting to play, people have the opportunity to hang out next to the courts and socialize.
I love that the first two comments below are from pickleball lovers. I have been playing tennis for over 50 years, but the body is starting, well continuing, to wear down, but I can see how pickleball, I’ve played once, can be fun, but let’s be real, for the vast majority of players it is their last best alternative. I don’t see any real athletes out there playing at my JCC, but hey it provides some exercise and people do seem to have fun and I haven’t heard any line call disputes (for most the game is too slow for that). I say long live pickleball, I’ll probably be one of those slow moving players looking to capture a little more “athletic” glory before all is said and done.
Avid tennis player here. Not an elitist: I grew up blue collar and took up the sport in my mid-thirties as a reward for quitting smoking. Almost 20 years later I'm still playing and regularly participate in USTA leagues.
Here in Chicago, "good" public courts are hard to come by because there just isn't enough money to upkeep them all properly. My local park has a nice surface that is literally overrun with picklleball all weekend and most week nights. I haven't a chance at getting on that court. I'm left with the dusty pockmarked courts that are trip hazards.
I recently had to practically beg to get permits for my summer league after getting rejected at other parks, due to pickleball activity. The outdoor summer team I've played on for 20 years almost had to cease this summer for lack of playable courts. It was truly sad for me.
People see crappy tennis courts empty and think "well, I guess no one plays tennis anymore" but what is happening is that we all flock to the few good courts and compete for play time. Now we've added pickleball to that competition.
I think we need a treaty of sorts to present to our park administrators that allows for a more equitable way to share the courts AND we need the parks to increase budgets so we have better upkeep of our sports surfaces. I think this is where both communities could come together to make an appeal for better maintenance and funding.
A friend, who is an ER doctor, says that “pickleballers” are “regulars” in the ER dept. So much for an easy game. Or maybe it’s the six gin tonics!
Down with people who unreasonably interfere with others enjoyment of life. The position of the officious pickle ball intermeddler as to what might happen to imperfect tennis shots was full of holes. The game itself is okay.
I live about 45 miles from Bainbridge Island, where pickleball was invented nearly 60 years ago. Its creators were a group of friends gathered for a lawn party, who happened to be Washington’s Attorney General (later a U.S. Senator), its Secy. of State, and a U.S. Representative (the host). All were Republicans - a political breed now nearly extinct in Western Washington.
They had some ping pong paddles and a paved surface, rigged up a net, and started batting around a whiffle (or is it wiffle?) ball. The lore, somewhat disputed, is that the family dog was named Pickle.
For decades this was, as the writer said, an obscure, regional, backyard sport that grew slowly by word of mouth. Often the courts had been designed for basketball or badminton and were repurposed. My friends hosted a New Years Eve pickleball party roughly 25 years ago. They were the only people I knew who had a court, and public courts were still given over to tennis.
A couple things: Recreational Pickleball, especially doubles, is popular because it’s much easier to play than tennis. Men and women can occupy a small space, move a few feet, and whack a plastic ball for exercise. Not as demanding as tennis, but exercise nonetheless. Plus, the socialization component is much greater in a smaller space. It’s a satisfying couples activity.
That said, I suppose it was inevitable that as pickleball grew in popularity and spread geographically, people of a certain frame of mind wanted to form organizations, make rules, and organize tournaments. Now you have to reserve courts. Tennis has been supplanted, pushed into the background, to this writer’s lament.
It’s a good thing for people to be getting more exercise. But I miss the older, less structured manifestations of pickleball. It’s lost some of its charm.
I was a hard-core handball player in the late 1970s. It was a true American game, tough, gritty, an egalitarian pastime that any person with a hand--even those without big $$ incomes--could play.
We had a plethora of great public handball courts until Billie Jean King and Bjorn Borg (with that name, we should have seen the impending catastrophe) became celebrities (vs real athletes like Dick Butkus and Chuck Norris) and tennis became a "thing" for rich people and cities tore down handball courts to make space for the rich, effete tennis players.
Now we have a diminishing population of tennis players--undoubtedly backed by the orthopedic surgery lobby who make millions reconstructing knees and elbows--whining that the courts they made possible only by tearing down (literally and metaphorically) the urban handball courts (and dreams) of the lower socio-economic classes--are being replaced by pickle ball courts.
That's not a tragedy. That's Justice!
To the tennis players, I say 'wine on'! (ha!)
I'm torn. Pickleball guy sounds like a massive Karen. On the other hand, Karens are right sometimes but usually have a terrible presentation. My name is Fifi and I'm a closet Karen. Hi Fifi.