Will pickleball take over the planet? We investigate this “fastest growing sport”; laughter, chatter ensues

0

Of all the goofy, self-deprecating shirts I’ve seen pickleball players wear in the three months I’ve played the so-called ‘fastest growing sport’, one sums it up best the atmosphere.

best pickleball player in the world

There never was a sport — and it’s okay if you’re not yet convinced that it deserves that label; I was there not long ago – where everything was so immediate …

OKAY

It’s more like that.

(1) You show up, someone puts a paddle in your hand (I still quite often mistakenly call it a racket) and invites you onto the court.

The ball of the moment, pickleball.

(Kevin Painchaud / Belvedere Santa Cruz)

(2) You start kicking a shiny greenish yellow ball with plastic holes (“A Wiffle Ball?!!you say out loud and in disbelief). You are mesmerized but energized by the relative ease of reaching the ball on this shrinky-dinked tennis court and returning it over the net.

(3) You look around, and no one has doubled over to yell at you – even though your first attempts to figure this out might have some slapstick elements. There is no time to judge. Everyone is too busy laughing and having fun.

Soon you too are laughing, sweating, and somehow completely immersed in the giddy goodness of pickleball mania. How did it happen?

Soon you too are laughing, sweating, and somehow completely immersed in the giddy goodness of pickleball mania. How did it happen?

It’s a feeling the nascent pickleball industry estimates nearly 5 million Americans are now exposed to, and local park services and private clubs are scrambling to keep up with the growing demand with tennis’ suddenly little brother. more hip and outgoing. That’s why the national media, from the Sports Illustrated to the New Yorker, sizing him up with fancy.

Go ahead and try to achieve the immediacy of good in any other game or sport – I challenge you. Even the original Ms. Pac-Man has you blitzed by Blinky and all his floating friend blobs called by Tier 2 initially.

Sports (yes, I’ll start arguing for our dear friend pickleball) are meant to be humbling and courage-building and, well, not fun at first.

The fun was left out in fifth grade when the joys of dodgeball, kickball, and the quirky base-stealing-inspired “pickle” no longer lived up to our inner athlete.

We were taught that serious sport, especially in the past decades of specialization overload, required private lessons, coaches, dietitians, fancy clothes and expensive equipment.

Then you needed patience to see all that magical voodoo through. If you were lucky and dedicated enough, it would end up producing the kind of results that would put you in the fine print of the local sports section, so you could cut it out and send it to Grandma.

The official pickleball look: A big smile.

The official pickleball look: A big smile.

(Kevin Painchaud / Belvedere Santa Cruz)

Pickleball is here to call BS on it all.

Pickleball just wants you to relax and feel good. Even better if you invite Grandma to the pickleball court with you.

Whether you are 85 or 12 years old.

Whether you have an ounce of athleticism in you or are a former scholarship athlete.

Even if you have more sore body parts than those that aren’t and you can barely move your body on the court.

I know this all sounds incredibly too good to be true. But I swear I’m not lying.

“It can blur the lines between sport and hobby, amateur and professional, celebrity and mortal.”

As a knowledgeable media critic the new yorker put recently, pickleball has an odd way of picking up the Etch A Sketch and shaking it for anyone who dares to wander into its arena: “It can blur the lines between sport and hobby, amateur and professional, celebrity and mortal. .”

Try to achieve this on the tennis court, which is understandable given the sudden popularity of pickleball.

“Don’t bring your tennis here” is the attitude of many pickleball players.

(Via Pixabay)

One of several recent national reports quoted a pickleball official citing commonly heard refrains in pickle country: “What kind of tennis attitude is that?” … “It’s tennis. Don’t bring your tennis here.

The New Yorker story cites one of many pickleball entrepreneurs who entered the scene. This one spoke of pickleball’s ability to cross “socio-economic lines” and cited the harmony induced by pickleball between Somali immigrants and their neighbors in Minnesota, where tensions were high.

“It causes Americans to meet other Americans in ways they normally wouldn’t.”

“It gets Americans to meet other Americans in ways they normally wouldn’t,” he said.

It’s a bit heady stuff wrapped in a bit of a silly wrapper – and that’s its charm.

Allow me to further explain the why and how of pickleball’s egalitarian brilliance, as well as the who, what and where of the local pickleball scene. This is a beginner’s guide, designed by a beginner for beginners, so keep that in mind.

Let’s start with five fundamental truths.

On the typical "club day" at Brommer Park, player age and ability run the gamut.

On a typical ‘club day’ at Brommer Park, player age and ability run the gamut.

(Kevin Painchaud / Belvedere Santa Cruz)

Share.

Comments are closed.