Who knew! One of my new favorite sports, pickleball, is making news, and it seems some have a vendetta against it. If you are not aware, pickleball is a hybrid between ping pong, badminton, and tennis. The court is larger than a ping pong table but smaller than a tennis court, and you use wood, plastic, or fiberglass paddles with what is basically a wiffle ball. Our family has been hooked for a couple of years, bought the equipment, and we love to get out on nice Indiana evenings and play a few games. The sport, which until recently had been a niche, began to gain momentum around 2020 with an estimated four million players. It has exploded with new estimates suggesting that over 23 million people are playing pickleball, a 150% increase in three years. If you’re a player, this explains why it’s become so difficult to find a court! But some of the news of late is not good, there are those who are right down irate about pickleball.
First, I was reading a report on noise pollution and how it is increasing in major cities and suburbs. Reading the list of noise complaints, I wasn’t surprised by the obvious factors, noises such as loud neighbors, barking dogs, and car alarms. It also listed the volume of traffic and accidents, but then came this, the number of outdoor pickleball courts and players. I was shocked! Pickleball, a noise pollution issue? It is a problem, and some people are seriously annoyed. The internet is filled with articles with people fuming and groups with disdain for pickleball. Communities are writing ordinances, neighborhood HOA’s are setting policies, and there are loads of websites suggesting how to curb the noise created by pickle ballers. They want noiseless pickleballs, carbon fiber or padded paddles, sound panels around the courts, and restricted pickleball hours. These people are serious, and they are radically charged about stopping pickleball noise.
The second issue, and one that is a bit disturbing if you are a pickleball player, has to do with the healthcare industry. It seems that pickleball injuries are creating an extraordinary amount of financial drain on insurance companies. One company, United Health, recently reported a higher-than-expected frequency of hip replacements, knee surgeries, and other procedures and believes many injuries are due to pickleball. One company is projecting that pickleball injuries are going to cost healthcare companies between 250 and 500 million dollars in 2023 alone. I am afraid they won’t let this continue. Can you see it coming? Name, address, email, do you smoke, do you drink, and do you play pickleball? Oh, you play pickleball, there will be a 25% fee added to your policy.
I say enjoy the sport. Exercise is good, good for the body and good for the mind. Being with friends and family, having fun and laughing, is as good as the exercise. If you don’t play, pick up some paddles, a couple of pickleballs, and get to a court. Do so wisely and considerately. Warm up, stretch before you play and if you play in an area where there is housing, be thoughtful. Finally, be watchful of trash talkers, most often they’re all bluff with no stuff, and watch out for ambidextrous players, they change the way you play the game.