Sunday, March 2, 2014


A stylish friend from North San Diego County alerted me recently to a new sport that seems to be taking the world by storm.  It is called pickleball.

After a bit of internet searching, I have concluded she is right.  (She always is.)

Briefly, pickleball is a racket sport played on a badminton court with a tennis-height net, a wiffle ball and short-throated firm paddles.  People of all ages enjoy it, some playing for hours each day.

In some spots, pickleball has been adopted first by seniors and then taken up by younger generations wanting to get in on the fun, a reversal of most trends.  Generally, players are ranked by skill level, not age.  As enthusiasm grows, there are reports of longer wait times for courts.

The sport was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.  (Manitoba appears to be a pickleball hot spot.)  The Freep dismisses as lore the notion that the game was named for the inventor's dog, Pickles, who was said to interrupt games by chasing after and running off with the ball.  The true story, the paper reports, is that the name is "a reference to pickle boats, slang for the slowest boat in a race," which early adopters thought described their speed moving around the court.

Pickleball is not an Olympic sport yet, but its day may be coming.  Various groups are trying to organize official associations, among them the following:

     -- USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) in Arizona
     -- Pickleball International in Washington state
     -- World Pickleball Federation, also in Washington state
     -- Canadian Pickleball Federation and, of course, Federation Quebecoise de Pickleball
     -- Spanish Pickleball Asssociation
     -- All India Pickleball Association

One note:  In searching for a picture to accompany this article, I came across various local and state pickleball emblems and photographs of people playing pickleball, including a couple shots of games at a nudist resort in Florida.  I like to think I am an open-minded person, but, for me, that was just going too far.

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