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Pickleball Is Booming. Not Everyone Is Happy About That

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According to its evangelists, pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport (it depends on how you measure). According to Architectural Digest, it’s the perfect amenity for new luxury real estate development (it might be). According to your grandmother, it’s blowing up at her retirement home (it definitely is). The last few years are probably the first time you’ve ever heard of the sport if you have at all, and you may be wondering what is going on. 

Fear not, an avalanche of recent pickleball press can answer all of your questions. This year, The New York Times declared the sport “ready for prime time.” NPR bemoaned the mere 10,000 places to play across the country. Town and Country called it the “preferred sport of the one percent.” The New Yorker asked, “Can pickleball save America?”

Most of the recent articles on pickleball follow a predictable rubric, beginning by explaining how the game works: Players use composite or wooden paddles to whack a plastic ball back and forth over a short net until it bounces twice or out of bounds—like a game of ping-pong where you can stand on the table. Then, as if it follows naturally from the game’s simplicity, they trace the game’s meteoric rise in popularity, from invention in the ‘60s by a quirked-up Republican congressman to its rapid ascent to the mainstream over the last few years.

The only thing moving faster than this venture capital-backed gold rush are pickleball’s haters, of which there are many. No one wants to be told to like something, after all. To detractors like us, it’s a senior citizen’s idea of something youthful and hip—the Pete Buttigieg of sports, if you will. 

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Illustration by Michael Houtz

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.gq.com/story/why-everyone-hates-pickleball?utm_source=pocket_discover

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