Seven Things You Need to Know about Pickleball


#1: No pickles were harmed in the creation of this newsletter.

The editor of parade magazine (circulation 33 million) popped up in my email a couple of months ago, asking The Question of our Age: “Do play pickleball?”

Unlike everybody else in the world, I answered, “uh…no.”

But, as a journalist, ignorance is my competitive advantage: There’s so much I know very little about! And, my editor went for it!

The resulting article hits newspapers on Sunday July 24.

Or you can read it here.

As I incorporate the Next Big, Orange, Bouncing Thing into my life, I made a few observations that didn’t quite fit into my article, including…

#2: Like the pickleball itself, the sport’s creation story is full of holes. The game’s creators’, on Bainbridge Island off of Seattle, couldn’t agree on how the game acquired that ridiculous — I mean ridiculously popular! — name. It was either christened for 1.) a ball-chasing dog named Pickles, or 2.) the second-string — or pickle — boat in a race, made up of an odd assortment of rowers, just like pickleball is made from an odd mix of ping-pong, tennis, paddleball, and alien farm implements. It’s no wonder the dog story took over, though it’s probably not true.

#3: Pickleball is the fountain of youth. One recurring theme among interviewees for my story was “it saved my life!” Another ubiquitous tale: Meeting some court-side coot who can barely walk, then being whipped by him and his even more decrepit doubles partner in a pickleball game.

#4: The pickleball court has a kitchen, but you can’t eat there. It’s a cruel game. All savory references, no delivery.

#5: Even the New Yorker is covering pickleball. Fearing the immense reach and definitive nature of my Parade story, the New Yorker rushed one into print this week as well. You can read it here, if you have a spare half-day or so. Or, in the same amount of time, you could buy paddles at Walmart, drive to a court, and master the game yourself.

#6: CAUTION: Pickleball is has side effects. The game is universally described as “addictive,” which means larger and larger doses of pickling will be required to achieve the same initial zing. Let the pickler beware.

#7: My favorite part of pickleball? It’s all in the ears.

What the hell is R2E?

When I was Editor of Men’s Health magazine, and before that, articles editor for Playboy, I was pretty good at my jobs. But I was great at taking vacations — Moscow and Minneapolis, Bermuda and the Badlands, Kathmandu and Kauai, Key West and the Congo, plus all those national parks you’ve been meaning to visit (Acadia, Great Sand Dunes, Everglades, Point Reyes National Seashore, and on, and on). I live to travel because every trip changes and enriches my life, starting with an epic run through Paris-London-the South Downs-Belfast-Sligo-Oslo-Zagreb (!)-Venice-Rome just after I graduated from college. The Road2Elsewhere tracks my own gleanings and mistakes from a lifetime of purposeful wandering through places, ideas, books and stuff that makes me laugh; harvests insights from the best memoirists and travel writers; and includes paintings and drawings and cartoons I made along the way. Not all who wander are lost…they’re on the Road2Elsewhere.



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