You may have noticed the growing popularity of pickleball in recent years. Now tennis courts are mobbed with people playing pickleball, where a few years ago, tennis was the only sport played on tennis courts, which is what they were designed for as their name would indicate.
It’s a form of tennis that has had as much athleticism stripped from it as possible, no running, no range of motion, no hard serves, and don’t worry about sweating, you won’t. You barely have to move. You might lunge a bit, but your feet are pretty much planted in a tiny court. You literally move more playing ping pong in your basement, or harnessed to vr goggles, than doubles pickleball. If you’re young, and don’t have serious injuries, you have no excuse for playing pickleball.
I don’t have anything against pickleball per se. Particularly for people with limited mobility, (it seems particularly popular among the recently retired, knee brace set). People are outdoors having fun and getting exercise, all good things.
But to me pickleball is symptomatic of a general trend. Another example is e-bikes. A few years ago, you didn’t see any. Now everybody is buzzing around on these, and don’t worry if you prefer to not do any work and move around on a scooter, there’s electric scooters, electric skateboards, electric everything. Or camping. According to MEC, less and less people are going backcountry camping, and more are choosing car camping. People have stripped the sweat out of things that were meant to be sweaty fun and left only the fun. But is that really fun?
And what’s wrong with sweat? With mechanization, as a culture we mostly cut the sweat out of our working lives. Needing to sweat to stay healthy and sane, we started sports and gyms. And now we’ve cut the sweat out of our sports and gyms. ‘I’m going for a workout on my pedal assist electric bike. Then some pickleball to cool down. Then I’ll take an e-scooter home while I talk loudly on the phone and push my belly out in front of me.’ It’s pathetic.
And then we wonder aloud about high rates of childhood obesity, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the like. We’ve stripped the sweat from sport and the nutrition from food. We’ve pickleballed our entire lives.
Think about this: if youi’re playing pickleball now, in the flower of your youth, what will you do when your joints are worn out? Water pickleball? Where do you go when you start with the softest sport and need to go softer. It’s a question people will need to play out soon.
Look at our economy. Our governments borrow hundreds of billions every year, with no plan to pay it back. We’ve stripped the sweat from the economy and kept the fun. I wonder if there will be any consequences? The societal equivalent of type 2 diabetes is already rampant in the Western world and it’s getting worse every day.
For me, I will not play pickleball. Not until I’m arthritic or surgerized from enjoying my youth running hard, and playing real sports. I will not get an e-bike or ride one of those soft scooters. Yes you can say I’m one of those ‘back in my day’ men. Because I am, and I’m too old to change.