By Ralph E. Moore Jr.,
Special to the AFRO

In case you missed it, the fastest growing sport in the U.S. today is called pickleball, but it has actually been around for decades. According to pickleballportal.com, pickleball was created back in 1965–some 57 years ago– on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle in the northwestern state of Washington, by three fathers of bored children in need of entertainment. The sport is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, and it can be played indoors or outdoors. 

So, why don’t black folks play pickleball? 

Here are the rules, taken from the Official Pickleball Rule Book: 

      ● The ball must bounce on both sides of the court before you start volleying (the two-bounce rule)

      ● The points in pickleball are given as 11, 15, or 21 and the game is won by two points

      ● You can’t volley in the non-volley zone

      ● You can’t serve the ball above the waist

      ● The ball cannot go out of bounds. 

So, it must not be prohibitive rules that keep Blacks from playing. And according to PickleballLobby, the skills needed to play are tough but not too demanding. a “good pickler” has to: Be able to regularly convert a hard shot to a soft shot’ *Must exhibit patience; 

  • Develop hand quickness along with judicious use of power, superior placement of shots, sharp anticipation and sustained volleying skills; 
  • And, most of all, make very few unforced errors

The courts are smaller than tennis courts, about the same dimensions of the playing area used in badminton. The net is about three inches lower than the regulation tennis net. In fact, the rules for pickleball are pretty much the same as they are for tennis, badminton and ping pong. For example, if the ball goes out of bounds or bounces twice on the court, your opponent wins a point. You can play singles or doubles in pickleball too. 

So, why don’t African Americans play pickleball? 

Is it the cost of the equipment? I don’t think so. The equipment isn’t actually expensive; A racket can run $29-$49. Black parents have been known to pay $39-$300 for a Little League or high school baseball bat. The rackets are slightly bigger and more durable than a ping pong paddle, and the ball that is used is slightly bigger and harder than a wiffle ball. You can easily find pickleball equipment at most sporting goods stores these days, since the game has become the rage.

The best part about pickleball, though, is how easy it is for anyone to pick it up, no matter what age. 

So, why don’t Blacks, Browns and other people of color play pickleball? 

Because the courts aren’t huge like tennis courts, the amount of running is very minimal to hit the ball. That’s why it’s easy for young kids and people in their 50s and 60s to get the hang of playing pickleball. 

So, why don’t many Black folks and other persons of color play pickleball? 

The funny, nondescript name of the sport aside, maybe it’s just too easy. Hmmmm.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO. Send letters to The Afro-American • 145 W. Ostend Street Ste 600, Office #536, Baltimore, MD 21230 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to editor@afro.com

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