We all need to be entertained from time to time. And unless you’re one of those people who only watches Netflix or Hulu or Peacock or whichever other one of the 15 big streaming services there are nowadays, you pass the time by playing games. However, some games are so bad that after playing them, you wish you had instead spent that time watching grass grow. There are a variety of reasons why a game can be bad. Some games can seem never-ending, like Uno, Monopoly, and the occasional CS:GO match that my friends force me to participate in (Seriously? 30 rounds? Who needs that many?). Others are filled to the brim with microtransactions. I’d give you an example, but you could just as easily look at your phone’s home screen. Many games that you find in casinos or arcades take no skill and are just designed to drain your wallet. Some games are just so bad that they’ve become memes, like Sonic ’06 and Hotel Mario. But there’s one game that I consider to be worse than any other that mankind has created. It has absolutely no redeeming qualities and doesn’t get nearly as much hate as it deserves. That game is none other than pickleball.
“What the fuck is pickleball?” I already hear some of you asking. And that’s a good thing. If you don’t know what it is, you might want to turn the page, because it won’t be easy to bear the knowledge that not only does this game exist, but it’s taken seriously. For the brave souls who do want to know more about it (or the freaks who actually like it and need to be convinced otherwise), keep reading. As I cover each new aspect of this sad excuse for a game, you’ll hopefully begin to agree more and more that whoever came up with Pickleball was either sadistic or high as a kite.
For those of you who don’t know, pickleball is basically tennis if you made it worse in every conceivable way. This might be a bold claim, but I’ll start by talking about the mechanics. In tennis, your racket is built with a wire mesh on the inside, allowing the ball to easily bounce off it. Badminton and ping-pong, the other net and racket sports, have similarly convenient designs. However, the creator of pickleball gave you a massive middle finger and just left you with a paddle made of solid wood. Seriously, this thing would be better used in the 1950s for spanking your kids when they say swear words. It has no business being used in any kind of sport or game whatsoever.
Anyway, since the paddle is harder than I get when I see people holding hands, you’d expect the ball to at least have some bounce to it, right? Nope! They downgraded the ball too! Unlike the shuttlecock and balls in badminton, tennis, and ping pong, which are all designed to have some “boinging”-ness to them, they decided to choose a hard, plastic wiffleball for some reason. Not only do you have this ungodly combination of materials, but the ball is too big and the paddle is too small. How are you supposed to easily get the ball over the net with this kind of equipment? The answer is that you’re not. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort and divine intervention just to hit the ball in such a way that it goes over the net and lands in the opposing team’s court, outside their “kitchen”. What is “the kitchen,” you may ask? Let me tell you.
“The kitchen” is a section of the court directly next to the net on both sides. First of all, why do they call it the kitchen anyway? Was the creator of pickleball really so high that he had the munchies and had to use culinary terms to name every part of the sport? What’s next? Is the net called a “waffle”? Are the paddles “pots and pans”? Are the players called “chefs”? When does this madness end? And the special thing about the kitchen is that sometimes you’re allowed to stand in it and sometimes you’re not. Make up your mind!
From the very small amount of time I’ve spent trying to understand the rules, they’re somewhat similar to badminton where the serving team’s players switch sides each time they score and change who serves when they don’t. Note how I’m comparing against badminton here because I don’t really know the rules of tennis either. But despite my dislike for tennis, I still find it miles better than the abomination that is pickleball. Anyway, though I don’t know all the rules of pickleball, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something stupid like “if your score is a perfect square, you must serve from outside the court.”
99% of volleys will end within 5 seconds when you receive the ball and are unable to hit it with your micropaddle. Or if you do somehow hit it, your whack sends the ball in the wrong direction. Either way, the speaker inside the ball plays a sound effect saying “You can’t catch me!” and the motors inside it begin accelerating it to top speed. At this point, you’re screwed. The ball proceeds to roll through all of the other courts in the field, somehow finds a hole in the fence and rolls through that, goes down the street, makes a left turn at the light, goes to the airport, and hops on the flight to Alaska. Since balls don’t grow on trees, you have no choice but to chase it around like the animal you’ve been reduced to. Once you finally get your hands on it and return to your court, 10 pounds lighter, the only thing your impatient teammates and opponents can say is “What took you so long?”
One thing I don’t like about watching football is that towards the end of the games, the teams will make a 10-second play and then spend several minutes coming up with a plan for the next one. However, you can at least say they’re using that time to strategize. The same can’t be said for pickleball. For each second of gameplay, there is at least an hour of doing nothing but the mindless activity of chasing the ball around. At that point, you’re just playing fetch.
Skill Floor and Skill Ceiling
A good game should be easy to learn and hard to master. Pickleball is neither of those things. Of course, anyone of any skill level can technically play the game, but unless you spend hundreds of hours mastering the paddle, you’re not going to remotely enjoy it. In contrast, in a sport like bowling, even if you’re bad at it, you can still get some satisfaction out of it when you knock down a pin or two. And it doesn’t actively punish you for being bad at it by making you chase the ball around. Badminton is another example of a sport with a low skill floor. The shuttlecock falls very slowly so you can easily get some good hits on it no matter how skilled you are, and the piece stops in its tracks when it hits the ground.
Pickleball may not be easy to pick up, but does it still have competitive potential? The answer is no. Due to its clunky mechanics and overly punishing gameplay, it will never have nearly as much potential as its sensical counterparts. In real sports, you can work your way up to getting a hole-in-one, pulling off cool spikes, or hitting home runs. But pickleball has no such room for improvement beyond just being consistent at hitting the ball. Besides, when was the last time you saw professional pickleball broadcasted on TV, went to a stadium to see a pickleball game, or heard of someone getting a college scholarship for being skilled at pickleball?
Counterarguments and Rebuttals
Even after all the FACTS and LOGIC I’ve used to prove why pickleball sucks ass, I know I’m still going to have a few radical pickleball fans disagreeing with me. In this section, I’ll be outlining some of the most common excuses that these victims of brainwashing use to defend it, and why they’re complete garbage.
One argument these sheep will use to defend pickleball is that they say it’s a good sport for old people to play because it’s not very physically intensive. This ignores the fact that you still need to run around the court in order to reach the ball, and you need to bend over to pick it up after you’ve chased it down. Boomers aren’t good at either of those things. Bowling is a much better fit for them because it doesn’t require running around or bending over. You might argue that the weight of the ball is a problem for them, but some bowling balls can be pretty light. I’m sure that even Joe Biden can lift up something that weighs 8 pounds. It also costs money to bowl, but that’s not an issue for the generation that’s taking way too long to retire.
Pickleball fanatics will also claim that the extra down-time of pickleball allows for people to socialize. However, a pickleball game is a poor setup to do so. Not only are you so far away from your opponents that you have to scream at them to communicate (something old people are very good at, I’ll admit), but the player who’s running around to get the ball is always excluded. I’m sure that when my P.E. teachers forced us to play it, my teammates and opponents said the nastiest things about me behind my back while I was too busy running a half marathon to retrieve the wiffleball. If you want to exercise and socialize at the same time, just go on a walk or hike together. You’ll enjoy the beautiful view of nature much more than staring at the fences surrounding the tennis courts that you’ve hijacked to play your unholy game of fetch.
Hopefully, by now, you’re convinced of the truth that pickleball is a complete load of barnacles that does not deserve to be played under any circumstances whatsoever. If you still think it’s a good game, then you should probably drop out because even SoM is clearly too challenging for you. For those of you who are no longer living a lie, be sure to spread the word. If you have any brainwashed friends who still “enjoy” playing it, be sure to refuse to join them and relentlessly argue with them about it every chance you get. You may end up no longer being friends with them, but a friend who engages in that type of sin is a friend not worth having.