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Presidential Politics on the Pickleball Court a Foot-in-Mouth Fault

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 07-11-2024

We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket have become alarmed at the recent introduction of national politics into pickleball. 

Pickleball players already have enough to argue about on the court without injecting this November’s presidential election into the mix. 

Spewing party lines at the kitchen line just provides too many easy opportunities for discord when we all should be talking about your illegal serve, the ethics of targeting weaker players, and the poor choice of music from the boombox on the next court.

Or to put it another way, we should be yelling at each other over pickleball stuff rather than trying to fact-check each other about late-term abortions during round robins.

For clarification purposes: Due to sloppy construction of the previous sentence, some readers may erroneously conclude that we here at Murmurs are implying that we know somebody who got a late-term abortion during a pickleball round robin. We don’t.

You see how thorny this can become? What I’m trying to say here is that pickleball should be a politics-free zone. Politics belongs on a list of other unmentionable topics, such as homeowner association emergency assessments, the beauty of tennis, and wild speculation about which of your pickleball friends are on Ozempic.

We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket have strong political views, but realize that the pickleball court is not the place to try to persuade other players to alter their votes when we can’t even convince those players to move up to the NVZ line rather than hanging back in no-man’s land like a dead duck for most of the rallies.

I mean, c’mon, Louise! Do you need an engraved invitation to move up? 

Not only will injecting politics on the pickleball court fail to sway other players’ preconceived worldviews. It will ruin the enjoyment of the game. 

The way I see it, playing pickleball exists to give us joy, while talking politics exists to give us agita.

So, I was really disappointed to learn that both the campaigns of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have been trying to make political inroads through pickleball. 

Biden’s wife, Jill, has recently been making trips to swing states to hold events designed to attract so-called “older voters” through … get this … pickleball and bingo. 

Pickleball and bingo. Imagine that. I guess this means they couldn’t find enough shuffleboard tangs and biscuits. (Yes, I had to look up what they call those shuffleboard sticks and puck-like thingies.) 

I know that pickleball often gets paired with strange things. For example, pickleball and fried chicken. How did that happen? Are there really a large subset of people who like to play pickleball before or after eating a chicken sandwich?

As for pairing pickleball with bingo, I think there would have to be some imaginary less-strenuous version of pickleball — something perhaps called “chair pickleball” — for it to be credibly paired with the resting-heart-rate pumping, chain-smoking game of bingo. 

Meanwhile, across the political aisle, the Trump campaign has resorted to appealing to voters by selling pickleball merchandise. 

The Trump Store sells a pair of pickleball paddles emblazoned with “Trump” on their faces and two balls for a price of $118. And like many things associated with Trump, it invites a fact check.

“Make your approach shot one that will really intimidate your opponent with the limited edition Trump Pickleball racquet set,” it says. 

Approach shot? In pickleball? As of now, there is no legal shot that falls short of the net that is still in play, can be hit a second time by you and your partner, and is referred to as “an approach shot.” 

Oh, and if so, you’d be hitting it with your paddle, not your racket.

But, I guess, this may change pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which could rescue the Trump ad by decreeing that approach shots hit by paddles (or rackets, as they would now be called) are legal in pickleball and immune from being subject to a rules infraction.

Do we want that? No, we don’t.

Also, just the idea of standing on a court facing somebody with a paddle that kept waving the word “Trump” at you is bound to be viewed as “unfavorable” to 43 to 46 percent of people, according to a future Quinnipiac University poll. 

The upcoming presidential election is bound to end up in the courts, but that doesn’t mean it has to end up in the pickleball courts.

This is one out-of-bounds call I think we all can agree on. 

MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS’ BRACKET

Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, including:

Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank’s newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!

I Dink, Therefore I Am | Frank Cerabino

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