A new Goldman State Podcast drops every Friday!

Jul 8, 2024

Pickleball’s March to World Domination Continues

As with all trends, resistance is feudal

By Ed Goldman

Not long ago the Sacramento Business Journal reported that a 12,300-square-foot pickleball center was being planned in Gold River, a community of upscale lookalike homes about 15 minutes from Campus Commons, my community of mid-scale lookalike condos. Both communities were built by the late Robert Powell, who had no lookalikes I’m aware of.

The first few times I visited longtime friends in their Gold River home I literally had to phone them from their driveway to ask if they could look out their front window to verify I was even in their driveway. One of them gave me this handy tip for future reference: “Ours is the home with the tree.”

Edgy Cartoon

What a racquet! 

Exteriors of homes in Gold River were painted from the same color palette, which could be generously described as 50 shades of beige. The dominant color of the outside walls in Campus Commons, an older development, is a kind of chinos tan— though we’re allowed to paint our front doors in one of two pastel-red shades as long as we keep our window shutters in a limited ecru range. 

But my real topic today is the continuing push toward world domination by pickleball. I firmly believe the game’s promoters own shares of ambulance companies, splint-and-suture stores and for-profit emergency rooms. (All ERs are for-profit, by the way, no matter what the IRS lets them allege on their hospitals’ letterhead. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask someone who was recently invoiced for an ambulance ride if the bill looked like a donation request or a delinquency notice for eight months of missed mortgage payments.)

I mention my suspicions about pickleball proprietorship because of facts I’ve presented here before, and now offer an update of courtesy the National Institutes of Health:

“Acute traumatic injuries in Pickleball can result from falls, secondary to a sudden turning or pivoting movement. Sprains of the ankle joint, particularly with inversion, are very common in tennis and the mechanism for this injury would be similar for pickleball.

“Depending on the severity of the sprain, this injury could result in significantly impaired movement or inability to bear weight. If weight bearing is painful, initial treatment may initially include crutches (if needed), or immobilization with an ankle brace. Further treatment consisting of relative rest, icing, compression, and elevation (RICE) are generally useful in the treatment of sprains of the ankle and other joints.”

Meanwhile, word from NBC News isn’t much more encouraging: “As pickleball’s popularity has skyrocketed, so have the number of serious injuries among players. Bone fractures related to pickleball have increased 200 percent over the last 20 years, according to an analysis of a large government injury database presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons… .”

“The overall rate of injuries is likely much higher,” NBC continues. “The new analysis only looked at fractures, not the most common soft-tissue injuries like sprained ankles or debilitating knee injuries such as damage to the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament. Other common pickleball injuries include rotator cuff injuries, worsening of arthritis, Achilles tendon tears/strains and foot fractures. The vast majority of the fractures found in the new study, 92%, occurred during falls.”

I challenge the last few words of that finding. I think these injuries also occurred during summers, winters and springs.

I attempted to play pickleball exactly once, in a lake resort whose altitude was a bit over 5,000 feet and no doubt, still is. I’d like to believe it was the thinner air that could be blamed for my even thinner ability to win a point or two—even when the other player walked away for a moment, perhaps to see if there were any emergency personnel in the vicinity. Within the span of 20 minutes I had expanded the parameters of what it means to be a complete oaf. 

Well, I refuse to be a statistic. I won’t sprain my ankle, rotate my cuffs, tendon my Achilles or worsen my arthritis. In short, I won’t play pickleball. At any altitude.

Did you know Amazon has AMAZING Daily Deals?

From electronics to beauty to fashion to pet supplies and everything in between, Amazon has daily deals you don't want to miss.

See the Deals

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).