Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"


no form, no talent

So as most of the modernized world knows by now, Pickleball is a thing. But not merely a thing. A thang.

Your mom is playing it. My mom is playing it. Your mom’s mom is playing it. My mom’s mom is … eh, dead. But were Marta Herz not dead, she’d likely be playing Pickleball. Hell, for all I know she’s on a cloud as we speak, batting the ball back and forth in a foursome with Tupac, Ed Koch and Amelia Earhart.

Or, put different: Find a warm location with elderly folks and free courts, you’re guaranteed to stumble upon heated, competitive Pickleball games.

I, however, have resisted the siren’s song of Pickleball. First, because I’ve been playing a ton of basketball with my son. Second, because time is precious. And, third, well … um … Pickleball is lame. I played it a couple of times with my mother in law in Florida, and it just didn’t do it for me. Too hot. Too slow. Too much like tennis—a sport I’m fond of, but not that fond of. Pickleball just seemed like something other people do. Older people do. Boring people do.

And then, something happened …

The wife learned of a weekly Pickleball group near our home. She went twice, really enjoyed it. “You should try,” she said.

“Meh,” I thought.

“You should try,” she said.


“Really, you’ll like it.”


We went this morning. My racket was the one my mother in law gave us five years ago; the one collecting dust in a corner. We arrived, and the people were unambiguously old. Not old like the wife and I (50), but old in the gray-hair-and-retired sorta way. Old as in creaky and wrinkly. Old as in Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty.


Then we started playing, and the old people were good. Really good. Not all of them, but a good number. Crisp shots down the line. Serves that curled and danced. Dinks and dunks and dunks and dinks. I felt the first bead of sweat about seven minutes into action, and when the 90 minutes passed I was drenched. Despite my minimal experience, I had some physical advantages that paid dividends. Namely, I’m tall (6-foot-2) with preposterously long arms. But … in this game, experience felt priceless. These folks knew what they were doing, and it showed.

Anyhow, when the time ended I was absolutely giddy.

Maybe, just maybe, Pickleball isn’t lame.

Maybe it’s the future.