Letter to the Editor | Pickleball brings community together in new ways

In regards to the pickleball trial at the Linda Beach courts, I have previously weighed in on the physical and mental benefits of this sport for its players, with an emphasis on seniors.  Of late, I have observed a new phenomenon with unforeseen benefits to the larger community.

I have noticed that an increasing number of teenagers are coming to play pickleball at these courts. In addition, there has been an influx of Piedmont families that come to play together with their teen and preteen children. It’s not uncommon to see two different families arrive to compete against each other, with an adult and a child on each team. I assume that the arrival of these new groups has something to do with the fact that play is offered daily in the same location and lasts all day, thus allowing those with time constraints and other obligations to just show up for open play, knowing that a court will be available.  Since it remains “open play”, these same preteens almost invariably end up playing with the older adults on hand. Thus, a nine year old may end up playing with a welcoming group of adults in their 60s and 70s!

This intergenerational play is a remarkable and heartwarming development, which is unique to pickleball.  In our mobile society, many children have limited exposure to their grandparents and many don’t realize that “senior” and “active” can describe one and the same person.  I know of no other sport where preteen children are engaging competitively with senior citizens.  These kids learn that not all “old” folks are feeble, while seeing examples of friendly, but fierce, competitive play and good sportsmanship demonstrated by these adults.  As a bonus, the kids end up getting mentored if they want to improve their game. This is a win-win situation and truly an example of the proverb “it takes a village”.

Since the tennis courts at Linda Beach are significantly smaller than regulation size, most tennis players prefer to play elsewhere.  The conversion to pickleball courts would be the best use of this previously underutilized space for the city of Piedmont.  Parks full of people, of all ages, being active and social is the best use of Piedmont’s limited recreational space and helps achieve the goals we set when we, as a society, allocate resources for public park spaces.

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