Public Arguments Over Pickleball Are Much More Widespread Than You’d Expect

The sport's adaptability has frustrated fans of other outdoor activities

Pickleball balls and court
Who knew pickleball could be so contentious?
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Pickleball: it’s increasingly popular, adaptable to unexpected spaces and relatively compact in such a way that multiple pickleball courts can fit inside one tennis court. If you’re a pickleball player, that’s great news — and if you’re an overall fan of people having more opportunities to engage in sports and stay active, that’s also good to hear.

But not everyone is a fan of pickleball, it seems; recent news reports have covered disagreements over public spaces being used for the sport in question, sometimes to the exclusion of other activities. What hasn’t been as clear up until now is the extent to which these conflicts have been an issue across the country. Now, thanks to a lengthy investigation by 404 Media’s Jason Koebler, we have an answer — and, yes, it’s a much larger issue than you might have thought.

Koebler requested documents from a host of local governments all over the country about conflicts over recreational facilities. In some cases, the issues had to do with the noise pickleball makes. Mostly, though, the issues at hand related to pickleball enthusiasts and their counterparts for other sports (including hockey, tennis and basketball) facing off over spaces that could be used for multiple sports — but which were overwhelmingly used for pickleball.

As Koebler points out, not every city has had these issues; he writes that Santa Monica has been able to keep most people happy, whatever their sport of choice. (Except for the arsonist who set a pickleball court on fire earlier this year, that is.)

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There are other issues at play here as well, as the 404 Media article points out — including the fact that many municipalities don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to address the sudden influx in their spaces that the rise of pickleball has wrought. Had the timing worked out a little differently, one can only imagine the plot of the inevitable pickleball-themed episode of Parks & Recreation. Perhaps it’s time for a very special return to the airwaves for a certain fondly remembered series.

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