It was in the summer of 2016 that I was introduced to the wonderful world of pickleball, a real fun life longsport with a great Community spirit. Like many others, I was hooked instantly after my first session of play, a few months later I participated in my first international pickleball tournament and what an experience it was, everyone was friendly, chatty and lots of hugging was involved which resulted in instant new long lasting friendships and then..... there was a very loud noise coming from the entrance door.........a big group of singing Spanish players showed up, this intensified the positive atmosphere in the hall even more and was very memorable.
The overall first tournament experience was mainly positive, said this it was as well my first experience of politics in pickleball. I was experiencing the divide between people and groups and this was dislodging the unity of a pickleball community in its infinity phase trying to grow the sport. Fast forward the sport has now grown rapidly world wide and it is absolutely amazing and exciting to see the development of this fun sport with a sour name.
I am lucky to be well travelled and have played pickleball in Europe and Asia at several tournaments or just for fun, this comes with a passion for introducing pickleball to new communities, after all I am a pickleball enthusiast. Pickleball can only grow if it's supported by lots of enthusiasts, fanatics and even pickleball addicts all working together with a common goal, this doesn't mean one person is more important, better, powerful or famous than another person, in the end it is just pickleball no fuss needed.
Politics in pickleball creates negative elements which hampers the development progress of pickleball, especially with the aim to be part of the Olympics in the near future, those negative elements are: hate, division, separation, jealousy, alienation, misunderstanding, verbal abuse and a very negative stigma on pickleball as a whole, which could put off National sports boards, potential sponsors and even the Olympic committee to be involved with pickleball and that is not all, it could turn off a lot of players to continue playing pickleball.
This is maybe the time to look at ourselves and ask the question what is the most positive impact I personally have on the development of pickleball, write them down, now comes the difficult question to ask yourself....what are the harmful impacts I have on the development of pickleball, write those down and now the task is to look at what opportunity you have to leave the politics behind and focus on creating unity, cooperation, collaboration and to be able to compromise to achieve the common goal to develop a solid foundation for pickleball in the Olympics.
In my honest opinion and you might agree or disagree, but the state of pickleball around the globe is a wobbly one, multiple world governing bodies (conflicts & division), countries with several competing national governing bodies (conflicts & division & power struggle), people looking just for power positions in pickleball organizations (intimidation & undemocratic) and people looking for personal fame which they see as more important than the growth development of pickleball (ego's) which creates those unnecessary negative elements. All this is very harmful for the sport we love so much, after all its just pickleball.
The reality is pickleball has snowballed in the last 10 years and even more so in the last 5 years, more paddle and equipment manufacturers, 2 Pro league associations, more courts and players world wide, podcasts, books, training organisations and YouTube channels, sponsors, pickleball related nutritional products, tournament software, tournaments live streams on social media, events on CBS sport and ESPN and so on. What the sports needs is unity it really does, with this fantastic growth development seen in the last 5 years pickleball can go 2 ways.... up or dow, lets all work together on the way up, without all these unnecessary negative elements.
The world is watching and pickleball could be a MAINTREAM sport globally, this could be achieved if we have the willingness to listen, discuss, collaborate with other peoples opinions and vision, we value each others expertise, be prepared to compromise to reach the common goal in unity.
This sensitive subject is my first attempt in writing a blog but it's my belief it's important to address the elephant in the room, there is already too much hate and negativity in the world and we don't need any of it in the world of pickleball.
So the big question is: "are politics within pickleball harmful to its future?" Lets be an example in the sports world that shows pickleball brings people together regardless of their age, nationality, race, sexual orientation, religion or what level they play.
Thanks for reading,