Thursday, March 4, 2021

In a Pickle in a Pandemic

Lathrop GPM Attorneys Taking in a Pickleball Match

I’m sure that regular readers of my entreVIEW posts (all 3 of you) saw the headline for this post and guessed it would probably be about the status of the original musical I have written (Pickle-Chiffon Pie), which I have posted about before (although a LONG time ago). Like so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted that project, which has been delayed from its originally scheduled world premiere at the Orlando Repertory Theatre last May until large groups of people feel comfortable safely gathering together in darkened theatres…fingers crossed, maybe as soon as late this year?

However, that’s not what this post is actually about. It is actually about Pickleball! If you don’t know what Pickleball is, you can check out this short video to learn a little about it. The sport, a sort of cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis, was invented by some entrepreneurial dads in the State of Washington in 1965 to entertain their kids who were bored with the usual summer activities. It has now become the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., with over 3.3 million players and an Average Annual Growth Rate of about 10%. 

I started playing Pickleball in October (along with an old high school friend) because it seemed like something fun and socially distant to do outdoors. In these COVID times, any excuse to interact with humans outside my household bubble in a way that feels safe is greatly appreciated. Apparently, I’m not the only one to pick up the sport during the pandemic. In fact, The New York Times called it the “Perfect Pandemic Pastime.”

Having now played at least weekly for the last four months, I have to say that I agree. It is fun, social (but socially distant), easy to pick up, multi-generational and the equipment is relatively inexpensive. Sure, you can spend $200 on a paddle (don’t call them racquets), but you can also get a starter kit consisting of a pair of inexpensive paddles and some balls for under $50. 

Not surprisingly, people have been finding all sorts of creative ways to play Pickleball during the pandemic. For me, it has involved shoveling snow off of some nearby courts with a group of local retirees who play daily and then inviting friends, family members, work colleagues and even entrepreneurial clients, most of whom I haven’t otherwise been able to safely see in person since the pandemic started, to play a match. It hasn’t been easy to play outdoors all winter in the “Bold North,” but we’re a hearty bunch. 

Neither is it surprising that, given the explosive growth, dozens of entrepreneurs have launched successful Pickleball-based businesses. A small sample include Kansas City-based JustPaddles and Chicken N Pickle, Amazon third-party seller Amify ($33 million in sales in 2018 on a business started in 2011 to sell Pickleball equipment) and Jigsaw Health, an Arizona-based company whose product line now includes “Pickleball Cocktail,” an electrolyte formulated specifically to boost your Pickleball game…

BTW, if you’re trying to play in a place where cities take down nets for the winter, or if you’re playing on a tennis court with painted Pickleball lines (communities across the country are converting underused tennis courts into busy Pickleball courts), you’ll also need to buy a portable net, but there are many of those available for about $100. Happy Pickleballing!!

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