Emerging Sport Quickly Gains Popularity

As the summer approaches, parents are scrounging for ideas and programs to keep their kids busy. Despite the increasing number of available opportunities in recent years, today’s parents still dread to hear those inevitable words: “I’m bored.”

Almost 60 years ago, three fathers found themselves in a similar situation to many parents today. Tired of hearing their children complain they are bored, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum got creative. They created a makeshift game using ping pong paddles, a perforated plastic ball, and an old badminton court.

Over the years, the improvised game developed into a real sport called Pickleball. According to the USA Pickleball Association, 4.8 million people in the US play the game and it is the fastest growing sport in the country. Just in the last two years, there has been a 39.9% participation increase, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the US and Canada, there are an estimated 9,500 pickleball venues. The International Federation of Pickleball reports that the game is played in 70 countries. Tournaments are featured on many television stations, including Fox Sports, ESPN+, and CBS Sports.

So, what exactly is Pickleball?

The up-and-coming sport is often associated with tennis, ping pong, and badminton. Many choose to play in indoor or outdoor tennis courts, lowering the nets and implementing additional boundary lines. Players hit a perforated ball over the net using paddles, with the goal of preventing the opponent from hitting the ball back.

Because of its simple rules and accessible equipment, the game has gained popularity. Older folks have taken a particular interest in the sport, as moving around in a small court is easier than having to run across a large court or field in other sports. The pandemic powered its popularity as well, since players are distanced at all times.

Contrary to popular belief, the sport does not include any pickles and it is unknown how the game inherited its name. Some speculate it was named for Joel Pritchard’s family dog, who was called Pickles. Pickles enjoyed running away with the plastic ball, and the family referred to it as “Pickles’ ball” – similar to today’s name, Pickleball.

Regardless of its origins, Pickleball is undoubtedly a fun sport for people of all ages. If you think introducing this game to your kids may help eliminate some boredom this summer, give it a whirl!

Andrew Currey Turns 41

Today is Andrey Currey’s birthday.  The Australian javelin thrower has broken the record in his country eight times – and the longest he has thrown it is 85.75 meters.  But at one of the Olympic trials, he only came in third with his throw of 78.33m although that was still adequate enough for him to make the team. But he should be forgiven for not being totally on his game since his wife (and fellow javelin thrower) Louise, endured a knee injury while competing on the first day of the trials.

Currey’s Career History

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Currey has definitely had an impressive javelin throwing career, but no doubt the highlight of this was back in 1998 when he won the bronze medal.  In 1994 at the Commonwealth Games he came in sixth and five years later fifth (even though in 1998 he threw more than 80m).  Making it to the Atlanta Olympics was one small step for Currey but one huge leap for Australia, since he was the first man ever from his country to compete at Olympic level since the 1956 Melbourne Games.  But since he came in at number 21, he didn’t make it to the final which was somewhat disappointing since he’d just endured three national record-breaking throws in three weeks.

On three separate occasions, Currey has competed in World Championships.  In 1993 he came in at number 40; two years later at number 16; and in 1999, number 21.  Today he is also a fitness consultant and his hobbies include: fishing, water skiing; golf and tennis.

Warning: Coaching May Be Dangerous to Your Health

Many people don’t realize just how stressful being a sports coach truly is.  Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio had a heart attack this week, following Saturday’s overtime victory against Notre Dame.  Winning can truly be hazardous to your health in the coaching field.

Certainly, heredity and physical health play roles in your heart’s health, but so do your lifestyle and pressures.  Football coaches earn their big bucks with incredibly long hours of coaching and worries about recruiting and future potentials for the team.

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Certainly, other coaches should take heed of the lesson from Coach Mark Dantonio and focus as much on their health as they do on their game.