Tom Brady, LeBron James, Drew Brees, and Kevin Durant are all pickleball obsessed, which is why you shouldn’t be

Please, for the first time in the history of internet culture, have a mind of your own and find a better sport than gloried ping-pong

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Will pickleball be just another fad?
Will pickleball be just another fad?
Image: Getty Images

With the growing number of Nirvana shirts I see young people wearing, I’m eagerly awaiting the angst to match the apparel. Kurt Cobain’s era-defining band became popular because it was part of a movement that was in direct contrast to heavy metal hair bands and ’80s glam epitomized by cocaine and Miami Vice.

The endlessly touched-up and touched-over Instagram photos, and the constant barrage of influencers feel like they’re leading at least a few Gen Zers to openly revolt and wear some of the revolting clothes of my youth. Doc Martens, baggy jeans, and band shirts? Up next, wallet chains and an overdose of fuck society.

If that’s the case, can I offer up the first trendy sacrificial lamb to rightfully be slaughtered? Pickleball.

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Everyone is doing it. Tom Brady and Kim Clijsters are the latest to invest in a team, and they join Drew Brees, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Draymond Green as big-name athletes who’ve picked up a paddle and a pickleball ball(?).

If you have any trace of “PCU” in you, it’s time to dump a bunch of red meat on this vegan march. What is EDM, whatever kids are calling ecstasy nowadays, and Tom Brady if not the bro-volution of hair metal, cocaine, and Don Johnson?

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I think we’ve properly swung enough toward idol worshiping to careen back to the other side of the pendulum, and it starts with glorified ping-pong/old people’s tennis. Respect the grunge bands you wear across your chest, and stop being such a follower. I’m 95 percent sure “Rape Me” — which is actually an anti-rape song told from a victim’s POV — would’ve gotten Cobain canceled in 2022, and 45 percent sure the tween sporting the In Utero shirt doesn’t know that song exists.

Pickleball isn’t a new sport. I played that shit in high school gym class, and I’m twice as old as a high school senior. (Sorry, I tried to put it in relative terms that made me sound older than 36. Still, though, not exactly young.) Buncha lemmings saw something trending, and now we have to pretend to like the spork of sports? Fuck that. Not quite tennis, not quite ping-pong — it’s just weird enough to fool impressionable rubes into thinking they’re interesting by indulging in it.

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Pickleball is the next in a long line of social media fads like those hair-bunned clowns who tried to make slacklining a thing. When was the last time you saw someone slacklining? If you could easily hook up a trapeze between a couple of Elms, I’m sure a handful of pea brains would swing around to show off their pliability — and hopefully crack a vertebra or two in the process.

If you told 18-year-old Sean that the internet was going to lead to a phenomenon called influencers, he would’ve seriously considered doing away with readily accessible porn to save the future from that plight. There was an age when selling out was condemned, not celebrated. Hocking shitty products were meant for con artists and past-their-prime has-beens.

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Tell me, out of Brady, Brees, LeBron, KD, Draymond, and Love, which one is still in his prime? Are they all not latching onto the limelight like the most cloying of sweet-and-sour sauces that stick to your fingers? If you have a good reason why you would want to be like a guy whose features get more Dick Clark-ian by the day, or athletes in their mid-30s who think having a glass of Syrah in their hand makes them profound, let me know. Brady is 45 and looks more like Ken than Ryan Gosling.

Stephen Colbert is hosting a celebrity pickleball tournament for charity, and a guest list headed by Will Ferrell and Sugar Ray Leonard is even more of an indication that the sport has jumped the shark.

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I’m not trying to discourage exercise or charity. There are plenty of ways to add competition to your workout, just like there’s a multitude of ways to do some squats without posting about #legday, or to stand out without social media’s approval.

I’d ask the internet if all of their friends leaped off a bridge, would they do it, too? But eating toxic Tide pods went viral, so I’m at a loss for adages here.

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Pickleball isn’t cool. Save yourself some money and future shame. If you want to have fun with wooden paddles, get into BDSM like a normal person.