|As the Pickleball Turns
While playing at a local facility last week, an older man came to try his hand at pickleball for the first time. He was accompanied by his son, who had played with us for the first time the previous week. Right away I could tell it was the man's first time. Attired in a polo shirt nicely tucked into his belted blue jeans, he was not dressed for the game. He also had on a pair of tennis shoes more suited to walking outdoors than quick movement on a wooden basketball floor. Most of the pickleball falls are due to wearing incorrect shoes.
Another woman and I played the first game with the two of them to get the dad acquainted with the rules and scoring. We had a good time. After that "dad" played with other partners as players rotated on and off the three courts. The son and I had just come off a court when all of a sudden there was a huge bang - not once, but twice. I turned to look for the noise and I saw that "dad" was down on the floor clutching his head. He had run backwards for a ball and smacked into the wall before hitting the ground. The impact cut his head open, and he was bleeding quite profusely. I went over to grab the son to tell him his dad was hurt, and someone else dashed out the door to get towels and advise the staff of the recreation center. Emergency responders were called, so the rest of us cleared to one side of the gym to wait. He was evaluated and taken away by ambulance. I'm sure they wanted to make sure he didn't have a concussion. After 30 minutes, play resumed on the courts. We have not heard how "dad" is doing. I'm not sure either he or his son will return.
At the same facility this week, there was almost a brawl between two men. Over a woman, no less. I had never seen any of the three stars of this drama before. I'll call the first man D and the other two Mr. and Mrs. I had played a game with D earlier in the session, and found him to be very aggressive and a bit of a ball hog. Whatever...As I tell everyone, I play for fun and fitness so I tend not to take the game too seriously. Don't get me wrong, I try to play the best I can and it's always great to win, but it is no skin off my nose if my side loses. Anyway, D found himself on a team with Mrs., and Mr. was sitting on the bleachers next to their court waiting for his turn to play. Apparently D did not like the way Mrs. was playing, and kept telling her to get up to the front line. He was correct, but the Mrs. did not like him telling her what to do. Finally, they got into it a little, and she asked someone from the bleachers to come in for her. Mrs. then walked out. That's when Mr. got up in the face of D and told him off. We could hear the yelling all the way down on our court at the other end of the gym. Mr. told D he needed to apologize to Mrs., and D said that he already had. Whether that is true or not, I don't know. But the yelling continued, and Mrs. finally came back in and dragged Mr. out of there. I doubt they will return either.
I have seen one other tense situation, and it happened at my home pickleball facility. Two men that I'll refer to as C and B were playing together for the first time, though they both have played pickleball for quite awhile. C kept telling B what he was doing wrong. B finally had enough, and told C to quit telling him what to do. C walked off the court, packed up his toys and went home. He has never come back to that facility, though I play with him on Fridays at a different location. Basically C just expects you to get everything that isn't hit directly to him. You might as well be playing a singles game. But now that I know what to expect, I don't mind having him as a partner. A number of people won't play with him. Really, folks - it's just a game.
Who needs daytime soaps? Come to the pickleball courts!