Pickleball is the fastest-growing hobby in America. It is a combination of Badminton and Tennis and its popularity grew by over 40% between 2019 and 2021.
Celebrities like Tom Brady and LeBron James are backing the game. They’ve joined forces to create Vibe Pickleball, a professional league.
Some might say the sky is the limit for Pickleball and to that I’d say, if the sky is ‘being a real sport’ then that’s definitely the limit for Pickleball because it’s nothing more than a fad, or a game, and definitely not a real sport.
This clip below was posted by the PickleballTopSpinPro account on TikTok and began to go viral. It was then shared on Twitter and has been viewed a million times. It’s since been picked up by sbnation and other outlets.
Viral Video Proves Pickleball Is Not A Real Sport
If you watch this video 10x and still don’t see the penalty, you are not alone. This is in a Major League Pickleball match between the New Jersey 5’s and St. Louis Shock. The New Jersy 5’s went on to win the match 3-2.
#Repost @memesofpickleball ・・・ Ladies & gentleman, the worst call in pickleball history 😂😭 wtf – #pickleballtopspinpro #pickleball #pickle #mlp #majorleaguepickleball #majorleaguepb #pickleballnationals #pickleballislife #americanpickleball
Definitely a real sport pic.twitter.com/51zvGEI2nN
— kang (@jaycaspiankang) January 29, 2023
For those who need clarification, it is the player in the top right of the video that you are supposed to watch.
At one point he goes from standing with his legs shoulder-width apart to a wider stance. This is somehow a penalty and the other team is awarded a point.
The player in question is named James Ignatowich. He is a former Vanderbilt University tennis star. The ‘hindrance’ was called on him for an ‘aggressive split step’.
The 2023 USA Pickle Ball rule book doesn’t have a full definition for a ‘hindrance’ but this appears to fall under the scope of ‘Distraction’.
Distraction (3.A.6) is defined as: “Distraction – Physical actions by a player that are ‘not common to the game’ that, in the judgment of the referee, may interfere with the opponent’s ability or concentration to hit the ball. Examples include, but are not limited to, making loud noises, stomping feet, waving the paddle in a distracting manner or otherwise interfering with the opponent’s concentration or ability to hit the ball.”
The article on sbnation defines a ‘split step’ as: “A fancy Pickleball term that’s a simple part of tennis. This basically refers to squaring up your stance with both feet roughly shoulder width apart to have a stable base from which you can react quickly in either direction.”
If you watch the clip above again, you’ll see he merely goes from standing narrowly to getting set.
That move, is somehow, a penalty worth a point in Pickleball.
The Pickleball World Reacts To This ‘Penalty’
The comments on TikTok reveal the public isn’t ready to accept this as a ‘real sport’.
The top comment reads ‘forklift certified here… What happened was adults were playing tiny tennis or big ping pong and their shoes were squeaky.’ A+ explanation there of the ‘penalty’ and why Pickleball is not a real sport.
Someone questioned the use of ‘pickleball history’ in the video’s description saying ‘Pickleball history? What, like 3 months?’
Another person wrote ‘I am 100% certain I could be a professional Pickleball player if I simply chose to be.’
Someone else, very reasonably, commented ‘that’s how you over-officiate your sport into oblivion.’ I’m calling a penalty on that comment for referring to Pickleball as a ‘sport’.
One person joked “when I saw that aggressive split step… I about called the authorities. I am so glad we have brave referees to make the tough calls. This cannot happen.”
What. A. Joke.