“On the courts at the Palm Springs Pickleball Classic in California”/Maggie Shannon for The New York Times

Pickleball is the new Trumpism

Making America More Irritating

Jeffrey Denny
3 min readJan 31, 2023


Jeffrey Denny

On Monday morning, my back yard was the usual serene slice of paradise.

There were trees, gardens, primrose paths, songbirds songing, and deliciously fragrant mulch.

On Tuesday morning, I looked out to find two pickleball courts in my backyard, then five. This occurred without my permission but apparently legally due to the eminent domain and manifest destiny land grab that built this great nation.

By Wednesday morning, 10 more Pickleball courts appeared. Soon thereafter, 20, then 50, and then 2,000 stretching beyond the horizon as they metastasized like a cancerous Superfund plume.

Every court was booked from dawn to dusk from here to eternity with wonderful people having the glorious, raucous, hip-displacing, knee-replacing, shoulder-tearing time of their lives that also thrilled the orthopedic industry. Soon the courts were overbooked 24–7 after the “Picklers” demanded the installation of lighting.

A few were psychologically healthy. Many were Pickleball addict deniers who can’t or won’t shake the Pickleball monkey off their backs. Others are merely cheating on “Pickleball-Free 2023” or lying at Pickleball Anonymous meetings that they haven’t picked up a racket in almost 24 hours.

As only Picklers are proud of, Pickleball is America’s most popular and fastest growing sport.

Other than online bullying, woke- and anti-woke canceling, and discovering classified documents.

Pickleball is now a $900 bajillion industry, swamping the GDP of every country in our solar system and beyond, other than the remote exclusive luxury tropical resort island nation of Musk-Bezonia that you’ll never guess on Worldle.

I don’t mean to be snide. I deeply cherish that Pickleball helps sedentary agoraphobic and amazing introverted people who hate people to get out of the house, exercise, socialize, have fun, and explore new activities that lead to beer. Especially post-Covid. Yay to the yay!

But as a lifelong tennis player who is terrorized and traumatized by the toxic encroachment of Pickleball — and outraged by Picklers and chalked Pickleball lines on public tennis courts — allow me to Caddyshack Baby Ruth the pool by noting at least 10 eerie similarities between Pickleball and Trumpism.

I offer this comparison as a public service to deter the Pickleball curious and dabblers and stop the terrible Pickleball spread:

  1. Like Trumpism, Pickleball is a cult that threatens America and our culture, society, and all that is decent and good that we hold dear and made us great.
  2. Like Trumpers, Picklers don’t understand their fellow Americans who fail or refuse to love Pickleball. Just like Mike “My Pillow” Lindell doesn’t get why his fellow Americans fail or refuse to believe Trump won reelection or buy his pillows. Even while Bed, Bath and Beyoncé is flailing and failing.
  3. Like Trumpism, Pickleball is dividing and polarizing America. For instance, between tennis players who’ve struggled, sweated and suffered their entire lives for a barely decent game versus Picklers who are more competitive than good.
  4. Like Trumpers at Trump rallies, Picklers are noisy, irritating, and irrationally passionate to the point of psychopathy, sociopathy and other -pathys. And proud of it.
  5. Like with Trump and Trumpism that sneers at the traditional democratic rule of law going back nearly 250 years to our Founders and centuries back to ancient Athens, Pickleball made up its own rules.
  6. Like Trumpers, Picklers rebel against the liberal elites who govern traditional racket sports such as tennis.
  7. Like Trumpers, Picklers feel that education, such as learning tennis, is stupid.
  8. Like Trumpers, Picklers don’t care if people look down on them. They take pride in it, or if lacking EQ, don’t notice.
  9. Like Trumpers, while Picklers are still a small minority of Americans, they have inordinate and undemocratic power by gerrymandering public parks and recreation areas. They cheer authoritarians who annex lands such as tennis courts.
  10. Like with Trumpism, we fear yet bow to the power of Pickleball. Picklers say don’t worry about Pickleball. It’s definitely not the Matrix blue pill of simple and uncritical enjoyment to enslave the masses, but the red pill of reality and enlightenment. All hail Pickleball!

Yet, good news: Like with Trumpism and also racket ball, if history and decency serve, the Pickleball craze will fade away.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.



Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.