Battle of the Paddle: Islanders Divided Over Pickleball

No sport generates more adoration or drama in BC than Pickleball

The new sport is causing splits in some communities, while bringing others together. Weigh in on this wildly (un)popular game

Whether you love it or hate it, of all the sports news, none seems to generate funnier headlines than Pickleball does.

The exciting mix of tennis and ping pong has a generous fan club in the gulf islands – and a just as prominent group of haters.

The reason for so many people’s vehement distaste for what most would simply view as a fun game is the record level of noise it can generate.

Unlike tennis, which uses a relatively soft and furry ball, pickle palls are made of hard plastic, producing an almost gunshot-like sound with every hit.

The noise can be so bad that it induces some pretty crazy behaviour from those living near a court – a Chilliwack couple just went so far as a week-long hunger strike in protest of the pickleball courts near them. Yikes.

While no one has yet had to resort to a hunger strike, residents across the Island have staged their own forms of protest.

On Mayne Island, a BC Supreme Court judge recently dismissed a case involving a group of tennis players who had tried to take over two tennis courts to prevent people from playing Pickleball there.

Although the case has gone away, the struggle over the courts created a genuine rift between Mayne Islanders.

“It’s been quite devastating,” Adrian Gowing, Mayne Island Tennis Association president, told CBC News.

“You know, we’re in our little village here. At times we get on the ferries to go places, and now you’re sort of looking around going, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk to that person, I don’t want to talk to that person.’ It’s become quite uncomfortable,” said Gowing.

On the other hand, Pickleball has been gaining a massive following in the Comox Valley and seems to be bringing the community together.

“Pickleball is fun….. Pickleball is competitive….. Pickleball is recreational….. Pickleball is social; Pickleball is anything you want it to be!.. YOU WILL LOVE IT!” says the uber-enthusiastic Comox Valley Pickleball group on their Facebook page.

They host weekly skill sessions and don’t seem to have gotten any public flack over generating noise – likely because the courts are mainly indoors and out of residential earshot.

In recognition of National Pickleball Day, the Comox Valley group is hosting an Open House at the Rotary Highlands Pickleball Courts for their 500 group members and anyone else that would like to join!

Will this be your new favourite sport? Or do you hate Pickleball just as much as pickles? Let us know in the comments.