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The pickleball craze, explained

And how cities are dealing with the boom.

Pickleball, a recreational racquet sport that combines tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, became a national obsession in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The sport’s popularity is due to the social nature of the game, how easy it is to learn to play, and the game’s portability. With nets that can be set up on any hard surface, the game is generally more accessible than other racquet sports.

But pickleball’s spike in popularity created a public space problem when crowds of pickleball players began erecting temporary courts on public tennis courts, basketball courts, and parking lots. This, combined with the loud noises produced by rigid paddles and hollow, plastic balls, has created a new fight for space between pickleball players and pretty much everyone else.

As more pickleball facilities open across the country, the strain on other public spaces has been easing. Now plans are being developed in cities and towns across the US and Canada to embrace the pickleball boom and develop free, dedicated spaces for the sport.

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