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Anchor Drop, January 26, 2023: Tom Rants About Pickleball

It’s a slow week for Vanderbilt sports and Tom’s in a ranting mood. Get ready.

APP Sunmed Mesa Open Photo by Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

Good morning.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Really, my favorite Anchor Drops to write are the ones where it’s a slow week for Vanderbilt sports and I don’t have to write about some event that either happened last night or is scheduled today and also when I saw something really stupid float across the Anchor of Gold Twitter feed.

Today’s topic: pickleball. Anchor of Gold Twitter follower and avid tennis player Dan Wolken hates it, because cities are converting tennis courts to pickleball courts because pickleball is to 2023 what pogs were to 1995, and imagine if you had bet all your money on pogs in 1995 and how poor you would be today.

This, frankly, might be the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

I’ve never played pickleball (or tennis, really, for that matter), but from best I can tell, the appeal of the thing is that it’s less physically demanding than tennis. There was already a less-physically-demanding version of tennis and it was called racquetball, and you can probably find a racquetball court at your local Y, where 40-year-old dudes get in a game on their lunch break. The idea of a professional racquetball league is so mind-numbingly stupid that you probably want to punch me through your computer screen just for making the suggestion, just like you would probably do if I tried to get you to invest in a franchise for a national bocce ball league, or a national shuffleboard league. Just what the hell are we...

Tom Brady may or may not have his eye on retirement, but he’s certainly expanding his portfolio of extracurricular interests – this time, putting his cash into pickleball.

Ah, right. Tom Brady.

It’s no coincidence that we live in a world where some very visible people are insisting that cryptocurrency is the future, even as FTX was recently revealed to be a complete scam and crypto ATMs are probably popping up at your local convenience store, the surest sign that this is another thing that exists mostly to separate you from your hard-earned money. Because anything that’s placed right next to the lottery tickets and the energy drinks (which are also terrible for you, sorry, Vanderbilt students who got a free energy drink for showing up at the Kentucky game on Tuesday night and you definitely needed one for that) is something that is definitely not worth investing in.

Anyway, there are two sports truisms here.

One, the ease of playing a sport is roughly inversely proportional to whether that sport is compelling as a spectator sport. There is no such thing as a sport that exists mostly as a substitute for a real sport for old and/or unathletic people that is also something you want to invest any time or money in as a spectator sport. Unless you just enjoy watching accountants play racquetball during lunch, and I can’t help you there.

And two, and this is the real hook of the scam, there are a lot more people who want to own a professional sports team than there are professional sports teams. There are rich people who want to own a pro team, but either they aren’t that kind of rich people or they run into the problem that MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL only have so many franchises. The benign version of this is constant MLS expansion, but soccer can be a fun sport to watch. The somewhat-less-benign version of this are college sports boosters, but especially the Phil Knight/T. Boone Pickens (R.I.P.) types who essentially function as the owner of their alma mater’s athletic teams. The malignant version of this are celebrities and professional athletes investing in a fad. There’s a reason why basketball was invented about 60 years before the NBA became a thing, and after several decades of staying power as a college sport: that was about how long it took for people to understand that this was a viable thing. A thing people started playing because they were bored during the pandemic doesn’t suddenly become a professional sport three years later. We’re well past the time where we’re watching Vanderbilt-Rutgers football games from 1987 on YouTube because sports literally aren’t happening. Yes, that’s an actual football game that someone uploaded to YouTube. You’re welcome.

Sports on TV

All times Central. College basketball schedule here.

  • 2:00 PM: PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open, Second Round (Golf Channel)
  • 6:30 PM: NBA: Knicks at Celtics (TNT)
  • 9:00 PM: NBA: Mavericks at Suns (TNT)


SEC Basketball: Florida 81, South Carolina 60 ... Tennessee 70, Georgia 41 ... Texas A&M 79, Auburn 63 ... Alabama 66, Mississippi State 63.

NBA: Magic 126, Pacers 120 ... 76ers 137, Nets 133 ... Wizards 108, Rockets 103 ... Bucks 107, Nuggets 99 ... Timberwolves 111, Pelicans 102 ... Hawks 137, Thunder 132 ... Trail Blazers 134, Jazz 124 ... Raptors 113, Kings 95 ... Warriors 122, Grizzlies 120 ... Lakers 113, Spurs 104.

NHL: Senators 2, Islanders 1 ... Maple Leafs 3, Rangers 2 ... Hurricanes 3, Stars 2 ... Blue Jackets 3, Oilers 2 ... Kraken 6, Canucks 1.