There's a lot for pickleball fans to be thankful for as 2023 comes to a close. It's the year our sport truly grew globally; the year two warring pro leagues finally agreed to shake hands. This year saw court numbers grow exponentially, especially in areas which really needed them.
But at this time of year, there's plenty to remain hopeful for, too. It's the season for wish lists, after all, and my pickleball wish list is fairly long.
Here are just a few things I hope the pickleball community (or the world at large) accepts in the new year:
I wish for media companies to stop using "it's a big dill" in headlines.
Look, I get it. Puns are fun. If anyone could ever relate to this point, it's me: I literally own a book called Puns Puns Puns. I can quote (some) Shakespeare. I am often called a grandpas despite being 31 years old. Puns are ok by me.
As a professional in pickleball journalism, I can also relate to working in media. Writers in this industry tend to love making cutesy headlines because they typically catch readers' eyes (even if you, the reader, don't want to admit it).
But enough is enough. I've seen at least 100 "big dill" headlines and variants within the last six months alone from local news outlets and other sites. I probably saw it 300 times last year.
The joke is played out. The pickleball community is still the same fun-focused crowd it always was – and the ridiculousness of having "pickle" in the name of an organized, professional sport will never be forgotten.
But must we ceaselessly repeat ourselves with this dill (dull/dill? gET iT?1?!?*&) joke? Let's find a new aspect of the game to hyperfixate on, please.
Similarly: stop using "in a pickle" for headlines describing clubs in trouble or cities facing noise complaints. That's just as bad.
I wish for everyone to feel like they don't need to apologize for net cord drops.
You may remember this article written by The Dink's founder Thomas about how "only pathological liars apologize for net cord drop winners."
His main point is that net cords are more a part of pickleball than they are tennis, and that the custom of apologizing for them in tennis makes more sense than doing so in pickleball.
If you haven't read that article, I highly recommend you do. Thomas makes some excellent points, and I'm not just saying that because he's my boss.
But when I first read his opinion, I strongly disagreed with it. His supposition is that those who apologize for net cord drops are either posturing in a display of faux politeness, or keeping a tennis-based tradition alive in a sport that's different from tennis.
Related: How to React to Net Cord Drops
In his argument, Thomas neglected another sector of net cord apologizers: people with social anxiety.
If you're even a little shy or socially anxious, you're likely to apologize for this shot if you sense that's the right thing to do. I've done it, and I know I'm not the only one.
But ultimately, Thomas' points still prevail. There's no reason we should feel compelled to apologize in the first place, regardless of our reason for doing so.
Net cord points are going to happen at all skill levels in pickleball, so it's nothing to apologize for.
"I play pickleball every day. This is the best thing I've ever gotten"
Over $250 of value in each box, for only $99. Shop now.
I wish for harmony between pro factions, players, and pending legal agreements.
The merger. The Player Collective. The drama. We recently recapped the state of pro pickleball – and the future isn't looking so bright.
We have a lot to overcome if we're going to see a merger happen between the PPA Tour and MLP in 2024.
Players need to feel seen and heard by both sets of leadership – but we currently don't even know exactly how many pros even take any issue with PPA and/or MLP execs.
The financial end needs to be sorted out – we've estimated how much money MLP has raised recently, but we have no idea if it's enough to sustain contracts and complete the merger by the strangely self-imposed Jan. 31, 2024 deadline.
As is the case with most problems in life, the solution relies on open, honest communication between all the affected parties.
So, with all due respect to the hurt feelings and embattled history between MLP, PPA, and the players: please communicate and get your sh*t together.