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Opinion

Only Pathological Liars Apologize for Net Cords

by Thomas Shields on

There are certain rules in life that you simply abide by. In some cases, you may not even stop to consider the origin. But it doesn't matter, because they're the rules of life.

The unwritten rules that we all agree 'just make sense'.

  • Allow others to get off the elevator before you get on
  • Don't cook fish in the office kitchen
  • If someone shows you a picture on their phone, don't start swiping through their photos (if someone does this to you, cut them out of your life immediately. Seriously, that is serial killer behavior)

Even sports have their own unspoken rules:

  • Don't shoot the puck after the whistle (or be ready to fight)
  • Don't cross the pitcher's mound in baseball (or, again, be ready to fight)
  • Don't walk across someone's putting line (or, be ready to get sued by Brad's father, a powerful attorney)

And then there is an even further subset of rules. Rules based on honor and pride:

  • Don't call fouls in pickup basketball. You ain't Kobe
  • Never lay up in golf. Go for it
  • Kick the ball out when someone is injured in soccer

In pickleball, we have our own quirky rules. Here are a few, some more widely embraced than others:

  • Don't lob over and over again (nobody likes the lob guy)
  • If you're calling a kitchen fault on the other team in rec play, it better be really obvious
  • Don't quick-serve while your opponent is still getting into position
  • Don't chainsaw serve (it ruins the game, sorry Zane)
  • Don't drop shot the elderly
  • Tap paddles in between games (unless you're Riley Newman)

But the most quirky of them all...Scratch that, the most absolutely insane and bat shit crazy of them all is....apologizing after a net cord winner.

It's insane. It should be abolished. We should reverse this rule entirely. Instead of the obligation to apologize, you now have the obligation not to apologize.

Related: Pickleball Players Say: Rule Book Should Punish These Violations

Why? Because it's a lie.

Anyone who apologizes for a net cord is a liar. And technically, anyone who apologizes after every net cord, is a pathological liar.

I'm not sorry when it happens. You're not sorry when it happens. It's okay to not be okay (don't think this applies here, but it sounded good).

Why would anybody ever apologize for a net cord winner shot in pickleball?

So why do we apologize? Why do we willingly lie and fake sincerity in an effort to be polite? Isn't that ironic?

The rule is based on honor and etiquette. But isn't it the opposite? Isn't lying DIShonorable? Isn't that poor etiquette?

Have we learned nothing from the most prolific high school prom queen of all time, Regina George?

So let's stop to consider the origin.

I don't fault you and I don't fault others for apologizing. It's simply what we've been taught. It's an unwritten rule of the game.

You don't want to be the only person that doesn't do it. That person is a jerk...at least that's what we sheep have been manipulated into believing.

So let me instead suggest this: consider the origin.

Pickleball has picked up the net cord apology from tennis.

Tennis. We've borrowed this illogical phenomenon from tennis.

We are NOT tennis. We are pickleball.

In tennis, the 'rule' makes slightly more sense. Net cord winners happen far less often.

The court is larger, and a ball that clips the net and dribbles over is almost impossible to get to. An apology MAYBE makes sense...it's an acknowledgment of luck, in a rare circumstance, that results in an unearned point.  

But in pickleball, it's extremely common for the ball to clip the net as it passes to the other side. It happens ALL THE TIME.

Not only that, but it can happen multiple times in a rally, and the rally continues on like nothing happened. It's more rare for it not to happen a couple times a game.

Heck, even Zane Navratil, host of PicklePod (is he known for something else, too? Idk, I can't remember), was recently discussing how he was hitting net cords deliberately in practice.

Imagine if you could add the net cord shot to your repertoire. Are we that far away from this being a viable strategy? (might be a stretch).

“Shallow men believe in luck and circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Andrei Daescu

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ever heard of him?

Own it. Embrace the fact that you won the point. Isn't a forehand from the baseline that clips the net, dribbles over, and earns you the point the optimal outcome?

I'd argue that those who seek to enforce this rule are the same people who don't bat an eye at forcing their coworkers to bask in the wafting scent of three day old halibut fresh out of the microwave on a gloomy Monday.

Be the solution

So consider this your wake-up call. Plant your flag in the ground.

Say it with me: "I will no longer apologize for something that I want to happen."

Don't be a sheep. Don't be a part of the problem.

Be a part of the solution. Stop apologizing for net cords. And stop expecting an apology.

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