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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


OPA errs on side of caution with closure

At the risk of having bricks thrown through the window, the question must be asked: why do pickleball players seem almost militant? That’s how it appears at times, judging from the escalating demands of picklers across the country for more recognition.

The sport’s rapid growth, however, is part of the problem, as it far exceeds the ability of communities, neighborhoods and local governments to accommodate its swelling numbers as quickly as enthusiasts would like.

This explosion of popularity also has pitted picklers against tennis players who don’t want to lose their courts to them, against neighbors, who don’t want to hear the whack-whack of pickleballs against paddles, and against local governing authorities whose long-term financial plans could not have anticipated that pickleball would spread like kudzu in the immediate post-pandemic period.

Big membership numbers, in other words, don’t automatically send the game to the head of the line in terms of facilities and facility financing, when commitments to other sports have already been made and must be honored.

Consequently, it was disconcerting when the word began circulating in Ocean Pines early this week that the administration’s closure of the racquet sports center to inspect for mold was actually retaliation for picklers’ aggressive stance on racquet sports fee changes and their insistence that a better racquet center be provided.

Although the only thing that may be growing faster than pickleball these days is the embrace of conspiracy theories, this one is wrong. A complaint was made about the presence of mold in the building, it was alleged that it had made some people sick, and the OPA’s insurers told management to err on the side of caution because of the possible liability.

That’s it. A “let’s show them” conversation was not a factor in the decision. Again, pickleball players should try to understand that while theirs may be the most popular game in town these days, it isn’t the only game and communities are struggling to catch up.