Can Pickleball Save America?

Ed Shapiro ·

As in politics, a few famous families dominate pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in America. One is the Johnsons, of Florida. In January, on a breezy afternoon in Boca Raton, J. W. Johnson, a strapping nineteen-year-old with short brown bangs and a leather necklace, took to the court for a semifinal match at a tournament.

Johnson is taciturn, with an often impenetrable expression. He was seeded second in the tournament; his opponent, Zane Navratil, a twenty-six-year-old former C.P.A. from Wisconsin, was seeded first.

Pickleball, a tennis-like sport played on a smaller court, places a gentle strain on the body, and both men had the oxygenated flush of a long day of exercise. They began by dinking—softly bouncing the ball back and forth—before Navratil, with gazelle-like grace, executed two snazzy moves at once: an Erne (which involved a flying leap) and a body shot (which involved hitting Johnson in the gut).

He chuckled with contentment. Then, as a storm front moved in, the tide began to turn. “Wow, what an inside-out dink there from J. W. Johnson!” a commentator at a nearby media booth said. Johnson, jaw slack with concentration, took control.

Read the entire article here.

Courtesy of

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to recieve news, promotions, and annoucements.