Harrison, Missouri: Is Pickleball Feasible?

Harrison Parks director Chuck Eddington (right) listens as Claude Whited asks the Parks and Recreation Commission to add pickleball to sports offered by the department.

James L. White/Staff – harrisondaily.com

The Harrison Parks and Recreation Commission has been asked to consider adding another sport to its list of programs, one that can appeal to players of all ages.

Claude Whited asked commissioners to think about offering pickleball, a sport he said he was introduced to at the sports complex in Branson, Missouri.

According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes, it can be played outdoors or indoors and as doubles or singles on a badminton-sized court and utilizes a slightly modified tennis net.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities, are credited for creating the game.

According to McCallum, the game was officially named after the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it.

Pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada.

Whited told commissioners last week that the allure of the sport is good for all ages. Seniors especially take to the sport because the court is smaller, meaning less chasing of the ball.

The equipment is minimal. Some additional lines painted or taped on a basketball court and mobile nets are the main requirements.

Parks director Chuck Eddington said those lines wouldn’t necessarily interfere with ones currently on the court for other sports at the Brandon Burlsworth Youth Center, so shouldn’t be a problem.

Whited said Branson sports officials are discontinuing promotion of pickleball there, so Harrison officials might be able to buy their used equipment and minimize any financial investment.

Commissioners discussed when the best times might be to offer the sport if approved. Eddington said that could be arranged as the need occurs.

They also discussed the potential cost to players. Eddington said they would just be offered memberships at $25 and they could play when possible.

Mayor Jerry Jackson was at the meeting and inquired about the seemingly low cost of memberships.

Eddington explained that some people go to the Youth Center to walk for exercise and even to shoot baskets. However, the department has never sought to seek a true profit and there are times when they can’t use it, such as during tournaments, weekends and during the Summer Rec program, so the cost isn’t a factor.

The commission voted to allow Eddington to explore the possibility to see if it’s feasible.

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