I warned you about the power that Big Pickleball had over this nation of supposed freethinkers, but nobody listened, and now the Catholic Church is involved. The Pope’s greatest emissary Stephen Colbert will be doing a televangelism in front of the world's biggest interfaith confederation of dinkheads, cheaters, and losers. That’s right, Colbert is going to host a Funny or Die-produced celebrity pickleball tournament on CBS called “Pickled,” wherein a bunch of childhood heroes of mine will be doing deep state agitprop via their tiny little idiotic pingpong paddles that is sure to somehow influence the Georgia midterm elections in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s favor.
According to Variety, 16 celebrities will compete for the “Colbert Cup” on November 17. Celebs include Will Ferrell, Max Greenfield, Luis Guzman, Tig Notaro, Daniel Dae Kim, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, Kelly Rowland, and Emma Watson (?) (????) (?????). Announcers Cari Champion, John Michael Higgins, and Bill Raftery will do the play-by-plays and probably offer some of the most infantilizing color commentary on earth. Kenny Loggins and Stephen Colbert will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together, during which I will be kneeling.
This announcement comes on the heels of a spate of news stories (mostly in the New York Times) planted by savvy global PR companies about the joys of the game. Lebron James invested in Major League Pickleball, which will expand from 12 to 16 teams in 2023. Tom Brady did the same. These are major figures investing in the sport, not just Vanderpump Rules’ Randall “Lala’s old man” Emmett and his forthcoming pickleball documentary, which will likely have the same CGI budget as his last joint, The Irishman.
But the news is not all sunny. Pickleball has also started nationwide class wars. West Village tennis courts are getting dangerous. In Chapel Hill, NC, pro-pickleball activists stormed a town council meeting with signs that said things like “We are diverse,” a story that made it all the way to Councilwoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s desk.
As pickleball rises in popularity, so does a trend in late night comedians hosting televised, enormous, neon versions of games that normal adults have only ever considered engaging in as a last resort three months into Covid-19 lockdowns, such as Jimmy Fallon’s “Password” reboot, which is harrowingly a ratings hit. This reminds me that things could be worse. Say what you want about Stephen Colbert, but at least he’s not Jimmy Fallon.
As Pickleball Fever continues to violently sweep the nation, there are a limited number of responses available to us as concerned citizens. We will be sure to boycott pickle company Claussen, who is sponsoring the halftime show. According to a rep for the company, the connection between the two entities “was clear, but it goes far beyond that as both Claussen and pickleball have truly dedicated fans while promoting fun, inclusivity and an overall release from the ordinary.” One thing’s for damn sure — none of this is ordinary.