Today we’re straying off money economics and delving into the topic of investing in a sport. And why not? Investing your time into learning a sport is as valid topic as investing ones money.
You’ve heard time is money and spending the time to learn a sport, much like investing, must have some sort of payback. The obvious payback to any sport, besides the lucky few who make oodles of money from it or become famous (think the NFL or NBA), is the enjoyment one gets from playing. The investment part is how much work (practice) is required to be able to get good at it and subsequently enjoy enough to make the time learning it worthwhile.
Some may call it a learning curve and we have all tried one sport or another. Some sports we have stuck with, others we may have given up for whatever reason.
Obviously the harder a sport is to learn, the flatter the learning curve. I’ve played a number of sports and spent literally decades in martial arts. So much so I earned my instructors license in a hard style of Karate and was good enough to make it on a college university Karate team. I also ski and play golf, racquetball, tennis, football, baseball and host of other sports.
One of the flattest learning curves I have ever experienced (in other words the hardest sport to learn) was windsurfing. This particular sport was so hard to learn if I had been any older (I was in my mid 20’s) I would have given up. But I learned it after hundreds of dunks and was so exhausted falling off and getting back on the board, I must have burned a million calories. I did after much pain, learn and enjoyed it immensely.
On the flip side about two years ago I was introduced to the game of Pickle ball.
Having played racquetball for decades, and tennis, upon picking up a pickle ball racquet, I found it the easiest game on the planet to learn. Being the fastest growing sport in the country, obviously many others have found it easy to learn and get proficient at it as well.
How easy is pickle ball?
Literally stupid easy.
So easy in fact, it seems everybody claims to be an expert at it. I have to admit, I have met more people I know that play this game, and although I haven’t played it more the handful of times, my racquetball experience has bled over to pickle ball and I will bet anyone willing to play me I can either beat them or give them one hell of a game. It’s that easy, at least for me.
I think I’ve figured out why so many tennis and racquetball players, and indeed the average Joe and Jane are gravitating to pickle ball. The investment in time to learn it is minimal.
Literally anyone who plays it can get proficient at it in a surprisingly short amount of time. That’s one payback. There are many others that keep people coming back.
Unlike tennis, one gets a lot more hits at the ball without having to chase the ball very far.
Pickle ball is like giant ping pong, played with a whiffle type plastic ball and oversized wood or plastic paddles. This means the ball doesn’t go very far and you can whack the hell out of it.
The court is dinky so the distance from one end to the other is but a few steps. That means both old and young, able and un-abled bodied people can play. I’ve seen people with oxygen tanks on the court, people with limps and bad knees and older women who can seemingly barely move be able to give a competitive game.
The rules are simple and I think the real hooks are it is, like I said, stupid easy, and one gets ten times the hits per minute than any other racquet sport. You also don’t have move much and did I mention its crazy fun?
In investing terms, the payback far outweighs the investment. And people from all walks of life are picking up a paddle and trying it.
You can contact your local pickle ball club through the national website at https://www.usapa.org/.
There are clubs literally everywhere and more and more cities are putting in courts. Compared to tennis and other sports, pickle courts are small and inexpensive to build and maintain, and everywhere I go it seems there’s somebody playing and it’s easy to rotate in wherever you go.
There is a downside to this sport however, at least for me.
Since it’s so easy, everybody thinks they’re an expert, and you’ll find more than a few people will be willing to step in and help you out sort of speak.
However for a person like me who has spent his whole life playing a variety of sports, I find the constant kibitzing quite irritating.
Yea, I got it. You hit the stupid ball.
Pickle ball. Give it a try. You’ll love it.
Marc Cuniberti hosts “Money Matters” on KVMR FM aired on 66 radio stations nationwide. He is a financial columnist for a variety of publications. Marc holds a BA in Economics from SDU with honors 1979. His website is moneymanagementradio.com and he can be reached at (530) 559-1214. Visit him on Facebook (FB) under Marc Cuniberti and also on the "Money Matters” and “Money Matters Investing in Community" FB pages and You Tube. The views expressed are opinions only.