I like listening to the Smartless podcast, and understand that a lot of the commentary among co-hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett and their guest is just for laughs. But John McEnroe went too far when he started whining (a longtime specialty of his) about Pickleball. And Will Arnett just piled on. Here’s the clip (warning: contains salty language):

Yes, whiffle ball is not the same as baseball. And pickleball is not the same as tennis. And that’s partly the point. I used to love playing tennis… that was before my arthritic knees and feet betrayed me. Tennis turned into a game of “fetch.” And if you’re spending more time walking over to pick up a ball than you are hitting the ball, it’s really frustrating. Pickleball changed the equation. Yes, it’s a more compact area. And yes, it’s a plastic ball. But there’s still plenty of movement, plenty of strategy and it’s a ton of fun.

I AM serious, Johnny Mac. There’s no need to get your all-white shorts in a wad over “some college player who didn’t make it in tennis,” because:

  1. That guy is making six figures playing a sport he loves, and definitely having fun doing so.
  2. I’d rather watch him play pickleball than watch you play it.
  3. It’s not really about Ben Johns, it’s about the millions of Bens, Johns, and Joans who are getting exercise, making friends, and having fun instead of sitting on their butts.

And I found it funny (but not the way he intended it) that Will Arnett was calling out pickleball for being “trash” and an activity that requires very little movement when, in almost every episode of Smartless, he talks about playing golf. If you want to start the “lazy person’s activity” argument, let’s start there, Willie. Because pickleball is legit.

In a 2016 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 12 middle-aged players burned 40% more calories during a 30-minute pickleball game than during 30 minutes of walking, increasing their heart rates to within the moderate-intensity exercise zone. A small six-week study of 15 people ages 40 to 85 who played an hour of pickleball three days a week showed improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Plus, regular practice can help improve balance, which is important in preventing falls as you age. Because pickleball requires both hand-eye and foot coordination, says Casper, “your balance, your movement, and your coordination all get better as you play more.”

From this Time magazine article.

I know Arnett will come around though, probably when he’s a bit older. And let’s hope he has the whiffle balls to admit this: