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"How are you doing?"

"Not too bad for a man in my condition."

"What's your condition?"

"High mileage."

That's me. I'm a high mileage guy. This status is literally true in light of how often we crisscrossed the Atlantic on 747s. Like it or not, age affects our body. If you add into the picture my seven decades of life experience, you get the picture. I'm no longer in the age range where I can take good health for granted.

It used to be that I could eat four meals a day and still lose weight. I could go to work, go to college, study late at night, and keep going for weeks and months. In college, I worked at a radio station doing a split shift. I'd sign on the air at 4:45 a.m., go to my classes, then do an afternoon news shift. After that, go home to my wife and study. Sleep deprived, I barely remember my senior year. But I graduated a skinny man.

Not so much anymore. However, I have found a wonderful physical activity that's also a delightful recreation - pickleball.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. It's like a shrunk-down version of tennis, or a stretched-out match of ping pong on a court. The way the rules work, serving doesn't require being an athlete. The whole setup is designed to produce lots of volleys and enormous fun.

Dr. Daniel Amen, the brain expert, says the best sport of all for seniors is table tennis. Based on his research, he said play would promote new brain cell connections. It's better for you than Sudoku or crossword puzzles. If it's true for ping pong, it must be even better for pickleball players. Me, I go for the exercise, the camaraderie, and to grow in humility. It can be a real character builder.

I've been playing pickleball three times a week for two hours at a stretch. I've met some amazing new friends as a result. One thing I like about pickleball is that it's a multi-generational sport. It's also a sport where men have no advantage whatsoever over women. Pickleball provides an equal opportunity to experience the agony of defeat or the exultation of a win. If you lose in one game, no problem. You'll be rotating into another game with a new partner and different pair of opponents in a few minutes.

As I sat between games and watched some matches, I saw four experienced men playing. The two men on the far court were age 63 and 33, totaling 93 years. The team on the near court were ages 71 and 73, totaling 144 years. The old guys won! I've seen mothers, daughters, and sons play. I saw one game where a father, daughter, and granddaughter played.

I've watched a couple of ladies who are newcomers, Lisa and Michelle. One is in her twenties and the other in her forties. Both are rapidly getting good. Me, I've been playing now about seven weeks. If you haven't tried it, go check it out. In our area, there are some indoor courts and several outdoor courts.

Of course, some young guns (flat-bellies) who occasionally join us on the court have the advantage of moving faster than us old geezers. But age and cunning can whip youth and speed any day. Just ask Jeff. He's the oldest and best, and the most helpful player for newcomers to meet since he's a good encourager and explainer.

-- Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 05/29/2019

Print Headline: Pickleball

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