There is a new kid on the block that is challenging tennis for the title of most popular racket sport. You might not even have heard of it until right now. That sport is pickleball.

Next year marks the 50-year anniversary of its entry into the wide world of sports. There are now over four million players in the U.S., and that number is growing from 10% to 20% per year.

Why am I telling you this? My goal is to catch the attention of some of the movers and shakers of my hometown [Madison] to help them obtain a vision for the future. There is one tennis court remaining at the swimming pool. Since I played my high school and college tennis at that location, it is somewhat painful for me to make this suggestion. However, I think it would be in the best interests of the city and the residents if that court was converted into two pickleball courts.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that people are planning their vacations and even their relocations based on the availability of pickleball courts and players.

I understand that people can play indoors at The Community Center. However, outdoor courts would provide more availability and visibility.

I truly believe that in the future, pickleball will be included as an interscholastic sport. It started out as mostly a sport for senior citizens, but it is quickly grabbing the attention of the younger generations. Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre appear to be the only cities that have gotten the vision so far and provided outdoor courts.

Madison has a chance to become one of the pioneers in this situation, or it could wait until everyone else jumps on the bandwagon before acting. Just some food for thought.

Donald Parker

Crossville, Tenn., July 24