The public pickleball courts that are nearest to my home opened 3 months ago and we have a growing and friendly community of players that play on a regular basis. With the exception of some infrequent and minor vandalism to the courts, things are going pretty well on the courts. However, I do have one issue to raise with my fellow pickleball players.

In recent weeks, it has been common to find loud music playing at the pickleball court. Several players (I don’t know who they are) have been known to hook a speaker on to the court fence and play music aloud for everybody on the courts. I love music as much as anybody, but I can do without the music when I’m playing pickleball. Why does it bother me when someone plays loud music at the pickleball court? I’ll give you several reasons…

As you probably know, many pickleball players are seniors and many seniors do not hear as well as they did when they were younger. I want to hear the score when my opponents call it out from the opposite baseline, which is 44 feet away. This is difficult enough to do for seniors, and it is even more difficult during this COVID pandemic where we’re all wearing masks which muffle our speech. Also, I want to hear the ball hitting my opponent’s paddle so I can determine if they’ve hit their sweet spot or if they’ve hit the ball near the edge of their paddle. I want to hear my doubles partner’s calls for “yours”, “mine”, etc. Sounds are important to a pickleball player, and it isn’t helpful when someone is blasting music on the court and making it difficult for you to hear things that are part of the game.

When playing pickleball outdoors, I like to enjoy the fresh air and the casual conversation with my fellow players. Pickleball is a social activity, even when we’re practicing social distancing. The social aspect of the game is harmed when someone decides that we should listen to their choice of loud music instead of listening to each other.

Your taste in music is not universal. If you’re the person playing the music aloud at the court, you might consider that for every person that’s enjoying it there is another person that loathes it.

In this era where everything ends up on social media, it probably won’t surprise you to see pickleball players capturing their games on video so they can share them with their fellow players on YouTube. However, you might be surprised to learn that someone’s loud music on the court can ruin your ability to share your video. If copyrighted music ends up in the background of a video that you shoot during pickleball play, and you upload that video to YouTube, the inclusion of the copyrighted music may cause YouTube to disable your video. That happens when your video includes music that you don’t have permission to use.

I’ve been known to shoot video of my pickleball play, and here’s an example:

If someone had been blasting copyrighted music on the court when I shot that video then my video’s sound would have captured the music (against my wishes, of course). I would have had to remove all sound from that video and post it as a silent video in order to satisfy YouTube’s terms of service.

You might think that I’m just a grumpy old man that enjoys complaining, and you may be right. In my defense, I’d like to point out that this issue with loud music at pickleball courts is not new. One of the largest pickleball communities in the USA, Scottsdale, Arizona, wrestled with this problem and they now forbid all amplified sounds at their pickleball parks.

Come out and enjoy the sport of Pickleball at one of several drop-in locations throughout Scottsdale.  Courts are available on a first come, first served basis. No reservation is required. No amplified sound is permitted at these locations.

My point is that I’m not the first person to complain about music on the court. There were enough complaints about it in Scottsdale to get the music banned by the city. I’m hoping that won’t be necessary on my local court. I’d like to see the community of players decide to stop the loud music themselves, without being coerced to do so by the city authorities.

If you enjoy listening to music while playing pickleball, the courteous and considerate thing to do is to use earbuds so you can enjoy your music without forcing the rest of us to deal with it.