by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
Fox 5 DC News reports on the pickleball noise controversy. Pickleball, for those who haven’t heard of it, is not a new sport but it is one that is gaining rapidly in popularity. Among its draws are the fact that it can be played by almost anyone regardless of age or physical condition, Among the problems with pickleball is that pickleball courts are often installed on former tennis courts, bothering those who prefer to play tennis, and pickleballs are harder and create noise.
Pickleball noise is the problem the people in Vienna, Virginia are trying to deal with. One resident who lives near the courts suggests limiting play to three days a week. Those who like to play suggest a sound barrier.
There actually are effective sound absorbing barriers, including earthen berms, dense plantings, wooden fences, and fences made of special sound-absorbing material. I am not familiar with the success of any of these methods for reducing transmission of pickleball noise.
I hope the residents of Vienna, Virginia are able to control the noise or reach a compromise about pickleball court use. A recent report found that only a minority of Americans is getting sufficient exercise, and other reports have mentioned growing social isolation in the United States. Meeting people and having fun playing a game is one way of helping solve both problems.
Other than perhaps reading, human activity usually makes noise, especially if more than one person is involved. Noise is annoying. Annoyance is stressful, and stress is bad for health.
Finding the balance between competing rights–the right to quiet near one’s residence vs. the right of people to use a park, in this case–can be a difficult task. Let’s hope the folks in Vienna, Virginia can find the right balance.