2022 Sports, Health and Wellness, Small/Medium Newsroom winner

A pickle(ball) in paradise


About the Project

Pickleball. It’s like the love child of badminton and tennis. It’s especially popular among those us of in need of exercise that doesn’t put quite so much stress on the knees. It’s the fastest growing sport in America.

Oh, and it’s loud. Annoyingly, insistently loud. The kind of loud that — if you live anywhere near a pickleball court, God help you — is going to drive you completely bonkers.

Welcome to the wonderful, off-kilter, yet bizarrely high-stakes universe of Matthew Stanmyre’s “A pickle(ball) in paradise,” a sports story unlike any you’ve ever read. A veteran sports reporter and previous Online News Association award finalist, Stanmyre learned about a brouhaha that had erupted in one of the wealthiest towns in America

One set of residents simply wanted to get its pickle on, especially during the isolation and tedium of lockdown. Another was furious about the endless plink-PLONK coming from the courts. No way this was going to end well.

Stanmyre spent more than two months reporting the story, hearing from all sides, digging deep into matters of decibels, noise tolerance and various pickleball court disputes around the country. Yet more than just a superb piece of writing and reporting, the project was conceived as a singular web experience — one that invites readers on an immersive and sonic journey.

“This is a story about sound. Turn yours on,” the story announces at the start. What follows is a feast for the ears and eyes, delightfully enhanced by audio and video recording at the courts, vibrant and colorful photography of the Ridgefield pickleball community, and witty and vivid illustrations (if you didn’t know how to play pickleball before, you will once you’re done with the story). Our designers and developers spent more than three months fusing all of the individual elements into a cohesive and wonderfully engaging package.

Judges Comments

Judges loved this piece because it was a delightful and meaningful sensorial experience that made great use of multimedia. It is a sports story, a pandemic story, a community story put together in a fun, compelling package.