Popularity of recreational sports surges

It was refreshing to see several pickleball players congregating in Kalawai Park in Kalaheo Saturday afternoon.

Let’s face the inevitable. We are still in the middle of a pandemic.

Because we live in unique circumstances, there is no indication of how long the Kaua‘i County restrictions will remain in place even though they have been eased.

It is a welcoming sight to see the Kalawai pickleball courts packed with enthusiastic and skilled participants.

Pickleball is no longer a senior citizen’s game. It is a sport everyone has come to enjoy, and the growing size of tournaments everywhere in America proves it.

Enjoy the eased restrictions while they last, because the snapshot into the pre-COVID-19 era may very well be fleeting.

Since the county relaxed its restrictions, I’ve traveled throughout the island of Kaua‘i, talking to competitors in various sports: baseball, pickleball, softball, golf and disc golf.

All of these sports’ therapeutic values can’t be measured, and every player interviewed, regardless of the game, echoed that sentiment.

Judging by the condition of the public courts and fields on Kaua‘i, the county thoroughly understands the value.

Each participant interviewed had a different motivation.

Whether it was recent Kapa‘a baseball standout Noa Cardinez working out at Ron Martin Field at Kapa‘a High to prepare for the Major League draft, or Warriors’ golf sensation Niki Upson working towards a scholarship, all players possessed one commonality: intrinsic motivation.

Part-time resident George Blogg, the northern Illinois resident who typically only resides on Kaua‘i from January to April, choose to extend his stay on the island to shield himself from the catastrophe happening at his mainland home.

Blogg’s choice as a coping mechanism — golf.

Blogg used his extended stay by making Kukuiolono Golf Course his sanctuary, and that is how Walter McBryde, who gave the course as a gift to the people of Kaua‘i in the 1920s, would have wanted it.

Princeville Makai golfer Don Cunningham is fueled by the same passion as Blogg.

The several disc golf parks and tournaments organized by Kaua‘i Disc Golf founder Phil Worwa are his passions. Larry LaSota organized a tournament with his Kaua‘i Disc Golf ‘Ohana.

The Kaua‘i Senior Softball League has shown determination by working on concluding its season.

Whatever your favorite sport or sports of choice, it appears that recreational sports will mke a comeback on the back edge of this pandemic.

The spectator sport may become a more socially-distant memory as top-tier players in significant games become increasingly more unrelatable with their gargantuan contractual agreements.

No longer are sports going to be observed as much as they are played.

As we play them, let’s remember as we get entangled in the inevitable web of recreational-sports politics, why we play in the first place — to have fun.


Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

  1. KauaiSkater June 1, 2020 8:41 am Reply

    No mention of skateboarding… Just imagine if Kauai had a real skatepark or the DOT didn’t destroy the salt pond skateboarding area built by the kids from that area. Skateboarding is under appreciated on Kauai.

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