Mexico: The Pickleball Invasion!
As I was scanning the news headlines online, what caught my eyes was an interesting headline on The Washington Post about Americans moving to Mexico. The move on its own was not surprising; after all the story of Americans is the story of migration in search of a better life (however you define it) and more opportunities. What was unique about this story, was the fact that people are migrating away from the US, and there was an emphasis on Pickleball as the yardstick to measure the size of this migration!
I love tennis, or any activity involving a racquet and a ball; and recently, in addition to Liveball, Pickleball is the variation on tennis that is attracting many players to the game.
According to the Washington Post, San Miguel De Allende, in Mexico’s central highlands, has recently been invaded by Pickleball! This colonial city, with many mansions dating from the 18th century, has become a destination for many American immigrants, who have come with their racquets and tennis shoes!
What had just started with a few American retirees, is now occupying the courts at the municipal sports center most mornings, where “two dozen players are swinging paddles at plastic balls.” This new sport has taken over so many clubs in Mexico that a tournament was held at San Miguel last year.
“It was a madhouse,” said Victor Guzmán, one of the organizers.
The US media regularly covers the challenges of dealing with migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States. But we do not hear about those heading in the opposite direction.
Mexico’s official numbers put the U.S.-born population in the country at 799,000; the unofficial one is closer to 1.5 million! A mixed group of individual from different professions, age and ethnic groups. They include techies, working online, to retirees making their dollars go further.
One such retiree is Guzmán, a 67-year-old entrepreneur from Charlotte and the pickleball king of San Miguel! He moved to the city five years ago and is the one to challenge as the champion pickleballer!
Unlike the current attitudes towards immigration in the US, Mexico welcomes the Americans immigrants, who are investing in the local economies.
San Miguel’s Mayor Luis Alberto Villareal, who apparently “delivers his annual State of the Municipality address in English and Spanish,” welcomes Americans to his city. He sees them as “people who come to work and help the economy of the city — like Mexicans do in the United States.”
Now, the United States is the land of the immigrants. The country was built on a tradition of welcoming the newcomers and integrating them into the society. Mexico, however, lacks such a tradition. Less than 1 percent of Mexicans were born outside the county; so this influx of immigrants has created a challenge a dilemma.
“How do you integrate Americans?” And how to organize more pickleball events!!