My Predictions for 2021 (12% Chance of Being 100% Right)

Everyone makes predictions though most people don’t document or publish them. People make predictions as to if and when it will rain, when the mail will arrive, whether the driver with the right turn signal on will actually make a right turn etc. One bases their lifestyle on spending based on their prediction of how the economy will do and the security of their job.

Many of my predictions are contingent on our progress or lack of regarding the Covid pandemic. Most “experts” are predicting that things will normalize by late Spring or early Summer. They are counting on most people getting the vaccine and a herd immunity taking place. I am not that confident given how so called experts whether they are doctors, scientists, Fox News hosts, U.S. Presidents and epidemiologists have not been very accurate in their projections and timetables so far.

I’ve polished my crystal ball and here are my 2021 predictions: 

photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas
  1. The vaccination rollout will be slower than projected and many (maybe most) adults will not get the vaccination. In addition, I think we are in for more unpleasant surprises and strains with the virus. I think that the rate of infections and deaths will drastically decrease by the beginning of summer 2021 but that another 600,000-700,000 American lives will be lost by the end of 2021 bringing the Covid death total in the United States to over 1 million.
  2. Next huge medical challenge is addressing patients experiencing long term effects from Covid infection affecting their quality of life. 
  3. People will still be reluctant to travel. Cruise line industries will resume voyages in fits and starts beginning mid summer 2021. Hotels and tourist destinations may regain 50-60% of anticipated traffic in summer 2021.
  4. Republicans will win Senate seats in Georgia even if they have to contest it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another two years of legislative gridlock guaranteed!
  5. The stock market has factored in a full or almost full recovery from Covid. Expect some bumps along the way! What if the vaccine does not deliver the expected immunity or the number of adults getting the vaccination falls below 50%? Will people who got the vaccine go into stores, restaurants or other public places with those who refuse to get vaccinated? Hoping for a 5-7% increase in the S&P by year’s end but will not be surprised if it dives by those percentages.
  6. Expect some unusual drama or disturbances around January 20, Joe Biden’s inauguration.
  7. Contingent if Joe Biden is sworn in, expect that his three main priorities are organizing the fight against Covid relying heavily on Dr. Fauci and scientists; rebuilding alliances with our friends in Canada, France, Mexico and Germany; and providing additional aid and stimulus to small businesses and individuals suffering from the pandemic.
  8. No tax increases for anyone this year.
  9. A plethora of books, documentaries, articles and speeches will begin about the Trump presidency. Many Trump appointees, spokespeople and supporters will try to distance themselves from Trump to save their own reputations, careers and credibility. Their efforts at redemption will largely fail.
  10. Kansas City Chiefs will win Super Bowl again.
  11. Gonzaga is the best NCAA Men’s basketball team as I write. However they won’t win the NCAA title. Expect an “underdog” with 7-8 losses to come in and surprise.
  12. Expect limited seatings (30-50% capacity) for sporting and other entertainment events starting in Spring 2021.
  13. Eagles won’t trade Carson Wentz. Wentz will start for the Eagles in the 2021-22 season.
  14. Expect a fourth or fifth place seed for the 76ers in the NBA Eastern Division playoffs. If Kevin Durant stays healthy, it will be the Nets vs. The Lakers in the Finals.
  15. Crystal ball looks to a good playoff run by the Flyers; a dismal season for the Phillies.
  16. There will be more credible sightings and documentation of UFOs.
  17. Pickleball will continue to rise in popularity as more 30-40 year olds play. The drop serve rule will be permanent as it creates more drama (and aces) around the serve and return. 
  18. Pickleball singles will increase in popularity and singles matches will be showcased on telecasts and streaming services. Tyson McGuffin vs. Ben Johns is to pickleball singles what Borg-McEnroe was to tennis. South Jersey player Frank Anthony Davis is very competitive.
  19. The effects of quarantining schools and students due to Covid will be felt for decades. How many careers for scientists, entrepreneurs and researchers were lost due to the interruptions in education?

Is Playing Pickleball Safe Now?

Is playing Pickleball less safe now than it was in the summer? Given the change in weather and new wave of Covid 19 infections, what should we be doing to ensure safe and healthy play?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, epidemiologist, scientist, government official, CDC employee or pandemic expert. The conclusions and opinions are mine based on limited information, data and just a few hours of thought and analysis. Like many other topics today, there is a lot of misinformation and this post is my personal effort to sort out my alternatives and plan of action.

Overview: There are approximately 2,300 members in the South Jersey Pickleball Group. Recently there were a few members that tested positive for coronavirus. These members had recently played at various pickleball venues and obviously this created some concerns within the pickleball community. While there have been reported incidents of coronavirus infections nationwide spreading at indoor pickleball facilities, there appears to be few, if any infection outbreaks of coronavirus from playing outdoors. 

The infection rates within the State of New Jersey and specifically Camden County have risen dramatically the past few weeks. In Camden County, more than 15,000 cases of infection have been reported since the start of the pandemic. This represents about 3% of the Camden County population. Gloucester County has approximately 7,200 cases, representing about 2.5% of their population.

If we use 3% as the mean, as many as 70 South Jersey Pickleball members could be projected to have already caught the coronavirus. So no one should be surprised in a group as large as ours, there may be some reported cases. (As an offset, most members of the South Jersey Pickleball group are obviously very health conscious and many are retired so they are not exposed to potential workplace initiated infections.)

Risk Management Considerations:

Many in our pickleball community are in a high risk age group (65+) related to complications from Coronavirus. Younger players generally have less to fear if infected but they still need to exert vigilance and prevention for themselves and when playing with or around older players. Older players too must be diligent when playing with or around younger players.

Exposure to many players. If you play golf or tennis, generally you play with three other people for the morning or session. Some Pickleball Meetups had 50 or more people signed up so this meant in a two or three hour period, you could be partnered or playing with 12-20 different people depending on the available players at your skill level. (See chart). If you play 3 or more times a week, you can be playing with 40 or more different people creating added potential exposure or risk.

Exposure to players who are visiting or returning from vacations from “hot infection” states. Pickleball players (usually) are a very friendly group. We don’t check IDs on the court. Hence we don’t quarantine players from Florida, South Carolina etc playing on South Jersey or local courts. Regrettably as I write, just about every state is a “hot infection” state.

Exposure to different pickleballs. There are those balls you play with each game and those balls you toss back to another court when their ball rolls on your court.

Recommendations:

These measures appear to be prudent given the colder weather and the rising rates of Coronavirus infections nationwide and within the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. Hopefully by Spring 2021, vaccines will have begun to be distributed and pickleballers can return to an almost normalized routine.

Play within small groups of players (4-8) to minimize exposure. Various groups are organizing and using the TeamReach app to schedule events. If, by chance, a player displays symptoms or tests positive, TeamReach can serve as a communication and tracking tool.

Ideally one should play with those who are responsible and considerate of the health and safety of other players. These also should be people who you can have fun and be social with.

Players who play exclusively outside may be safer to play with than players who have recently or are playing indoors.

If you are an older player, it may be safer to play with people within your own age group. Most younger players have families and children and are much less likely to be able to isolate due to career and family responsibilities.

Playing outdoors appears to be more safer (not foolproof) than playing indoors. If you are deciding to play indoors, make sure that the facility and employees are practicing the same due diligence and health risk mitigating efforts as you are.

Maintain social distancing and wear a mask while resting or waiting to play again. (I don’t think I have seen those precautions taken at all at any of the venues I have played. I think all of us were lulled by the great weather.)

Don’t handle someone else’s paddles. (This generally happens when moving paddles along a fence or queue to create space.)

If you are feeling sick or have a fever, don’t play!! (whether it’s outdoors or indoors). This is not the best time to try to play through an illness.

From Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (Hill Street Blues), one last piece of advice “Let’s be careful out there!”

Third Shot Jots

Check out recent YouTube video where Ben Johns and Simone Jardin play Dekel Bar and Adam Stone. Great example of how men and women can compete effectively in mixed doubles, as a partnership. Johns and Jardin play to their strengths. Their movement and strategy were like a dance. Sorry for the dated reference, but think of the balance between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Johns and Jardin beat two top flight pickleball players. Jardin is the best women’s player in pickleball right now.

***

I watch a lot of pickleball tournaments and events on social media and YouTube. In all the events I have watched, I don’t recall seeing a player cited for an illegal serve. Maybe the pros and advanced players are that good that they do not violate the rules on serving. But even Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been called on foot faults at times. Seems to me that many of the fast servers in the men’s game come very close to a sidearm motion when they serve.

***

One of the hardest disciplines (maybe the hardest) is the ability to not swing at “out” balls. At the advanced and pro levels, players rarely give up free points if a ball is going out. 

***

Growing concern about the availability of indoor pickleball when the weather changes in late fall and winter. Given the current health circumstances, I don’t envision government (particularly in NJ)) allowing indoor pickleball facilities to open and if they do, may impose restrictions on how many people can be in the facility.  Facilities may also have to be concerned with any liabilities if COVID 19 infections occur among players. They will also need to be more vigilant about cleaning benches and equipment as well as replacing pickleballs between sessions. Players would need to be more cognizant of social distancing as that becomes a premium when moving from outside to inside to play.

***

Just my observation…There is a fine line between offering advice and sounding critical while playing a game, especially when teaming with beginners. I think that beginning players need to hear encouragement first and know what they are doing right. I have seen beginning players inundated with tips and criticisms while they are in the midst of a game. They start to overthink what they are doing and they don’t respond naturally to playing. Better to offer most suggestions to a player after a game, not during it and only when they request help.

***

I’d like to see all pickleball games go to 15 points, instead of the customary 11, especially in recreation play…

***

The commercialization of pickleball is increasing, as it should, given the popularity of the sport and the discretionary income of many of its players. There is a new paddle from Selkirk (Vanguard) that costs $200. More companies are selling pickleball paddles, clothing and shoes. There are increasing opportunities to promote seminars and training sessions. More towns are building pickleball courts (some at the dismay of tennis players). Hopefully pickleball will receive more media coverage from the sports networks and given the current lack of live sports, this might be the best opportunity to showcase the sport.

***

A good friend of mine had the pleasure of watching Frank Anthony Davis at Atkinson Park recently. He was blown away at the level of game FAD displayed but he was also impressed how approachable FAD was to talk with spectators. It seems that way with just about all high level performance men and women pickleball players and that will help promote the sport. I have seen FAD playing singles and doubles on YouTube videos – – very happy that he is representing the South Jersey area.

***

Covid 19 has impacted my participation in pickleball this summer. I don’t play as much and when I play, it is with smaller groups. That being said, I do miss many friends I have played with from DeCou, Hainesport and Marlton over the years. For me, I play pickleball 75% for the social aspect, 25% for the competitive aspect. Hopefully things will turn around in the next few months and life and pickleball can return to normal, or close to it.

Stay safe!!

Eric Vill jpg

 

 

Clearing My Mental Cache

Items that may amuse, entertain, inform and inflame you…

Pickleball challenge

***

The experience of finding an open court to play pickleball in the next few weeks may be similar to trying to find a dinner reservation on Mother’s Day. One might expect long lines, unexpected delays and the need to acquire a lot of patience.

***

Just a thought: For pickleball to become more mainstream and garner national attention,  it needs a “bad boy” like Nick Kyrgios or John McEnroe to compete against Tyson McGuffin, Ben Johns etc. of the pickleball elite.

***

While I agree that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, I don’t think he would beat Lebron James in a one on one game if both were in their primes.

***

Book recommendation: Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. An excellent compliment to the recent ESPN documentary The Last Dance.

***

As an aside, I am old enough to remember seeing him play and I choose Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns as the greatest football player of my lifetime.

***

I would not miss baseball if they did not play in 2020. I would miss college and pro football as well as pro basketball if they did not play in 2020. I am also under the opinion that the NBA should not bother resuming the 2019-2020 season’s games. Wait till November and start the new season.

***

Old Paradigm (before coronavirus) “Hi neighbor, can I borrow a cup of sugar?

New Paradigm: “Hi neighbor, (through mask) can I borrow a roll of toilet paper?”

***

Five Biggest Lies of the Pandemic

  1. “We all in this together.” (slogan used by just about every company in their ads since March.)
  2. “I don’t take responsibility at all.” (Donald Trump-3/13/20)
  3. The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…(Donald Trump 2-24-20)
  4. It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Donald Trump 2-28-20)
  5. The virus is not going to sink the American economy,”. “What is or could sink the American economy is the socialism coming from our friends on the other side of the aisle. That’s the biggest fear that I have today.” (Larry Kudlow Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28)

***

Just an observation but I wish Congress and the President exhibited the same energy, resources and urgency for small businesses and employees that the Federal Reserve did in supporting Wall Street, large corporations, CEOs and wealthy stockholders.

***

Fox News just published their poll of suburban women. 33% of those women polled had a favorable view of President Trump; 66% had an unfavorable view. What is more surprising? (A) Fox News posted the results of their anti Trump poll? Or. (B) There are still 33% of suburban women with a favorable view of Trump?

***

Though children are not able to attend schools in person, they are receiving a far greater and more impactful education in human nature, mortality, sacrifice and compassion.