Sue’s List #20
Get ready for a journey through the thrilling world of paddle-swinging action, soccer ball wizardry, and the fascinating realm of hyperrealistic humanoid companions. Sue's List is your go-to source for all the witty, informative, and entertaining updates on these amazing topics. Enjoy!
The Pickleball Revolution
In the past few years, the popularity of pickleball has surged, and the number of public courts in the 100 largest U.S. cities has increased sixfold, jumping from a mere 420 to an impressive 2,788. Despite this exponential growth, municipal leaders find themselves unable to keep up with the high demand from avid pickleball players, often referred to as "pickleheads."
According to the Trust for Public Land, there is now approximately one pickleball court for every 24,000 residents in these cities. This trend has brought about a love/hate relationship between cities and pickleball. The sport is a hit among players who are transitioning from tennis or are drawn to its unique vibe. However, it has also sparked complaints from displaced tennis players who feel the sting of losing their traditional tennis turf to pickleball courts.
Cities are scrambling to address the demand and resorting to various methods to fund new court construction. Some have tapped into COVID-19 relief funds, municipal bonds, or public-private partnerships to raise the necessary funds. Interestingly, even in cold-weather cities, dedicated pickleball courts are being built or tennis courts are being converted for dual use, reflecting the widespread enthusiasm for the sport.
Among the top pickleball cities, Seattle takes the lead, likely due to its close proximity to Bainbridge Island, where the sport was invented back in 1965. Lincoln, Nebraska, surprisingly ranks third on the list, which the city's parks and recreation facilities manager attributes to the dedication of local snowbirds who caught the pickleball fever in places like Phoenix and successfully lobbied for court construction in their hometown.
The top ten pickleball cities also include warm-weather destinations such as St. Petersburg, Florida (second place); Honolulu, Hawaii (fourth place); and Plano, Texas (seventh place). However, cities like Madison, Wisconsin (fifth place); Omaha, Nebraska (eighth place); Boise, Idaho (ninth place); and St. Louis, Missouri (tenth place) showcase the sport's popularity even in regions with colder climates. Notably, no cities in the Northeast or California made it into the top 20, with Washington, D.C., ranked at 23rd and Riverside, California, at 29th.
Will Klein, associate director of parks research at the Trust for Public Land, highlights that cities with well-established park systems tend to have a greater number of pickleball courts. These cities are also considered among the healthiest places to live, with positive indicators for mental health and physical activity.
Despite the increasing popularity of pickleball, there remains a critical shortage of courts. With approximately 23 million tennis players and 9 million pickleball players in the United States, there should be approximately 37 pickleball courts for every 100 tennis courts. However, there are only about 44,000 pickleball courts compared to 250,000 tennis courts.
Cities are exploring different funding approaches, with some controversially using COVID-19 relief funds to construct pickleball courts, while others rely on bonds or public-private partnerships. Remarkable municipal projects include a 30-court facility in Wichita, Kansas; 24 courts in Evansville, Indiana; 49 courts in Daytona, Florida; and 22 courts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Interestingly, most pickleball courts are privately owned and developed. They have become a sought-after amenity in upscale residential developments and resorts. Abandoned shopping malls and former Bed Bath & Beyond stores have even been repurposed into pickleball courts. However, Carl Schmits of USA Pickleball cautions against overbuilding and advocates for a cautious approach to court construction.
Looking ahead, padel, a racket sport from Mexico with a different court configuration than tennis and pickleball, is gaining traction in the United States. Although there are currently only about 200 padel courts in the country, primarily in private residences, the sport has attracted significant investment, and the pace of court construction is accelerating.
In the world of racket sports, pickleball is clearly leading the charge, captivating players across the nation and driving cities to embrace this thriving sport.
Introducing Abel: The Robot Companion with a Human Touch
In a world where technology continues to push boundaries, meet Abel, the hyperrealistic humanoid robot designed to bridge the gap between humans and machines. Created as a joint effort between the University of Pisa and the London-based Biomimic Studio, Abel is set to revolutionize the way we understand and interact with artificial intelligence.
With his appearance modeled after that of a 12-year-old boy, Abel possesses an uncanny ability to read human emotions, making him an ideal companion for individuals with conditions such as autism or Alzheimer's. But how does he do it? Well, the University of Pisa explains that Abel's head houses a remarkable array of 21 motors that control his facial expressions and movements.
Four motors for the brow, eight for the eyes, one for the jaw, and eight more for the intricate movement of Abel's mouth, lips, and cheeks. Additionally, five motors enable him to move his neck and head with lifelike precision. These mechatronics provide Abel with the means to express a wide spectrum of emotions through his facial expressions and body gestures.
Abel's capabilities extend far beyond his physical appearance. He has the potential to contribute significantly to the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and sociology. By serving as a testing ground for theories in these areas, Abel may aid in the therapy and diagnosis of mental illnesses, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and dementia. The University of Pisa envisions a future where Abel's interactions with humans can shed new light on these complex conditions.
Of course, behind Abel's enchanting facade lies a vast network of algorithms and data processing systems that make his interactions possible. Yet, there is something inherently magical about a humanoid robot designed to understand and connect with our emotions. Abel represents the pinnacle of innovation and human ingenuity, demonstrating that even within the realm of artificial intelligence, there is room for empathy and understanding.
So, keep an eye out for Abel as he embarks on his journey to transform the lives of those who need it most. With his hyperrealistic appearance and ability to read emotions, he's poised to redefine the boundaries of human-robot interaction. In a world where connections matter more than ever, Abel is a shining example of how technology can lend a helping hand and touch our hearts along the way.
Goal! Apple's Grand Slam in the World of Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) has been kicking it on the field for a quarter century, but now it's ready to step into the red-hot media race for U.S. professional sports rights. And who's leading the charge? None other than Apple, the tech giant that's putting its money and content strategy on the line to score big in the world's most popular sport.
Apple's ambitions extend far beyond last year's game-changing 10-year, $2.5 billion rights deal to stream MLS games on Apple TV+. They're going all-in, folks. In fact, they've secured the attention of soccer fans worldwide by getting right in the middle of yesterday's jaw-dropping news: Lionel Messi, the legendary footballer, intends to ditch Europe and lace up his boots for MLS club Inter Miami. Apple knows how to make an entrance, huh?
But wait, there's more! Apple has cooked up a creative plan to capitalize on their soccer investment. Reports suggest that they'll pay Messi a slice of the revenue generated from new subscriptions to their MLS Season Pass, on top of his team salary and a profit-share arrangement with league partner Adidas. It's like they're saying, "Messi, welcome to MLS, and here's a little something extra for your troubles!"
Not stopping there, Apple recently announced a four-part documentary series on Messi for Apple TV+. They're aiming to capture the same ratings magic that a similar docu-series from Netflix achieved for FS1, another sport with a dedicated, albeit niche, following in the U.S. They're leaving no stone unturned in their quest for soccer domination.
Eddy Cue, an Apple executive, expressed his pride and excitement about the MLS Season Pass subscription numbers, but he couldn't help but tease that the best is yet to come. And with Apple's deep pockets and innovative approach, who can doubt them?
So, get ready for a whole new ballgame, folks. Apple is stepping onto the field, dribbling their way through the media landscape, and aiming to make a significant impact on domestic soccer. They're betting that the beautiful game can capture the hearts and minds of fans across the United States. With Messi in their corner and a lineup of exciting content, Apple is poised to take a shot and score a major goal in the world of soccer.
For small peeps
Summer kicks at Packer Soccer Camps
Get ready for a summer of kicks, laughter, and pure fun as Packer Soccer Camps celebrates its 45th Summer of "kick's for the fun of it!" They have lined up two fantastic weeks of camp from June 19th to 23rd and June 26th to 30th, 2023, where kids aged 3 to 14 can join in on the excitement.
Camp hours and fees are designed to suit everyone's needs. For ages 5 to 14, the camp runs from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at a cost of $295 per week. And for our littlest soccer enthusiasts aged 3 and 4, they have a special program from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, priced at $150.00 per week. Don't miss out on these fantastic opportunities!
As a token of our appreciation, all campers will receive a cool camp T-shirt or a jersey for the older players aged 12 to 14. But that's not all! Each camper will also receive their very own soccer ball to practice their skills even after camp ends. And wait, there's more! They have got World Cup Competitions, exciting contests, fabulous prizes, and a whole lot of surprises in store.
Hurry and secure your spot today because spaces are limited, especially for ages 3 & 4 and 12-14. Join Packer Soccer Camps for an unforgettable summer where the joy of soccer takes center stage. Kick it into high gear and make memories that will last a lifetime!
Thanks for reading the entire list.
See you next Tuesday-