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PPA Orange County Cup Hot Mic Controversy: A Closer Look

PPA Orange County Cup Hot Mic Controversy: In the world of pickleball, where the sport’s rapid growth has brought it into the limelight, controversies can quickly gain attention. This past weekend at the PPA Orange County Cup presented by Fitvine Wine, a hot mic incident involving professional player Todd Fought sparked a significant conversation across social media and podcasts. Here, we break down the events and responses surrounding this controversy.

The Hot Mic Incident

The saga began on Wednesday, June 26th, when Todd Fought was overheard on a hot mic discussing his practice of storing paddles in his hotel room refrigerator. His intention, as he casually mentioned, was to help his paddles pass the difficult testing they undergo at professional tournaments. This revelation ignited a flurry of reactions online, with one social media user calling for the PPA and the United Pickleball Association (UPA) to address cheating in the sport.

Responses and Clarifications

The situation gained further more attention  on Saturday, June 29th, as multiple responses emerged, though the exact timeline is unclear due to the nature of Instagram posts.

Jason Aspes’ Response

Jason Aspes, President of the UPA-A, responded to an Instagram post by Dinksmashmedia, providing detailed insights into the complexities of paddle testing. Aspes pointed that the UPA has been using independent testing by the Pickleball Paddle Lab (PPL) for all PPA and Major League Pickleball (MLP) events to account for the many variables that can affect paddle performance. He acknowledged the imperfections in current testing methods and announced plans to move towards a UPA certification program that includes destructive testing of paddles over time and in different temperatures to ensure consistent performance.

“This is precisely why UPA has been using the independent testing PPL for all PPA and MLP events. There are way too many variables for paddles to change and perform differently from when they were certified by USAP.”-(aspes)


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Aspes also defended Fought, noting that there is no rule against climate-controlling paddles and that manufacturers are aware of temperature effects on paddle performance. The PPL testers wait until paddles reach room temperature before testing, declaring any advantage gained from cooling paddles. This clarification highlighted the understanding of equipment standards within the professional pickleball community.

Todd Fought’s Response

Fought himself responded on Instagram, confirming his practice of refrigerating paddles and explaining his reasons. He detailed his experiences with paddle testing, pointing out that temperature variation significantly affects test results. Fought asserted that he had not broken any rules or acted immorally, and pointed that his actions were in response to the challenging testing conditions at high temperatures.

“I have played most of the PPA events in the last 2 years(30ish events), using the same PPL test, I have had paddles fail at only 3 events, PPA Texas, MLP DC, and PPA SC, all of which the temp was above 90 degrees, this is the first event I have tried storing my paddles in a cool place as the forecast was for very hot weather “-(TODD)

Podcast Discussions

By Tuesday, July 2nd, the controversy had been discussed on two podcasts. “The King Of The Court” Podcast addressed the hot mic incident for about two minutes, while “The Pickleball Effect” Podcast, featuring Jordan Briones and Kyle from Dinksmashmedia, also delved into the topic. These discussions further increased the debate within the pickleball community.

Clearing the Air

In conclusion, the hot mic incident involving Todd Fought disclosed the complexities of paddle testing in professional pickleball. While Fought was initially called out for reportedly cheating, the responses from Jason Aspes and Fought himself provided clarity and context. The UPA-A’s stance and the absence of a rule against cooling paddles ultimately cleared Fought of any wrongdoing.

This incident shows the ongoing challenges in maintaining fair and consistent equipment standards in a rapidly evolving sport. As the pickleball community continues to grow, addressing these issues with transparency and thoroughness will be crucial in ensuring the integrity of the game.

News in Brief: PPA Orange County Cup Hot Mic Controversy

At the PPA Orange County Cup, a hot mic caught Todd Fought discussing storing paddles in his hotel refrigerator to pass tournament tests, sparking controversy. Jason Aspes of the UPA clarified that no rules prohibit climate-controlling paddles, explaining that independent testing accounts for temperature effects. Fought confirmed his actions, emphasizing the impact of temperature on paddle performance and asserting no wrongdoing. The incident, discussed on several podcasts, highlighted the complexities of paddle testing in professional pickleball. Ultimately, the controversy showed the need for transparent and consistent equipment standards as the sport grows, ensuring fair play and maintaining the game’s integrity.

ALSO READ: Exciting Conclusions at 2024 Orange County Cup in California



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