This Might Be Nation's First Pickleball Felony

Retiree in Denver accused of defacing rec center floor with boundary markings
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2022 9:35 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2022 7:00 AM CDT
This Might Be Nation's First Pickleball Felony
The gear of pickleball.   (Getty/Glen Richard)

Pickleball is one of the hottest sports in the nation, and now comes what is probably the first alleged felony related to its play. Authorities in Denver have charged a 71-year-old retiree with defacing a rec center's floor to mark boundaries for the game, reports CBS Denver. As a result, Arslan Guney is accused of felony mischief and theoretically faces three years in prison. His attorney—and his supporters in the local pickleball community—say the charge is ridiculous. "In no way did he intend to damage the floor," says attorney Hollynd Hoskins. "This is not a crime. This is not criminal mischief."

Stories in the Washington Post and at the Denver Channel explain what happened: Guney—"he is what we call the mayor of pickleball," says a friend—and others play the sport at the Central Park Recreation Center on Mondays and Wednesdays. Workers there put down temporary yellow markers on the basketball court on those days to denote the pickleball boundaries, guided by black markings on the floor. Guney thought the markings were fading, so he grabbed a black Sharpie from the front desk and beefed them up, though in some cases he tweaked them. When workers later noticed what he did, parks officials decided to pursue charges.

"Defacing or damaging public property is unacceptable, a criminal offense, and will not be tolerated in any of our public buildings or spaces," says a spokesperson for the city's Parks & Rec system. The department estimates it will cost about $10,000 to refinish the floors, an amount Guney's supporters say is exaggerated. "He's willing to do anything, including any amount of community service, tutoring, mentoring at-risk kids in order to make amends and to be able to gain his membership back," says his attorney. "And obviously, he would like to stay out of jail." (More pickleball stories.)

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