Getting Duped about DUPR?

Ben Johns and Rob Nunnery are sponsored by DUPR

Authored by Gritty (with contributions by Slim):

Update: It has been pointed out there is now a disclaimer in the description of the podcast that Johns and Nunnery are Franklin and DUPR sponsored

Notice anything in the picture above? Oh, Ben Johns and Rob Nunnery are both DUPR athletes. Nice! You may have heard in their recent podcast that Rob Nunnery is moving to Austin, Texas. You did not hear during their podcast that Nunnery is going to work at Dreamland what you may not have known is that he is going to work at Dreamland, which is a new pickleball and entertainment venue just outside of Austin, Texas. Very cool!

DUPR stands for Dreamland Universal Pickleball Rating. It has been created as a competitor to the somewhat flawed UTPR by Steve Kuhn, who is the owner of the recently opened Dreamland. Johns and Nunnery gave their thoughts about the DUPR rating system in the opening of their second episode of the Freestyle Boys podcast that was released Monday morning.

Johns and Nunnery talked about all the pros of DUPR on their podcast and discussed how great it is to have a competitor out there to make the game better. Any flaws of DUPR were either easily dismissed as a non-issue (e.g. artificial boosting of a player’s rating ) or not mentioned at all (e.g. multiple ratings systems, paying for a subscription to DUPR).

The problem I have with the one-sided conversation is that Johns and Nunnery never disclosed in their podcast that they are Team DUPR. The reason DUPR pays these athletes is to provide legitimacy for their ratings, but when you are talking about something under the guise of growing the game, people should be made aware that you are being paid by said product. Most pickleball fans aren’t as crazy as us and would already know when listing to their podcast that the two are being paid by DUPR. It is very misleading of the Freestyle Boys, one of whom is the best player in pickleball, to sound as if they are giving unbiased thoughts about a brand new rating system that could have a major impact on the pickleball landscape.

On their first podcast, Nunnery and Johns talked about how much they liked the Franklin ball without giving a reminder that they are sponsored by Franklin (though the Podcast does say at the beginning upon further review that it is brought to you by Franklin, so maybe I just didn’t clue in). They were very quick to mention their Franklin sponsorship in episode 2 when talking about how much they liked the Franklin ball at the US Open and I expect that is likely because they were called out in the Pickleball Forum for this.

No one is going to fault Nunnery and Johns for pushing a product they are getting sponsored by, but in this new sport people should be made aware of what the motivations of players could be when promoting a product, especially one with such significant potential ramifications for the game overall. It seems pretty clear that by talking about their Franklin sponsorship but not their DUPR sponsorship they actively chose to avoid the elephant in the room about DUPR. How about let’s not mislead the public?

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