Report of Tyson McGuffin’s Failed Paddle Test Highlights Need for More Transparency
In a discussion about the paddle testing controversy with her co-host, Dylan Frazier, on the latest episode of her podcast, The Drop, Anna Bright casually dropped that Tyson McGuffin’s paddle that was challenged at the Red Rock event failed off-site testing (28:24 mark). It was made as an off-hand comment by Bright and said in such a relaxed way that, if you have not been following the paddle testing topic closely, you would think it was a meaningless comment. That may be the reason why there has been little to no traction on social media about the comment.
The comment itself is far from a throwaway, though. Sarah Ansboury and her partner, Jillian Braverman, were defaulted from the main draw on Saturday after Ansboury’s challenged paddle was determined to be illegal on-site. This meant that Ansboury and Braverman forfeited the prize money and ranking points they had earned. It seems like ages ago that the PPA instituted the policy that anyone playing with the new CRBN power series would have their paddle sent for off-site testing and, if the paddle tested illegal, the player would lose all ranking points and prize money they earned in the tournament.
Despite not publishing an updated written paddle testing policy for deflection/delamination/debonding, whatever they are calling it, the PPA made it clear to their players that a paddle determined to be illegal following a challenge results in a default, including loss of prize money and ranking points earned with the illegal paddle. They enforced this new policy on Sarah Ansboury and had no issue blasting the Ansboury default news across all of their media platforms. An example was made of Ansboury that if you risk it for the biscuit with your paddle, there may be serious consequences.
A cloud that can hang over the PPA is that there is an impression the tour gives preferential treatment to its star players. To a certain degree, this is understandable. In a burgeoning league that has been in the thick of tour wars, you want to keep your most important players happy. When there are other options out there, the PPA understands that the league needs the players more than the players need the league. In the player empowerment era of professional sports, pickleball is not an exception.
However, there must be a limit to preferential treatment. The limit cannot call into question the integrity of results on the court, or the integrity of the way issues like paddle testing are handled. It is unsettling following the paddle controversy at Red Rock how confident we were that the PPA would not publicly release the results of the challenged paddles for Salome Devidze, Tyson McGuffin or Christa Gecheva. It is an ongoing theme for the PPA that they are content to deal with matters behind closed doors that can, and should, be made public.
Even though Salome Devidze posted her own statement about her paddle that was challenged in Red Rock, there has been no statement made by the PPA about the results for any of the challenged paddles in Red Rock – Salome Devidze’s, Tyson McGuffin’s or Christa Gecheva’s. We asked a representative of the PPA whether the PPA is planning to issue a statement about the subject and we were told there is no “formal timeline” for when a statement may be released.
Obviously, Salome Devidze wanted the public to know her paddle did not fail off-site testing after Lea Jansen’s very public allegations and, people like us, not giving her the benefit of the doubt – Lea Jansen issued her own public statement too. At the same time, Devidze’s statement must have put the PPA in an awkward position. On Monday, we questioned in our Newport takeaways whether Tyson’s paddle had failed off-site testing because, if Tyson’s paddle had passed, we have to assume he would also want the public to know his paddle did not fail given Travis Rettenmaier’s very public concerns about the paddle he challenged.
One of Rettenmaier’s biggest issues with the off-site testing was that an after the fact penalty was no help to him in the moment. Tyson won the first game 14-12 and played a number of points with what now appears to be an illegal paddle before agreeing to retire the paddle during the quarter-final match against Travis. He proceeded to lose game 2 but still won game 3 over Travis with presumably a legal paddle.
It probably takes someone with as much “I don’t give a f—” in their personality as Rettenmaier to call out a star like McGuffin publicly. But what did Travis get out of it? Absolutely nothing, except maybe having to deal with some uncomfortable calls with the Selkirk head brass. Rettenmaier still lost his quarter-final match to McGuffin. He does not get any additional prize money. Except for Tyson’s half-hearted admission on his podcast that he eventually realized the paddle was hot, Travis has not even gotten the absolute confirmation that he was right.
The PPA wants to protect its stars. Although the right thing to do would be to release the testing results for all paddles that were challenged in Red Rock, it would mean the PPA would have to either void Tyson’s singles victory or explain in some round-about way why Tyson gets to avoid a default. By not releasing the results of Salome Devidze, Christa Gecheva or Tyson McGuffin’s challenged paddles, the PPA has created bigger questions that go beyond the issue of whether Tyson should be defaulted.
Let’s get this out there before we go any further. The PPA should be commended for instituting on-site paddle testing on the fly in a span of less than two weeks. Whether or not it was a response to public pressure building, that could not have been easy for the PPA to do, and they found a way to do it. It is good that there is on-site testing and penalties that can be enforced. It’s definitely better than the APP arbitrarily confiscating a paddle for sounding fishy.
However, the report of a failed test for Tyson’s paddle places a bigger spotlight on the troubling lack of transparency in the PPA’s paddle testing process. If the PPA is unwilling to publicly acknowledge that the challenged paddle of one of its biggest stars failed off-site testing, how can the players or fans trust that the new process is being enforced equally to all players? With little insight as to what exactly goes into the new on-site paddle testing, it is crucial that the everyone can trust the PPA to enforce the rules equally. Without greater transparency into the process, how can anyone be confident that, if a future challenge for a star player fails site testing, the PPA will enforce the rules it has implemented?
Tyson’s paddle reportedly failing on-site testing strengthens the theorists out there who have asked whether the PPA would have defaulted a player more well-known than Sarah Ansboury.
Interestingly, on the latest episode of the Tyson McGuffin Podcast released on Tuesday (that we assume was recorded prior to the release of The Drop), Tyson had no issue calling out Lea Jansen for her incorrect accusation about Devidze’s paddle legality in Red Rock, but he was silent in when it came to addressing the results of his challenged paddle. Maybe he felt that he had already addressed the challenged paddle in his previous podcast, but to completely ignore Travis’ now confirmed accusation while calling out someone for their incorrect accusation is beyond hypocritical.
Update (10:08 am EST, April 29th): Shortly after posting this article, a couple of people reached out to us that Tyson responded to a YouTube commenter asking about the failed paddle and Tyson says he was not penalized because he put the paddle down and used another one. See the screenshot:
The other aspect of the paddle testing policy that remains flawed is the self-policing the system requires. For there to be any penalties for using an illegal paddle, it is still incumbent on a player to challenge an opponent’s paddle after the match. At this point, it is actually insane that the PPA is requiring players to test their paddles before the quarterfinals, which will not result in any penalty if a paddle fails, but they are not mandating that paddles be tested after any matches. Why not just have mandatory testing after the quarterfinals for the winning teams and continue to allow players to test their paddles on their own accord outside of that?
Players don’t like challenging a player’s paddle, much less a star player’s paddle, primarily because of the stigma that accompanies a paddle challenge, namely being called a sore loser. This stigma can prevent the needed enforcement of the paddle testing policy that is there to ensure a level playing field, particularly when paddles can swing from legal to illegal over the course of a single match.
Anna Leigh Waters got flack for challenging Parris Todd’s paddle in San Clemente last year so it is understandable that players in a non-transparent system would be afraid to challenge the paddle of someone like Anna Leigh, whose personal paddle sounds quite different on the live stream than the Paddletek you’ll hear at your local park. Beyond the stigma, the perception of players is that the system is not fair and that’s a problem. They could be asking themselves, hypothetically, what would happen if Anna Leigh Waters was on the receiving end of their challenge and her paddle failed? Would she receive the same treatment as Sarah Ansboury?
We can only guess what the PPA’s reasoning is for only requiring testing before matches, but it is not farfetched to speculate that the PPA chooses to require testing in this manner because it minimizes risk that players will be subject to failed paddle testing penalties.
There is an easy solution to all of this that we continue to clamor for, and that is releasing the results of all paddle testing, both mandatory testing and challenges. It was a step in the right direction to get some clarity from the PPA on the Ansboury situation but the PPA only released their statement because they were getting skewered by the public following Ansboury’s omission in her statement that she was advised not to use her paddle in the quarterfinals.
Collin Johns shared the PPA’s Instagram post on the Ansboury situation with some additional commentary of his own (see above), writing that:
“Paddle testing is moving in the right direction and although forfeits are never wished for, the rules must be transparent and strictly enforced for all players and manufacturers. Until rules have a penalty system that is enforced, no change in behavior will occur.”
We have no idea if Collin Johns is indirectly calling anyone out, but we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. To elaborate on Collin’s sentiment, let’s get a publicly available written policy, ensure that the policy is strictly enforced across the board and share the results of testing for everyone to see. This call for action does not mean we think the PPA should share paddle testing results forever, but it should be done for a period of time until this paddle stuff is under control. With PPA Commissioner, Connor Pardoe, announcing that gambling is coming to the PPA sometime next month, there needs to be clear rules and rulings on paddles. There 100% needs to be as even a playing field as possible, and you can’t have the perception that paddle testing won’t be enforced against certain players if gambling is going to be implemented.
MLP has been the group pushing forward the paddle testing agenda but the PPA’s hand has been forced due to a confluence of events and increasing public pressure. Unfortunately, it feels as if the PPA will continue operating in this behind closed doors manner unless its hand is forced in some other way. However, until the PPA brings more transparency to its process, there will be questions as to how serious the organization is about strictly enforcing the rules and penalties for all its players.
But let’s not have those questions. Stop with the poker games and put all the cards on the table. It really isn’t that hard.
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40 thoughts on “Report of Tyson McGuffin’s Failed Paddle Test Highlights Need for More Transparency”
It is crazy that they test paddles before a match and there is ko consequence for a failed paddle you have been using all day up till then. Three strikes and you are out seems reasonable at the least. But what about the players who just lost to you? So we are cool with bad paddles till the quarters?
There is always a challenge available to players and maybe that can be maintained. But testing before instead of after doesn’t seem to make any sense
Agree. Mandatory paddle testing for all pro matches is needed. Some of the new eva foam paddles are hitting balls at extremely high speeds…Not sure if these paddles pass the threshold of legality in terms of power.
Usapa needs to test paddles more stringently and simulate real world conditions (eg: very cold temp or very high temp) and also test for durability (before delam happens)..So if you hit 400 overheads and then paddle delams or if paddle is kept for 300 hours in temp above 105F it delams, USAPA needs to do such rigorous testing before approving it for market…Not just test it a few times for deflection and if it passes, approving it.
Right now players are not winning…it’s their paddles that’s deciding who wins or loses. Shame on this so called pro sport
There is a lot going on right now and it is still not under control.
Spoken like true lawyers! Be careful NML…the PPA might just offer you a job.
We’re just two guys that are obsessed pickleball, Jackson!
This is business as usual for the PPA and always has been. I see zero motivation for them to change because doing so is harmful to their business and their brand. They have always operated with a one set of rules for our players and one set of rules for the rest. Or not enforcing their own rules when it isn’t good for them. They’re a bunch of snake oil salesman and if anyone thinks otherwise they haven’t been paying attention.
Whether it is actually harmful to their business and brand is not so clear. Being an open and transparent organization with rules that apply to all would seem to be a good way to build a brand and loyal fan base. What is good for them is an in the eye of the beholder question
There should be a clear and written rule and testing policy. There should also be an appeals function to contest challenges. If you can disqualify a player and remove their credentials for the tournament they should have the right to appeal.
It is the most basic of things to have for any policy within an organization. Imagine going to work for a company and they just give announcements about what a policy is without anything in writing
Sorry admin, but I think you were high when you wrote that. 😉 Many, if not most, companies are NOT transparent, and being transparent would only hurt them. Being transparent to build a brand of loyal fans only works when you are doing the right thing. Look at just about all sports, behind-the-scenes are never shown or discussed. And IMO, almost all loyal fans could care less about what happens behind the scenes (yes, some do :), they just want what they want, a good show, and I think the PPA knows this so they could care less about what’s right. 🙂 Okay, off to go play.
Depends on the company. A lot of companies can be good about it but sports overall is more transparent than this. They also have everything written and have appeal systems. There are problems in all sports like appeals going to the commissioner but there is a clear process outlined.
I think 15/20/30 years from now, Connor Pardoe will be looked at as the most dishonest, corrupt, and unethical manager in pickleball history. But I really think he will think that is great. I actually feel bad for his kids. As they will most likely turn out like him.
Transparency, players need to be unionized maybe then what’s good for one player will be for ALL.
Totally agree Linda. I’ve been saying this for a while now. It would solve many problems. But I don’t see it happening for at least four/five years. Even Casey Patterson of the MLP said this last year on Ben Johns’ podcast.
Will someone invent a personal delamination testing machine? Keep it in our bags? Or have a self-service machine at every tourney. Test your own paddle, get a read on how close it is to illegal, then take your risk. If you are tested and found to have played any points with an illegal paddle, you are out. Whoever you are. J
That would be great. Might be tough to do though haha
Thank you for your time and posting. The bottom line is nobody can trust the PPA (I know for a fact, many honest refs will not work for them). It is really too bad for this sport that the biggest tour group is dishonest, unethical, and just plain corrupt. Pardoe talks big but shows zero fairness to the players. PPA is only interested in what is best for its management.
Just maybe, do you think PPA started paddle testing so quickly so that they can keep the results hidden and can manipulate them? And on Tyson’s YouTube comment, what bogus BS.
Oh, I am pretty sure Lea Jansen enjoyed challenging Devidze’s paddle. 🙂
It is hard to trust right now what is going on and it has been a running theme for this. We think they started paddle testing so quickly because of public pressure and the issue with testing is that it can result in players you don’t want like Tyson being guilty. So they adjust on the fly and don’t make anything transparent.
So I play an entire match with an illegal paddle that I delaminated my self and then on match point switch to a brand new paddle. When my opponent challenges my paddle and the brand new one passes there is no consequences.
This would be something you would have to do very sneakily.
It’s too late for me to care. As soon as gambling is allowed, I am turning off the TV, computer, phone, etc. and going out to the courts and actually PLAY some PB.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the PPA was already manipulating the system for gambling, maybe one reason nothing on Tyson’s failed paddle.
I’m surprised by this line of thought. If anything, I expect sports betting to tighten up the PPA’s policies. You think they’d risk state or federal prosecution to keep a few pros (who might not even be relevant in a few years) happy?
It’s hard to know what they’ll do here because we never know what is going on.
No gambling for you Greg?
Nope. It has ruined sports. All people care about sports now is “point spread” and fantasy leagues. I go back 75 years watching sports. Mickey mantle was my idol at age 6. Slowly, over decades, it’s all gone to crap.
Pro Pickleball was the only “TV” I have watched in the last 2 years. Soon, that will go too, and I’ll have even more time for actually Living.
Re: Tyson not getting penalized
On one hand it makes sense that your punishment is different if you willingly retire your paddle instead of playing your whole match with it.
On the other, it’s completely ridiculous because it sounded like he didn’t make the change until after Rettenmaier had remarked on it and he played a full game with it. Also why even bother to let Travis challenge the paddle if the result didn’t matter and wouldn’t change anything?
Seems quite silly to me, but if anything, it further emphasizes how much of a baffling decision it was for Sarah Ansboury to play an entire match with her paddle after being warned by PPA officials. It already made no sense to do that, but now that we know that she likely could have retired it after the first game and faced no punishment, it looks like an even worse and incomprehensible decision to use it for the entire match, and then essentially try to blame the PPA in her statements after the fact. And then somehow there were people on Facebook groups posting that they somehow gained respect for her because of the situation lol. The direction the PPA is moving with testing is good but much more transparency is needed before the paddle situation turns into more of a farce than it already is.
Honestly, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to us if you give a different punishment because of retiring the paddle but if that’s the decision they made they can’t sweep it under the rug like they have. Explain yourselves. But they don’t do that and they get away with it, so they keep operating this way. We are also learning there may be more to this Ansboury situation than we realized and will continue to do some digging on this. Maybe have an update.
The PPA as tour promoters seem conflicted as they do not have the motivation to regulate the sport in a fair and transparent manner. To think that legalized gambling could take place on such an unprofessional (and possibly corrupt) regulated sport is mind boggling.
Hola Joe g. You’ve heard of Boxing, right?
CRBN Power models will be sent to a USA Pickleball lab site for additional testing. If a paddle comes back over any of the legal specifications, all points and at-risk prize money amassed at the event where the paddle was used will be forfeited.”
This is the PPA statement on Crbn paddles. Don Stanley is trying to confuse the issue on other posts by bringing up other items like the bracket moving on. It doesn’t matter if the paddle was tested on or off site or whether or not the bracket moved ahead. Tyson should have his win vacated and points removed. I would guess this would not affect his appearance fee so money most likely isn’t an issue. But ethics are. I would never gamble on a sport where the head ref repeatedly goes on social media and spews incorrect information and tries to hide the real issue.
This is 100% correct about what Don Stanley is doing on Facebook with his comments. Couldn’t agree with you more, Denise
It never seemed to me that Erin and Don were talking about the same thing. I’m not convinced that Don was doing it deliberately or trying to confuse the issue. I don’t think he understood that Erin and NML was talking about a different issue. Don has seen a ton more communication from PPA and thus was talking from what he knew — and assuming all had that information. Even though Don’s answer might not have been what was wanted, I thought the explanation was good for what he was addressing. The entire process has evolved from what was done at Austin, then Red Rock, then Newport Beach. And Don’s answer was assuming the evolution was obvious but without written policies or better announcements from PPA, it is hard to see. Very inconsistent of course and not well thought-out by PPA.
Quite possibly. It seemed he had not read our article, that’s for sure. Either way, it’s problematic that Don continues to carry the PPA’s water publicly and for whatever reason he doesn’t mind that they hang him out to dry while they remain silent on important issues.
We are way too far in the weeds on this subject. If a rule gets too nuanced and open to subjectivity, it is a bad rule.
Define the rules of a good paddle, mfgs need to make a paddle that will meet the rules for an extended period of play, test the paddles at tournaments for compliance, enforce the rules for everyone.
Also, anyone know where I can find up to date rankings? Not sure if PT is correct since they don’t list 2023 tourneys, and PPA sorting is a mess.
The problem is that creating an objective test is not that easy. The PPA claims they have a binary test but that does not check out given all the information out there about how hard paddle testing is, and what the PPL report says after the MLP Daytona testing.
Great comment, Denise!
Don Stanley is wearing public relations/propaganda/promotion hats. Maybe he gets paid more for each hat he puts on.
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