It seems every day we see more news articles announcing, “Unknown sport experiences astonishing growth!” or, “Game nobody’s heard of makes headlines!” These pieces are referring to pickleball, but with the proliferation of such titles, is it really fair to continue treating the game like it’s so little-known?
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., a fact which was announced back in 2015. Perhaps it’s time people should stop being so shocked by pickleball’s existence, and instead players should be surprised when someone doesn’t recognize the sport.
Aside from the millions of players located in the U.S. alone, the game is becoming more commonly taught in schools, rec centers and even prisons. Celebrities such as Jillian Michaels, Kid Rock, the Kardashians and Tobey Macguire all enjoy playing. Even former tennis pros Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick have given pickleball a swing.
Gear can be found in several big-box stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart. CBS is broadcasting the US Open on TV. Many communities are (successfully) rallying for their local governments to create courts from scratch or turn unused tennis courts into pickleball parks.
With USAPA ambassadors and even casual players continuing to spread the word and bring the game to locations far and wide, maybe we’re getting closer to the day when people can say they play pickleball and the general population won’t have to wonder if they’re talking about a sport or a strange food.
After all, people recognize sports like archery, hockey, rugby, polo and billiards, but largely due to their storied histories rather than a proliferation of play. Many of those listed aren’t usually found in communities due to expensive equipment, large space requirements and high physical demands. Surely pickleball, with its approachable play and affordable gear, will only continue to rise in visibility.
Have you found that many people know about pickleball in your city? Do you feel like you get fewer confused responses these days when mentioning the sport? Let us know about your experiences, whether strangers were affirming or bewildered!