I have been in this sport for about four years now. When I first came into the sport, whenever I referenced “pickleball,” I was met with a popular response… “What is pickleball?” Now, four years later, this question is less common as the sport has grown in popularity. In fact, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), there were 2.815 million pickleball players in the United States in 2017, compared to 4.2 million pickleball players in the United States in 2020 (to note, these are the latest numbers at the time of writing this), which is a 49.2% increase over that time period.
On the surface, pickleball grew, and continues to grow, because it is a fun sport. But, if you look just a little bit deeper—it doesn’t take much—you will see that pickleball is much more than a sport.
The stories of pickleball reaching far beyond the pickleball court are abundant:
- A dear member of our local pickleball community in Florida was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. The pickleball community showed up in support in a number of ways – from things as simple as messages on social media, to organizing a “welcome home” social-distanced parade of sorts at the height of the COVID pandemic, to helping raise over $75,000 to send this beloved member of our local pickleball community to Texas for a special cancer treatment. Pickleball united members of the community in ways that are more meaningful than an on-court score.
- We were recently sent a video on social media, where a young boy spent his summer with his grandparents. Most days during the summer, he seemed to play pickleball with his grandparents and the group of pickleball players that would join them. At the end of summer, this young boy’s birthday came, and he wanted to celebrate with his new pickleball friends. The video then flashed a room full of pickleball players laughing and having fun off the pickleball court to celebrate this young boy’s birthday. This video, which lasted no longer than 30 seconds, told a story that is so common amongst those already in the sport—that pickleball is about community, friendship, and belonging.
- We also recently discussed teenager Porter Barr in one of our pickleball newsletters. Fourteen-year-old Barr caused quite a stir with his spin serve, which lead him to serving out a “golden pickle” – in other words, winning 11-0-2 on the first serve. After discussing all of the “noise” created by his serve with his friends, Barr decided to put his “serve to a good cause” by hitting his serve to excited returners in the Idaho pickleball community in exchange for a donation to One More Day, a veteran suicide prevention organization. Barr hit about 300 serves and raised over $850 for the not-for-profit organization. Barr turned the sport of pickleball into an avenue that could have a greater impact than just himself.
- And, so many more stories like this every day…
It is stories like these that make the sport of pickleball truly special. For those of you in the pickleball community already, we are glad to share this wonderful sport and community with you. For those that have not already fallen in love with the sport of pickleball, grab a pickleball and paddle, and hit the courts. You may just understand and feel the many reasons behind our motto at Pickler:
Pickleball. More than a sport.™
Check out our new Pickleball. More than a sport.™ collection – 10% of all profits go toward non-profit organizations that support the growth of pickleball.