A testament to the growing popularity of pickleball popped up recently from an unusual source.
The online site, Betting-AZ.com, an Arizona-based gambling site that advertises itself as “your one-stop shop for all things sports betting” in the state of Arizona, has unearthed a telling stat about pickleball.
The site conducted a study to see which sports were drawing the most amount of interest from people looking to play themselves.
“The research analyzed Google Trends data for over 45 sports of the last 12 months for search terms often associated with learning new sports,” the site reported.
To do that, search terms such as “rules”, “facilities near me” and “how to play” were quantified per each sport.
Pickleball finished fourth among the 45 sports analyzed, with over 1.13 million average searches per month flagged by the study.
That number was topped only by golf, which had the study-leading 1.37 million average monthly searches, basketball (1.32 million searches), and football (1.275 million searches).
In the study, pickleball bested boxing, bowling, soccer, tennis, baseball and mixed martial arts – which rounded out the top-10 searched sports.
The strong result for pickleball wasn’t lost on the creators of the study.
“It is fascinating to see the rise in popularity of pickleball, with many recreation centers including the sport in their facilities,” a spokesperson for the site wrote. “According to the United States Pickleball Association, there are over 10,724 locations nationwide to play, with an additional 1,557 sites including the sport as part of their roster by the end of 2022.
“This further emphasizes the popularity, and those yet to try the sport should get involved.”
It’s also interesting to note that this endorsement of pickleball is coming from a gambling website, considering that two summers ago the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour made its first foray into a possible future of betting on pro matches by partnering with Genius Sports.
Genius Sports is a data provider in the sports-betting world that partners with more than 150 sportsbooks, and calls itself a company that “powers the ecosystem connecting sports, betting and the media.”
The partnership will mean that Genius Sports will be live-streaming PPA events, which some people see as a precursor to ushering gambling into professional pickleball.
Getting back to the Google Trends study, it’s also likely that pickleball’s popularity in terms of online searches is due to the unfamiliarity new players have with the rules of the game. Established sports such as baseball and soccer are less likely to have people searching for questions about how the game is played.
But even if the popularity of pickleball is dominated by curious newbies wondering about the two-bounce rule, when they can step in the kitchen, or what is or is not a legal serve – it’s still an indication of the sport’s popularity.
You can bet on that.