Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. According to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there are over 4.8 million players nationwide. It’s predicted by 2030 there will be nearly 40 million global players.
Courts are popping up all over the county, including some college campuses. Schools like Texas A&M, Florida State University, Southern Utah University, and the University of South Carolina have pickleball clubs and courts on campus. Students on the team play competitively in tournaments. These campuses also offer drop-in times so students can learn to play and have fun with friends and family.
The first intercollegiate pickleball tournament was held at Southern Utah University (SUU). Students from SUU competed against Dixie State in 60 matches. SUU came out victorious and was the very first winner of the Western Collegiate Team Pickleball Tournament (WCTP). Currently, there are approximately 30 colleges that have pickleball clubs. You can see the list here, Campus Pickleball Clubs.
What Is Pickleball
Pickleball is an awesome combination of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. Sounds crazy, right? It gets better. There’s a non-volley zone called the “kitchen”. A play called, “third-shot drop”, is dreaded by the opposing team. We can’t leave out the brilliance of “the dink”. And when a team scores zero points in a whole game, you are “pickled”.
The game is played on a badminton-sized court or a slightly modified tennis court. The net is lower than in other racquet sports. It is played with a paddle and durable wiffle ball (plastic balls with perforated holes)—doesn’t that take you back to childhood? The sport can be played both indoors and outdoors. It can be played as doubles or singles. Most importantly, it can be played by any age and skill level.
The Craze Is Not Slowing Down Anytime Soon
Pro athletes are getting in on the pickleball phenomenon. Seven-time Super Bowl champ, Tom Brady and six-time tennis Grand Slam champ, Kim Clijsters just announced they bought a Major League Pickleball (MLP) team. NBA stars, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Draymond Green bought an MLP pro team too. Pro athletes aren’t the only ones getting in on the pickleball obsession. Entrepreneurs are cashing in too. Gary Vaynerchuk recently announced he was a new MLP, team owner. With this type of interest, no wonder why it’s the fastest-growing sport in the US.
Next month, Stephen Colbert will host a two-hour Celebrity Pickleball Tournament called Pickled. Pickled will feature 16 celebrities competing for a coveted “Colbert Cup” and benefit the non-profit Comic Relief U.S. Some of the celebrities taking part in Pickled include Murray Bartlett, Dierks Bentley, Will Ferrell, Daniel Dae Kim, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kelly Rowland, and Emma Watson. Pickled will debut on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. Everyone is getting in on the fun.
Why Is Pickleball So Popular
So why is pickleball sweeping the nation? Pickleball’s popularity isn’t only because it’s fun. It’s because it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and athletic abilities. It’s easy to play and once you understand them, the rules are uncomplicated. It is inexpensive, provides a great workout, and is inclusive to all. It is the perfect way to exercise and socialize.
The best part of pickleball everyone can play it. When you head to the pickleball court you will see, teens playing with seniors, athletes playing with non-athletes, and males and females playing against each other. Other sports are not that all-embracing.
College And Pickleball
As the fastest-growing sport in America, it should be included as a college sport. Students would enjoy the opportunity to compete with other university students in an exciting, competitive, and social environment.
As the popularity of the sport continues to rise, the opportunity for colleges to start pickleball programs at their schools will expand. Fortunately, the equipment is relatively inexpensive, and it is easy to get going and maintain. It wouldn’t be a big financial burden on the school.
While students can find scholarship opportunities for most college sports, it may be a little harder to find one for pickleball. But I don’t expect that to last too long with how popular the sport is. Presently, there are Pickleball Grant Programs that are meant to encourage collegiate pickleball programs or clubs that get students to play the game. Keep an eye out, scholarships for this sport will be popping up soon.
How You Can Get Your College Involved
If pickleball hasn’t caught the attention of your athletic department reach out to them and get something going. Whether you want to create a sports team or sports club, or just have some tennis courts modified for pickleball you will need to get in contact with your college’s athletic department. It is through them that changes will be made.
If your athletic department doesn’t know where to start, U.S. Collegiate Pickleball has you covered. They will help your school set up its campus program. Be sure to share their information with the athletic department.
The Benefits Of Sports To Students
Sports have been seen as a way to stay active and in shape. They teach life lessons like teamwork, discipline, and confidence. However, their importance for college students goes much further. From a social standpoint, sports, like pickleball, can bring students together and create lasting friendships.