Tennis and golf aside, networks and brands take advantage of the pickleball

Bloomberg – During the pandemic, Tyson Apostol, a gregarious ex-contestant on several seasons of the hit CBS show “Survivor,” took a career turn at the opportune moment. He took a step back from reality TV and went all out to the pickleball.

“I tried it and fell in love,” Apostol said.

First invented in the 1960s, the pickleball, a sport of paddle tennis, often described as a hybrid of tennis, ping pong and badminton, is gaining popularity. Across the U.S., new pickleball courts are popping up in parks, schools, homeowners’ associations, condos, and mansions. Hollywood , themed restaurants and sports clubs, as communities struggle to meet the growing demand. In 2020, approximately 4.2 million people played pickleballAccording to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, a 21 percent more than the previous year.

“We believe this sport can be as big or bigger than tennis,” said pickleball driver Connor Pardoe. “We have seen this sport grow much faster than we expected.”

Pardoe is the commissioner of the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), a for-profit company based near Salt Lake City, that aims to be to pickleball what the PGA is to golf. This year, the PPA organized 16 pickleball tournaments across the country, compared to 8 events in 2019, the first year of his tour. His rival, the Pickleball Professionals Association Professionals (APP for its acronym in English), is also organizing tours throughout the country and even expanding to Europe.

Pickleball tournaments, or “festivals,” as Pardoe likes to call them, feature a mix of enthusiastic amateurs, who pay tickets to play against their peers, and professionals, who compete for cash prizes and tour points that determine their national rankings. . The annual award money in the PPA has increased from $ 500,000 in 2019 to more than $ 2.5 million next year.

All of this has set off something of a pickleball gold rush.As media companies, corporate sponsors, clothing brands, equipment manufacturers and restaurants flock to the burgeoning industry in hopes of capitalizing on the pickleball craze.

Apostle has quickly become an influential leader in pickleball. Has paid associations with Fila, Gamma Sports and PicklePlay, an app that helps users find pickleball matches and sells pickleball products, hosts pickleball get-togethers, co-hosts a popular pickleball podcast, and recently hosted a “Survivor watch” tv party. At a pickleball place in Utah.

“There’s a big crossover: ‘Survivor’ is a larger demographic in Middle America,” Apostol said. And just like ‘Survivor’, pickleball is really trying to reach a younger audience”.

For decades after its invention in Washington state in the 1960s, the pickleball remained a fringe activity. Supporters tend to credit retired baby boomers living in the Sun Belt states for sparking the current explosion in popularity. Players say it’s much easier to master the basics of pickleball than, say, golf or tennis. A pickleball court is about one-third the size of a tennis court, so players can get a good workout without much risk of injury.

“Pickleball is my life,” said Kathy Demetri, 59, a Pittsburgh-area engineer who traveled and played in approximately 20 pickleball tournaments over the past year. “Coming from tennis, where you have to be pretty nice and correct, there is a more social aspect to pickleball. You can animate a lot more. “

The television networks have noticed. Recently, Fox Sports signed an agreement with the PPA according to which the national broadcaster will broadcast pickleball events through its cable channels and websites. Fans now You can also watch pickleball competitions on CBS Sports Network, Tennis Channel, and ESPN3.

Meanwhile, tournaments are increasingly packed with brand endorsements, ranging from hotels to beverage and apparel companies. In November, the PPA secured its first car deal, signing Hyundai as an official tour partner.. Guaranteed Rate, the giant mortgage company, which already works with the National Hockey League, NASCAR and Major League Baseball, recently joined the growing ranks of corporate sponsors for the PPA.

“It’s a sport that has taken the country by storm,” said Steve Moffat, Guaranteed Rate’s chief marketing officer. “This felt like a very good addition to our portfolio.”

The emerging pickleball media landscape is teeming with new entrants. There are pickleball podcasts, pickleball YouTube channels, and a growing library of pickleball books . In September, InPickleball magazine, a new monthly, backed by private investors in Southern California, launched its first issue. InPickleball President Richard Porter said that While the sport is getting younger, the main demographic is still 50 and over, a group, he said, that still loves print magazines.

Long-time sporting goods manufacturers are also profiting. Adam Franklin, the president of Franklin Sports, a global team brand with strong ties to baseball, says pickleball is “a bit of a unicorn business”. In 2018, Franklin Sports introduced its first pickleball product, a proprietary ball, now known as X-40 .

Franklin said the company currently sells hundreds of thousands of balls every week and that its paddles move fast too. Based on data from in-store and web sales, Franklin believes the sport is expanding faster than SFIA’s frequently cited statistic, Competency Framework for the Information Age) from 21 percent year-over-year growth.

Skeptics point to other fashion competitions that once promised to swallow up the American sports landscape only to return to obscurity eventually (remember paintball?) But the inhabitants of the pickleverse tend to see a bright future.

“I don’t see any reason why it will slow down anytime soon,” Franklin said. “I think we are still at the beginning. I wouldn’t be surprised if by 2030 we saw 20 to 30 million active players“.

You may be interested in:

Kevin Durant Signs Deal To Promote Coinbase Crypto Platform

Tiger Woods returns to golf 10 months after accident

Why is polo the great Argentine export industry?

This article was translated by: Miriam Salazar

We want to give thanks to the author of this post for this outstanding web content

Tennis and golf aside, networks and brands take advantage of the pickleball

Decode The News Podcast