Pickleball has exploded over the last few years—mainly during the pandemic—making it the fastest-growing sport in America.
- From 2021 to 2022, more than 36.5 million people picked up pickleball as their new hobby, according to estimates from the Association of Pickleball Professionals.
- Interest in the game shot up by 275% from 2019 to 2022, and it was the fastest-growing sport in America last year, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
- The game was relatively unknown before the pandemic, but sparked interest during the 2020 lockdown as many people began adopting new hobbies.
Why it’s news
Many different sports garnered attention during the pandemic as people started adopting new hobbies to try while in lockdown.
Pickleball was one of the main winners that came of the pandemic going from a relatively unknown sport to millions of people loving the game and continuing to play it after the lockdown subsided, CNBC reports.
Interest in pickleball shot up by 275% from 2019 to 2022, according to consumer data from Yelp, and it is now considered the fastest-growing sport in America.
From 2021 to 2022, more than 36.5 million people picked up the sport as their new hobby, according to estimates from the Association of Pickleball Professionals.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity, it is garnering attention from professional athletes, investors, and now major sports companies. ESPN has officially secured a wide-scale rights deal to broadcast pickleball.
The deal consists of ESPN2 broadcasting eight one-hour pickleball event recap shows and ESPN+ streaming over 200 hours of live coverage of eight events from the sport’s annual tour.
The game has garnered many investors, including professional athletes. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently invested.
Basketball star LeBron James bought a team in September along with current basketball player Draymond Green. Super Bowl champ Tom Brady and tennis star Kim Clijsters have also invested in a team together.
Outside of athletes, others are picking up pickleball as well. Hedge fund manager Marc Lasry recently invested in a pickleball team alongside tennis player James Blake and Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, stood out with its investment as the first Fortune 500 company to buy a pickleball team.