Pickleball is the Fastest Growing Sport in the US
Cross Generational Fun
The fastest growing sport in America is one that many have never heard of – pickleball. The paddle sport is a mix of tennis and badminton, with some table tennis thrown in. Enthusiasts claim it’s easy to learn, is enjoyed by people of all ages, and can be played together by people of varying skill levels. This attribute is part of the appeal – family members of all ages can gather around the net and have some fun together.
The sport really saw interest take off during the pandemic, as people looked for new ways to connect outdoors.
Currently the sport is on fire, both in terms of investor interest and popularity. From 2019 to 2021, participation in the sport grew by 39%, with nearly half the increase attributed to players in the 6-to-24-year-old age range. This brought the number of US players up to 4.8 million in 2021. To meet growing demand, tennis courts are being converted to pickleball courts, and tournaments are being created.
The “US Open Pickleball,” set to air on CBS Sports Network (PARA), has over 40 sponsors and is expected to attract about 25,000 spectators.
Investors See Opportunities
Investors and businesses see opportunities in the pickleball craze. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Milwaukee Bucks’ co-owner Marc Lasry have put cash into the sport. Pickleball has also attracted private equity. Luxury health club group LifeTime (LTH), which has 160 locations, is adding courts to meet consumer demand. Just last month the company saw a 1,100% increase in the number of new pickleball players at its clubs.
Families may soon have more opportunities to grab grandma and grandpa and head out for some outdoor fun on the court. In the meantime, both the financially and athletically curious are increasingly finding themselves asking: what’s pickleball?
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