No, currently pickleball is a professional sport that is not included in the Olympics yet. But speculations are that pickleball will be included in the 2024 Paris Olympics or the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the USA today. It has gained massive popularity among older and younger citizens alike. For the first time in 2001 pickleball was introduced in the Arizona Senior Olympics. A total of 100 senior players participated in the largest event of pickleball at that time.
The Invention of a new Sport: Pickleball
It originated in the summer of 1965 at home on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. The first-ever, informal game of pickleball was played by two friends Joel Pritchard (a congressman from Washington) and Bill Bell (a prosperous businessman).
They both were on vacation with their families and could not find the right equipment to kill the boredom. They are extempore and played with table tennis paddles on a badminton court. Eventually, as they enjoyed playing that new sport activity, another friend of theirs joined in. Together with Barney McCallum, three men decided on the game’s basic rules and kept on playing it. That was the moment of the invention of pickleball, a fun family sport.
Evolution of Pickleball
The first ever pickleball special court was constructed in 1967 and in 1972 Pritchard and his friends initiated a corporation for the growth of this sport. That corporation gained a good response from the public and in 1975-76 a Tennis magazine and National Observer wrote about this new racquet sport. The same year the first on-record tournament of pickleball was held in Tukwila, Washington D.C. Wooden paddles and a Wiffle ball were used for the tournament.
The first ever rule book of pickleball was published by USAPA in 1984 which covered detailed rules and regulations of the sport. USAPA played a crucial role in the advancement and growth of pickleball. Till the late 1990s, there were major advancements in equipment and regulations of the sport including composite material paddles, and machine drilled balls.
But that was in 2001 when pickleball got major recognition and was included in the Arizona Senior Olympics. By 2003 pickleball was officially played in 10 American states, and 150 professional courts. In 2005 pickleball was included in the National Senior Games Association for the first time.
Since then pickleball has been considered one of the fastest growing sports in America with over 4 million players. Now USAPA has almost 40,000 active players registered with them.
Now the question arises if it will ever be an Olympic sport.
And the answer is pretty simple yes. The International Olympic Committee has certain criteria to include any sports. According to that criteria, any men’s sports must be played in at least 75 countries on 4 continents and for women, it must be played in at least 40 countries across 3 continents. But by now pickleball has not reached that stage yet. But speculations are that till 2028 pickleball will fulfill those criteria and be calculated in the Los Angeles Olympics.
Will Pickleball debut at the 2024 Olympics?
Despite all the popularity and ever-growing profile, pickleball still has not attained the level to be included in Olympics. USAPA needs to take some serious steps to fulfill its Olympic Goals.
Currently, most of its players are US based and it’s not very popular in Europe and Africa. If USAPA plans to debut at the 2028 Olympics it needs to grow in other continents as well. Currently, there are players registered with USAPA from 48 countries.
Is Pickleball Played worldwide?
Yes, pickleball has been played in more than 40 countries across the Globe. It is also getting popular in East Africa, North America, Asia, and Canada. But it has most of its players based in the USA. In fact, its popularity is increasing at the rate of 21.3% per annum in the United States. The World Pickleball Federation is taking steps to organize events on 4 continents of the World.
Pickleball is a very popular racquet sport among Americans. The world has seen a recent surge in its popularity after COVID-19 and now almost 4 million players are playing this fun and exciting sport. But it hasn’t been included in the Olympics yet because it needs to fulfill specified criteria of the IOC to become part of the Olympics.