What have Drew Brees and Kim Kardashian got in common? Both have had social posts about them either playing Pickleball or maybe coming back as a professional Pickleball player (in the case of Drew Brees). Celebrities from all sides are flocking to this new and most intriguing conjunction of games. From Clooney, and Leo, to Michael Phelps and the great Andre Agassi, to Bill and Melinda and even Larry David the trend is here but unlike sailing or polo this sport is for everyone.
Sports are a vital part of our social fabric and it would be foolish to assume that the sports we play and or watch now will be identical in ten year’s time. On one hand it would be a sad idea that we cannot evolve new tastes or variants. Take bat and ball games like Cricket and Baseball, or the NBA 5 on 5 model and a 3 on 3 street ball game as examples. On the other hand understanding the triggers that drive these new sports and experiences tells us a lot about the potential world we will live in, 10 years from now.
Change is often misread as purely a moment of fashion. When a close colleague told me he was recently driving his boys past a set of tennis courts his boys called them, pickleball courts. That is the subtle shift in language that often tells or shows us more about the future than just a passing comment. Pickleball is part of a wider Zeitgeist for inclusiveness in sports. Washington State recently named Pickelball the official state sport in 2022.
It’s a mix of tennis, table tennis and badminton. You can see the ball and watch games from a very close up without paying hundreds of dollars for seats. It is instantly playable and any age can do it without the risks of injuries experienced in other racket sports. The equipment is very cheap unless you go for the professional gear made by Gamma or splurge for the $90k trunk set from our friends at Louis Vuitton, and literally you can mark it up on existing playgrounds and or tennis courts. In an age where so many kids and so many adults have really abandoned exercise as being too expensive, too time consuming and sometime not fun, Pickleball could well be the bridge back to more inclusive sport and exercise for us all.
Lindsey and Riley Newman are unlikely to be known in your household, but in Pickleball playing households the 2020/2021 US doubles champions are well known. Pickleball is a game played by two or four players. It is essentially a smaller Whiffle ball and courts can be marked out with tape, it takes about the quarter of the space of a tennis court and it can be played by anybody at any age.
Lindsey and Riley Newman were born and raised on Whidbey Island, Washington. The siblings have taken their pickleball a bit more seriously, winning the Mixed Doubles at the USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells 2021. Riley is currently ranked Top 3 in the world in Men’s and Mixed Doubles. They are sponsored by Gamma.