Dec 14: Everyone’s going crazy for pickleball

December 14, 2023

We first heard about pickleball from one of our line dancing friends who is a tennis player. This was a few years ago. There was something new, she said, sort of like tennis mixed with ping-pong, played on a half-tennis court with a hard bat and a sort of wiffle ball.

Huh, we said to each other.

It was more recently that we began to hear that pickleball, perhaps like The Macarena dance of decades ago, had become a craze (as well as a recreational sport) not just for seniors but for players of all ages. Save with SPP took a look around to see what’s causing all the excitement.

“There is a sport that has taken off in Canada,” writes Shireen Ahmed for CBC Sports. “Neighbourhood parks are full of enthusiastic athletes, but the sport’s popularity has become polarizing on many courts: the centre of said drama is pickleball.”

The game has become so popular that it is crowding out other activities, she explains.

“There are noise complaints, annoyances to local residents and also a movement to reduce it because it is pushing children away from playgrounds. Is pickleball really threatening the suburban happiness of Canadians? Is it a sport or a leisure activity? Why are people so mad about it,” she asks.

It’s not an all-new sport, she writes – it was first played in this country in the 1970s and the first pickleball courts in Canada were built in Vancouver in 1984. But the sport has taken off, Ahmed reports, and there are now 1.37 million players – known as “picklers” – in Canada. There is even a pro league that has attracted Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, she writes.

While it is a bit noisy (the plastic ball hitting the ground and bats) Ahmed concludes that it was easy to pick up, and fun.

Down in the U.S.A., reports Inc., pickleball is now more popular than tennis.

The article expands on the idea that pickleball is easy to pick up.

“Pickleball’s triumph stems from its careful blend of novelty and familiarity. Despite introducing a new and exciting activity, the sport cleverly utilizes the existing infrastructure of tennis courts and incorporates rules reminiscent of its well-established counterpart. This lesson for brands underscores the idea that innovation need not be revolutionary. Offering a fresh twist on a familiar experience can captivate consumers without alienating them, creating a perfect balance. Draw people in with something new, but don’t scare them away,” the article tells us.

“The low barrier to entry–affordable equipment, ordinary athleticism, existing courts, and the simplicity of the game–make it easy for individuals of varying ages and skill levels to embrace the sport,” the article adds.

Reminds us of when soccer began to really take off decades ago – equipment costs, compared to sports like football or hockey, were much lower.

The game’s popularity is taking off so fast that the sports industry is struggling to keep pace, reports Yahoo! Sports.

“The industry is still struggling to keep pace with pickleball’s surging participation numbers. But small businesses and large corporations alike are catching up, while municipalities and private clubs race to build courts across the country,” the article reports. A November pickleball championship was expected to draw 50,000 fans, 4,000 amateur players and 200 pros, the article continues.

“You’re going to see pickleball everywhere next year,” Adam Franklin, president of Franklin Sports, the 77-year-old sporting goods company, tells Yahoo! Sports. “I still think we’re really in the early days of how this is going to look in the U.S. landscape.”

Maybe we’ll have to give this a try!

Perhaps some of the money saved on sporting equipment by the relatively low-priced activity/sport of pickleball can be directed towards your retirement savings program. If you don’t have a program through work, and are saving on your own, a great partner is waiting to help you – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. All the dollars you contribute to your SPP account will be professionally invested in a low-cost, pooled fund. At retirement, you can choose such options as a lifetime annuity, or SPP’s Variable Benefit, now available to all members.

Check out SPP today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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