In A Pickle? – The Rise of Pickleball 🏓

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In A Pickle? – The Rise of Pickleball

It’s not every day that a new sport becomes extremely popular and manages to sustain that popularity for a long period of time. Originating from Bainbridge Island in 1965, pickleball is a product of tennis and ping pong with its own set of unique rules and equipment, and ever since the pandemic it has been the fastest-growing sport in the world, with participation increasing by 158.6 percent to more than 4.8 million players. Pickleball is unique because it requires less athletic ability and experience unlike tennis, while also having a lower learning curve.

This has caused heavy investment to flood into the sport, with quarterback Tom Brady, rapper Drake, and actor Michael B. Jordan all purchasing stakes in pickleball teams across the country. As a result, we have seen the rise of Major League Pickleball, which has grown exponentially from eight teams to 24 with increased prize money and more annual events. A key reason why this is becoming attractive compared to investments in other sports franchises is due to the cost; recently, the Washington Commanders of the NFL sold for $6.05 billion, and the Phoenix Suns of the NBA went for $4 billion. In comparison, pickleball franchises are currently valued between $1 million and $10 million, a far cheaper investment in a sport that could have the potential to skyrocket even further.

However, there are still concerns that are keeping investors out. Experts have cast doubt on pickleball’s ability to be a television event, where most of the revenue will come from, and the fact that they have had to rely on tennis legends to make events popular so far. Many compare the sport to ping-pong or even esports, which have failed to make it big despite having so much popularity and players. It amounts to a risky investment, but one that could pay off big if TV deals are struck and viewers are attracted to it. 

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I am not a financial advisor and my comments should never be taken as financial advice. Investments come with risk, so always do your research and analysis beforehand.

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