Now the 66-year-old Microsoft co-founder writes in a blog post that “I’ve been a little stunned — and delighted — by the sudden popularity of one of my favorite pastimes…”
Largely confined to the Pacific Northwest for decades, it has now emerged as America’s fastest-growing sport…. It’s best described as a mash up of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. And if you haven’t heard of it, I expect you soon will….
Boredom was what got this sport started in 1965. Three dads living on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, came home one summer evening to find their children complaining that there was nothing for them to do. So, they found a net, a Wiffle ball, some ping-pong paddles, and created a game on an old badminton court that the entire family could play together…. Over the next year, the three friends worked together to develop a set of rules, formalize the court layout, and introduce a larger plywood paddle that was good for striking the ball. And they decided to call it pickleball… Meanwhile, word slowly spread in Seattle of this odd new pastime.
My dad was friends with the game’s inventors, Joel Pritchard, a state legislator and later Washington’s lieutenant governor, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell. He learned about their creation and by the late 1960s, he got inspired to build a pickleball court at our house. I’ve been playing ever since. At the time, the pickleball community was very small. I doubt there were more than a thousand people in the Seattle area who had ever seen the sport when my family picked it up. And I don’t think anyone expected it would ever become a national phenomenon.
Today, there are more than 4.8 million players nationwide, a growth of nearly 40 percent over the last two years. And I expect it will only get bigger….
The best thing about pickleball, however, is that it’s just super fun. I look forward to playing a pickleball game with friends and family at least once a week and more often during the summer.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.