Pickleball Is the Wild, Wild West’: Inside the Fight Over the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

Edward Shapiro ·
There are: Too many leagues. Too many federations. Battling billionaires. Bad behavior. And the growth of a booming sport is on the line.

In February 2021 an unholy tremor shook the seemingly carefree sport of pickleball: news that a second hall of fame was in the planning stages. The announcement, from USA Pickleball (heretofore USAP), incited a bevy of questions, such as: Wait, there’s a pickleball hall of fame? (Believe it or not.) Is anyone famous solely for playing pickleball? (Not yet.) Why stop at two? (Actually …)

Dinkheads.com, the preeminent pickleball blog, referred to USAP’s intent to erect a rival Hall as a “douche-y” move, but it’s far more serious than that. The Hall is just one parry in a series of turf wars and satellite skirmishes plaguing the fastest growing sport in America—a sport whose ambitions extend from occupying real estate at your nearest park to reaching the Olympics. To wit:

  • There exist two international—feuding—governing bodies: the relatively venerable International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) and the renegade World Pickleball Federation (WPF).
  • And two domestic professional tours: the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and its mirror-acronym rival, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA).
  • Meanwhile, a pair of competing Texas-based billionaires seem poised to go to the mattresses over the sport.
  • All of this against a backdrop of well-founded angst among the tennis set that pickleball is usurping both its real estate and its participants.

Read the rest of this article at Sports Illustrated

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