Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport – Answered

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We all want our favorite sports to be tournament worthy. This allows us to play and watch the game we love with other sports enthusiasts on the big stages. That holds true for all kinds of sports, including pickleball. 

Watching opponents compete for the pickleball cup in the Olympiads would be exciting. Yet, Olympic sports have specific criteria that prevent or qualify a sport as one of the Olympic Games. In this post, we will discuss these criteria and how it relates with pickleball.

From the more general question of “Is pickleball an Olympic sport?” to the more frequently asked questions on the subject, this article is meant to give clarity on the current state and fate of pickleball as an Olympic sport. 

Let’s get right into it!

Brief History of the Olympics

Brief History of the Olympics

The first record of the Olympics was in Greece in 776 B.C, when a Coroebus won the Stade (the only Olympic event at the time). However, it is a popular belief that the Games had been going on for several years, with Hercules as the founder in the 6th Century B.C.

In ancient times, the Games took place every four years, between August 6 and September 19. This was in honor of Zeus, the Greek God. The Greeks held these Games near the western coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, a sacred site in southern Greece. 

The first Olympic marathon was held in the 1896 Games, with Greece’s Spyridon Lois emerging champion and winning the first gold medal. In 1924, the marathon racetrack was standardized to 26miles and 385 yards. Greek historians coined the name “Olympiads” to represent the Olympic Games, and in ancient times, only freeborn males attended the events. So, there were no women’s events in the Olympiads. 

Olympic Events

Olympic Events

The Olympic sports feature both summer and winter games. These sports have changed over time from the first Olympic Games of 1896. Here is a list of the sports included in the 2024 Olympiads

  • Modern pentathlon 
  • Tennis
  • Surfing
  • Track and field
  • Handball
  • Rugby 7s
  • Shooting
  • Rowing
  • Golf
  • Field Hockey
  • Handball
  • Golf
  • Judo
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Synchronized swimming
  • Gymnastics
  • Taekwondo
  • Roller sport (skateboarding)
  • Sailing (including windsurfing)
  • Open water swimming
  • Rowing
  • Soccer/ Football
  • Wrestling
  • Triathlon
  • Water polo
  • Volleyball (indoor)
  • Weightlifting

The proposed 2024 list of Olympic Games is an upgrade from the 1896 Games, which only included swimming, cycling, fencing, athletics, and gymnastics.

In recent years, the following sports and events have been added to the Olympic Games:

  • Kiteboarding(part of sailing events for 2024)
  • 3×3 Basketball(part of basketball events in 2020)
  • Climbing(added in 2020)
  • Surfing(added in 2020)t
  • Rugby(added in 2016)
  • Golf(added in 2016)
  • Skateboarding (added 2020)
  • Breakdancing( added for 2024 events)

The following events were recently removed from the Olympic Games:

  • Karate
  • Baseball
  • Softball

In the future, other sports, including pickleball, may be included in the Olympic Games and Events. Yet, it may be essential to note the criteria for entering a game into the Olympiads. This might give you more insight into your question, “is pickleball an Olympic Sport?”

Criteria for Entering a Game into the Olympiads

Criteria for Entering a Game into the Olympiads

The Olympic Games began in ancient Greece in 1896, with about 241 competitors. Since then, the Games have expanded to accommodate more than 10,000 competitors. Over time, the Olympiads have seen many changes and moderations as all sports enthusiasts itch to see their favorite sports become Olympic sports. 

Here are some criteria that qualify a sport to have a spot in the Olympiads:

1. International Olympic Committee (IOC) Recognition

To become an Olympic Sport, the sport must gain IOC recognition. It also requires that the sport have a nongovernmental international governing body overseeing one other sport.

If the sport meets this certification, it moves to the IF (International Sports Federation) status. Its governing body will implement the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code. This includes conducting effective out-of-competition tests on the sport’s participants while upholding the Olympic Charter rules of conduct.

2. Application for Admittance

It is possible to gain IOC recognition but not become a competing event in the Olympic Games. For example, chess and bowling are recognized but not part of the Olympic Sports. So, to become an Olympic Sport, pickleball’s IF may need to apply for admittance. 

The IOC may then choose to admit the sport as one of these three:

  • Sport
  • Discipline
  • Event

Recently, the IOC regulates the sports population in the Olympiads by admitting new sports in cation with the dismissal of other sports. This serves to maintain public interests and control the cost of gaming and events. 

Another consideration is that the sport must increase the value and appeal of the Olympiads while demonstrating its shift to accommodate new trends and modern traditions. 

These rules have kept sports such as automobile racing and chess out of the Olympiads.

Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport?

Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport

Pickleball is not an Olympic Sport currently. Yet, it is a unique sport. It unites old values with modern trends. This may hold some appeal for the Olympiads; The picklers worldwide are campaigning to include this sport in the 2028 Olympic Games. So, our fingers are crossed, as this may become the expected reality.

Picklers Tip:

The world pickleball event on earth is the World Pickleball Games, which will be held from the 2nd –the 7th of May, 2023, in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Pickle Ranch. It is a world-class event that will bring together pickleball enthusiasts and players worldwide.is Pickleball a Professional Sport

This is an early tip to get your tickets and pack your bags for this event. 

About Pickleball

You may be a pickleball enthusiast, but how much do you know about pickleball? Let’s take a trip into pickleball’s world as we learn this fantastic game’s history and intrigues. Here are some fun facts that you did not know about pickleball:

  • Pickleball has been around since 1965. The founder Joel Pritchard was a 65-year-old from Washington D.C.  who returned with his two friends – Barney MacCallum and Bill Bell, to his hometown – Bainbridge Island. They invented this game out of a need to entertain their children on the boring Island. 
  • This game remained in obscurity till 2008, when the game reached the senior market. Now, the sport has over 8 million players worldwide, with about 68% of players over 60 years old. 
  • The name “pickleball” has nothing to do with pickles. History says that Joel Pritchard’s wife Joan had an insane fascination with the pickle boat crew, where the oarsmen for the pickle boat were selected from the remnant of other boats. So, the pickle boat did not need to find its rowers but depended on the other boats. She felt this was the same with pickleball as it was made from other sports. So, in her opinion, pickleball was the love child of sports such as golf and badminton.
  • Pickleball is a versatile game. You can play this game with a paddle, ball, and court anywhere. The sport is both an outdoor and indoor game and is suitable for people of all ages. So, the weather or climate does not have to be a hindrance o playing your favorite sport. 
  • Pickleball is also suitable for physiotherapy. You can modify the sport for people with paraplegia, which works well for people with disabilities.
  • It is also an easy sport to learn, and you can become a professional at the game in no time.

Is Pickleball a Professional Sport?

Is Pickleball a Professional Sport

Even though pickleball has become very popular over the past few years, many individuals probably haven’t watched a match. Do you believe pickleball is just a lighthearted, recreational activity where people may socialize and exercise? It may surprise you to find that pickleball is a competitive sport.

Players play to compete in tournaments and win their share of the prize money. The amateur competitions begin at the neighborhood level. The following professional level is open to players that succeed in their local tournaments.

Each time they win, the player keeps playing in the pickleball competition, allowing them the opportunity to advance to a regional and, hopefully, a national event.

More than 75 countries around the world engage in Pickleball. Yet, this number is still skewed to countries around the United States, so it does not meet the Olympic Criteria. In addition, the governing body abides by a World Anti-Doping Agency anti-doping policy. The sport holds continental and international championships regularly. 

Even though pickleball has grown in popularity recently and has been the subject of competitions and tournaments for many years, it still has a long way to go before it is included in the Summer Olympics. For a sport to be eligible for IOC recognition, it must be practiced in at least 40 countries on 3 continents for the female category and 75 countries across four continents for the men’s division. Pickleball has not reached this stage, but it is well up there. 

Summary

Is pickleball an Olympic Sport? No. Yet, we believe that it stands a chance in the future. One of the most widely anticipated sporting events worldwide is the Olympics. Because of this, new sports struggle to gain popularity. The game must be popular with sports enthusiasts on a global scale and exhibit specific characteristics to qualify as an Olympic sport.

Pickleball is undoubtedly becoming more and more popular, but earning a spot in the Olympics will not be simple, and the sport needs to focus on expanding its appeal internationally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will pickleball ever be an Olympic sport?

Pickleball is currently not an Olympic Game, but with its fast-growing popularity, it will likely become one in the future. This is only possible if the sport meets all the criteria discussed in the article above.

When did pickleball become an Olympic sport?

Pickleball is not yet an Olympic Game. Many picklers keep asking if pickleball is an Olympic sport. The response is “No.” Until at least 2024, pickleball is not an Olympic sport. The Olympics in 2024 Paris or 2028 Los Angeles are the most likely places it will appear.

Pickleball is currently not an Olympic Sport, and it will take some time to get there. Pickleball may be less likely to appear in the 2024 Olympics, but there is a reasonable probability it will appear there in 2028.

It is not yet an Olympic Sport. However, Olympic chief executive Steve Sidwell has asserted that its increasing popularity is not a secret and can undoubtedly aid the game’s inclusion in the Olympiads.

Is Pickleball the fastest-growing sport in America?

Yes. Pickleball, a hybrid sport combining tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is currently the fastest-growing activity in the United States. According to the Sport & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball participation increased by more than 7% in the five years leading up to the end of 2014, while Americans’ total activity level remained stable. Although data from 2020 has not yet been made public, the sport has gained additional momentum because of COVID-19.

Why do they call it pickleball?

According to the United States Pickleball Association, the term’s origins vary across different versions.

Joan Pritchard, the wife of Joel Pritchard, began to refer to their sport as pickleball because it reminded her of a pickle boat and its rowers. A pickle boat did not employ its rowers but scavenged for rowers from other boats. So, to Joan, pickleball was a game born out of the pickle boat’s principle. It was the birth of other sports. But Barney McCallum, a co-founder of the game, said they called the sport Pickleball after Pritchard’s dog, who was (as you might have guessed) named Pickles! Their dog was affectionate and had a reputation for stealing the ball as the family played a game, hence the name. 

Where is the pickleball capital of the world?

Due to East Naples Community Park’s 64 pickleball courts, Collier County in the State of Florida is known as the pickleball capital of the world.

Is Pickleball a Professional Sport?

Yes. Pickleball organizers are pursuing corporate sponsors to help the sport grow in the United States and internationally as part of a campaign for Olympic inclusion. The sport now has two national professional tournaments, founded in the past four years.

“We’re still small and scrappy, but we’re not so innocent anymore,” declared Stu Upson, the USA pickleball organization’s first CEO, in late 2020. To provide regulations and advance the sport, the organization was established in 2005.

Conclusion

This article has given an in-depth explanation of the Olympic Games and the fate of pickleball in the Olympiads. So, though pickleball is not yet an Olympic Game, its prospects are promising as it gains worldwide popularity. Pickleball is a fun game that is simple and easy on rookies. You can pick it up as a new hobby if you learn more about pickleball. 

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