Pickleball is Suddenly Gaining National Media Attention

Sport Illustrated Daily Cover - Inside the Fight for the Soul (and Dollars) of the Fastest Growing Sport in AmericaPickleball, and our own little rock here on Bainbridge Island – where the game was founded – is suddenly stepping into the national media spotlight. Yesterday (May 24, 2022) Sports Illustrated ran a cover story in it’s online magazine https://www.si.com/tag/daily-cover titled “Inside the Fight for the Soul (and Dollars) of the Fastest Growing Sport in America.”

The SI piece is a not-so-flattering look at the two competing federations, two competing professional leagues, and handful of billionaires that are challenging each other for players, sponsors, equipment makers, and venues in a sport that has grown exponentially over the past several years. There’s only a passing reference to the game’s roots here on Bainbridge that go back to 1965. The balance of the story is basically an in-depth dive into the power-struggle occurring in and around the game – none of which, it would appear, is emanating from our island.

Clay Roberts receives a Governor's Pin of recognition of his contribution to pickleball courtesy of Clay RobertsA more pleasing and upbeat piece is likely to air sometime in June when CBS’s Sunday Morning will feature Pickleball and it’s beginnings on Bainbridge in one of its segments. If that wasn’t enough excitement around our Pickleball block, the May/June issue of Pickleball Magazine features two pieces high-lighting the March 28th celebration of Pickleball becoming the official sport of Washington State.

“We have been contacted by other national media outlets and there will be additional coverage this summer,” promises Bainbridge Community Pickleball spokesperson Clay Roberts, without providing any additional details.

Stovers at first Pickleball CourtWith very little advance notice, Roberts says a producer, cameraman and crew from CBS showed up on the island in early May to assemble their report. They first visited with Scott and Carol Stover, whose home in Pleasant Beach is where the game’s first court is located. Later, they spent several hours at the Founders Courts at Battle Point Park filming and interviewing local Pickleball aficionados.

Founders Courts courtesy of Bainbridge Island Pickleball, BIPRD - Battle Point Park“They talked to the parks (reps from the Metro Park District) about the need for the courts,” Roberts recalls. “I didn’t know if they wanted to be quiet or not about their (presence), but the producer said if you could get some people there that would be great.”  Roberts and a band of Pickleball helpers were able gather about “75 visitors, families (and) friends” to watch the filming, and party on down while listening to music and noshing on food. “It was a happening,” he says. “The sun was out, the courts looked great, and the Pickleball Community showed up in force.”

History of Pickleball by Jennifer Lucore book coverAdding to the excitement was the play of Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, two Pickleball pros, who put on an exhibition, interacted with fans, and played with locals. Lucore is also the co-author of “(The) History of Pickleball. More Than 50 Years of Fun.”

“Everyone wants to know when this segment will air,” says Roberts. “We don’t know and neither does the CBS crew. They have to write it, edit it and send it to a senior producer, and they will decide. The best guess is sometime in June. Once we have a date we will let you know.”

Founders Tournament commemorative paddleNext up for the Bainbridge Pickleball Community is the annual Founders Tournament, which will be held in August.


To read more about our coverage of Pickleball, see below for a few of our articles:

Local Pickleballers Already Planning for August’s Founders Tournament | THE ISLAND WANDERER

The Governor Showed Up at Pickleball’s Special Moment, But the Day Belonged to Clay Roberts! | THE ISLAND WANDERER

Born on Bainbridge Island – Pickleball is for Everyone! | THE ISLAND WANDERER

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