Pickleball to be Touted as the Official Sport of Washington State

Most islanders are probably aware that Bainbridge is the home of Pickleball. Now Legislation is being proposed to make the game Washington State’s official sport!

“If we don’t claim it some other state will,” says Clay Roberts, a spokesman for the more than 400 Bainbridge Island Pickleball players. “This is very exciting (news).  We have been urging the Governor to propose Pickleball as the state sport for some time.”

Two Washington State Senators -John Lovick of Mill Creek and Sam Hunt of Olympia – are behind the push to make the game, started by three island buddies back in the 1960s, the King of Sports in the Evergreen State. The Senate is expected to take up the matter sometime in February.

Roberts, who was a prime mover behind the creation of the Founders Court and its accompanying recognition kiosk at Battle Point Park, says state’s such as Florida, Arizona and Hawaii – where Pickleball is hugely popular – might be tempted to do the same, so Washington’s move to make the game it’s official sport, is coming none to soon.

“We’re supporting it, obviously,” he says of the bill. “People come here (to the island) because of Pickleball. It’s good for Bainbridge.” Roberts says on a map of the United States at the Park’s Pickleball clubhouse there are “100 pins” stuck on state’s where people have visited the island and played on the Founders Court. Another 25 pins are jabbed to a world map where people have visited from around the globe.

“A lot of (Pickleball) communities around the country start their games in the Northwest part of the court to honor Bainbridge Island and where we’re located”, Roberts adds. “Seriously.”

Currently, there is no official sport of Washington. Other states like Alaska (Dog Mushing), California (Surfing) and Delaware (Biking) have designated official sports, known to their specific regions.

The proposed legislation in the state Senate would essentially recognize that Pickleball was “created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island by Joel McFee Pritchard, who went on to be elected lieutenant governor and a member of Congress for Washington, along with two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum.”

It goes on to say, “These men created the game at Pritchard’s summer cabin after they ‘persuaded’ their abnormally hyper children to go outside to play a few games of badminton, but there was no badminton equipment to be found. Instead, these fathers did some brainstorming and created a new game using ping-pong paddles, a net, and a neighbor’s plastic wiffle ball.”

“The rules that they created for the new game, which they named Pickleball, are still used today by the USA Pickleball Association.,” the measure continues. “The legislature finds that Pickleball is a game that can be played by anyone, one-on-one, or as a team, and has expanded far beyond Washington to become a nationally and internationally beloved game; over 4 million people play Pickleball in the United States and there are currently 67 member countries in the International Federation of Pickleball.”

“Soon pickleball will even be televised by Fox Sports,” the measure adds. “The legislature intends to honor and recognize the Washingtonians who created, popularized, and continue to enjoy this sport by designating Pickleball the official sport of the state of Washington.” As a result a new section will be added to chapter 1.20 RCW to read as follows: “The sport of Pickleball is hereby designated as the official sport of the State of Washington.”

If you want to send a note of support to your state legislators, you can do so by clicking on the link below.https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill/5615

Scroll to Top