By now we’re all familiar with pickleball. We’ve heard about it from friends, relatives, and neighbors. After all, it is the fastest-growing recreational sport with roughly five million players.
But somehow, it lacks the status of other sports. You know, the ones with big name players, top athletes, and big leagues. Like the NBA, MLB, MLS, NFL, and more. But now, there is a new entrant to the big leagues – MLP (also known as major league pickleball)!
Even basketball king LeBron James is in on the action, having recently purchased a MLP team. The MLP will expand to 24 teams next year. Each team has co-ed players, two men and two women, who play singles and doubles events.
In MLP play, there are no home teams. Similar to the three-on-three basketball league Big3, all teams arrive in the tournament city for play. This year there were three tournaments and next year will have six tournaments. Prize money in 2023 will be $2.4 million (compared to $1 million this year).
The popularity of pickleball has grown rapidly. Community organizations, tennis clubs, and athletic gear companies have all gotten in on the new sport. Pickleball-only clubs are also being developed. One such club is Lucky Shot in Minneapolis where players match up in a 40,000-square-foot space. Other entertainment locations such as breweries are also installing pickleball courts.
It may have a crazy name, but it’s caught on and entered the big leagues!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: What are favorite sports? Which sports do the students play?
- Who has played pickleball? Describe their experiences.
- Show the MLP site: https://www.majorleaguepickleball.net/
- Show Lucky Shots site: https://luckyshotspickleball.com/
- Show Smash Park site: https://smashpark.com/
- Divide students into teams.
- Have each team put together a marketing campaign to gain followers for a pickleball team.
- What are the key elements?
Source: Berkman, S. (14 June 2022). Developers embrace passion for pickleball. New York Times.; Mather, V. (3 October 2022). Move over… everything? Here comes major league pickleball. New York Times.