Pickleball is a Sport: Tennis, Badminton & Ping-Pong (Combo)

Pickleball has been booming in recent years. This is a sport that combines three internationally acclaimed sports in one – tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is a very social sport and it can be played by two or four players. In the beginning, it was most commonly played by the baby boomer generation. But, nowadays, it’s played by people from all walks of life. It can be played both indoors and outdoors.

Pickleball is a professional sport. According to Topendsports, a sport is any human activity involving physical skill and exertion, governed by a set of rules, which is competitive and has an achievable result. Pickleball meets all of these qualifications.

Knowing that Pickleball is a real sport does not constitute that it’s a recognized international sport. There are certain qualifications before a sport can be internationally recognized.

We’ll be talking about what a sport is, the difference between a recognized sport and a sport, and a couple more things and relate to Pickleball as we go along, further in the article.

Definition of a “Sport.”

According to the book “Encyclopedia of World Sport – From Ancient Times to the Present” there are several factors to consider before an activity can be called a sport. In this publication, the authors mentioned that an activity can be considered as a sport if:

  1. It has the ability to become a competition between two or more individuals or teams,
  2. Have rules that allow for a winner to be determined,
  3. If the primary goal is to win, and
  4. Victory is determined by the physical ability of the competitors, but can also be influenced by strategy and chance.

Forbes defines sport as

“An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.”

While Sports Australia (known before as the Australian Sports Commission) has the definition of sport as

“A human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and/or physical skill, which, by its nature and organization, is competitive and is generally accepted as being a sport.”

Given the definitions above, we can look at Pickleball carefully to justify that it really is a sport.

Pickleball is a competitive sport played by two or more people where an individual winner or team winner can be determined. The main objective is to beat the other team and win, by using strategy, physical skill, and, of course, by chance. We can now safely conclude that Pickleball is a sport.

Pickleball is an Internationaly Recognized Sport

“Sport” is already defined in the previous section, but what is a recognized sport? It is when a sport has an international sports federation in place. The role of this federation is to regulate rules, spread the word about the game, recognize, train, and develop players, and organize championship events.

All of these international sports federations are subject to the authority of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), which is also responsible for approving a sports federation for the international title.

The difference between the two lies in what type of governing organization each sport has. A sport may be considered “a sport” but may not be a recognized one. Each recognized sport has a corresponding federation that has rules and regulations that need to be followed. A sport, on the other hand, may have a set of rules they follow or an organization that rules them, but these organizations are not internationally acclaimed by the GAISF.

Having given you the difference between a sport and a recognized sport, we can then again take a closer look at Pickleball to see if it is a recognized sport. Pickleball has indeed an international federation in place, called the International Federation of Pickleball.

With this is in mind, an internationally recognized sport is any sport that has an international sports foundation in place, accepted and recognized by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

Pickleball & the Summer Olympics Games

For a sport to qualify for the Summer Olympics Games, Pickleball has to meet the IOC (International Olympic Committee) requirements and be accepted as an Olympic sport. Below are some of the main criteria use by the IOC.

International Olympic Committee Criteria

  • Universality
  • Popularity
  • Governance
  • Athlete Welfare and Development

In addition to these criteria, the international sports must be:

  • Practiced in more than 75 countries worldwide.
  • Have an anti-doping policy in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
  • State regular world and continental championships.
  • Be committed to youth development.
  • Have robust and independent governance structures.

Although Pickleball has been gaining popularity in recent years, and tournaments and competitions are already taking place for years, it still has a long way to go before it becomes part of the Summer Olympics. To be able to qualify for the IOC recognition, a sport must be played in 75 countries across 4 continents for the men’s division and 40 countries on 3 continents for the female division. Pickleball has not reached or fulfilled these criteria.

Can Pickleball Become an Olympic Sport?

Given that Pickleball, which is a crossbreed of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong (all Olympic sports), is quickly gaining more and more international popularity, it may have a good chance of eventually entering the Olympic realm. If and when this happens, it will be categorized as a net sport alongside its cousin sports of a sort. To be honest, the growing popularity of the sport is somewhat a good indication that one day it might enter the arena of the Olympics. However, this dream might still need a bit of work. Several sports analysts predict 2028 to be the year when PIckleball might enter the Olympic Tournament.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, Pickleball is a sport that is internationally played by many. Tournaments and competitions can be seen online with trophies and prizes given to winners. However, this sport is not part of the Olympics as it still hasn’t met the criteria set by the International Olympic Committee. Nevertheless, it does possess the qualities that are needed for the sport to make it in the future. So you better watch out for this sport in the coming years because you might see this sport alongside, badminton, tennis, ping-pong and other net and racquet sports.