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From Kim Kardashian to Brett Favre, Pickleball Is Having a Pop Culture Moment

From Kim Kardashian to Brett Favre, Pickleball Is Having a Pop Culture Moment

  • In the past few years, the CBS Sports Network and ESPN have begun televising pickleball tournaments, but they’re not the only channels where you can catch your favorite sport: From sitcoms to commercials, talk shows to reality juggernauts, everyone’s getting in on the pickleball game.
InPickleball Issue 1 | Volley | Celebrity Picklers | Kim Kardashian | Brett Favre
GRIDIRON DINKS

In their commercial for Copper Fit Ice Knee Sleeves, NFL legends Jerry Rice and Brett Favre play doubles pickleball while recounting war wounds: “Jammed finger!” [Whack] “Broken thumb!” [Whack] “Torn ACL!” [Whack] “Fractured vertebrae!” Let’s hope their new favorite activity goes a little easier on the body than football did… 


THE FAMILY THAT PICKLES TOGETHER

In spring 2020, Kylie Jenner purchased a new mansion in LA’s Holmby Hills—and it came with its own pickleball court. The pastime runs in the family: Her half-sisters Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney Kardashian played doubles on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kim even used the sport as an icebreaker to make peace with Khloé’s NBA player boyfriend, Tristan Thompson, with whom Kim had been feuding: “I have no idea how to even start a conversation with Tristan,” Kim said on the show, “and pickleball was the first thing that popped into my head.”

KARDASHIAN: JARED SISKIN/PATRICK MCMULLAN/GETTY IMAGES. GOLDBERGS: COURTESY ABC. FEMALE PICKLEBALL PLAYER: JOHN STEPHENS. PADDLE WITH HANDS, PICKLEBALLS: ISTOCK.
GYM CLASS HEROES

Sure, pickleball’s been picking up speed lately, but it’s been going strong for decades. If you need proof, look no further than “Pickleball,” a 2020 episode of ABC’s 1980s-set sitcom The Goldbergs, in which high schooler Adam (played by Sean Giambrone) joins the varsity pickleball team. His principal calls it “the sport of kings,” but Adam puts it a little more succinctly: “Let’s do this giant Ping-Pong thing!” 


PRESIDENTIAL PLAY

Today show host Jenna Bush Hager told a story on-air about the pickleball tournament her family held at their Maine compound. The former First Daughter made it all the way to the semifinals, and when co-host Hoda Kotb asked her if everyone in her family was as competitive as she is, she responded, “Yes, I mean, think about it: Like, my dad was president.” Hager said that before the tournament, her father hadn’t played a racket sport since 1971. 

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