Franklin Sports has been around for 75-years and pickleball has been played since it’s invention in 1965 near where I grew up in Seattle. The diverse global sporting goods retailer and manufacturer along with USA Pickleball, the sport’s national governing body, entered into a contractual partnership focused on business steps to prop up one of the fastest growing sports in America, next to eSports, with the goal of being invited as a Demonstration Sport during the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. With the start of Tokyo 2020 Olympics just a few weeks away, the Sports Techie community blog is cautiously optimistic that in 7-years’ time, the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control and international mega-events like the Games, or 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted in North America across the United States, Canada and Mexico, will go on as planned, unlike in Japan where the virus is still a major problem resulting in the absence of in-person fans attending the many live events. One step towards Olympics’ acceptance is the news about the X-40 Ball. It was designed and manufactured by Franklin and is now USA Pickleball’s new Official Ball. Growing the game is the tag line for all sports and recreational activities, and there is no better way to do it than to improve equipment through the use of technology to even the playing field for all. The other proven method is to provide youth development initiatives which is just the formula the two organizations plan to execute over the coming years.
Governing Body Partners
The pickleball NGB’s more than 45,000 members will be provided with selected opportunities to use the standardized ball in both regional and national pickleball tournaments hosted across the USA. Franklin and several other domestic companies in the space are key drivers promoting the sport resulting in the surge of players and organized play.
USA Pickleball role as the NGB is to provide players with official rules, tournaments, rankings, and promotional materials. The NGB plans to use membership programs, youth development events, and educational resources as means to continue on the right path towards generating substantial growth and interest by all genders in playing the competitive, calorie burning and fun sport.
“Pickleball is just scratching the surface of what we believe it can become as a sport, and our pickleball partnerships and growing product collection reflect that belief,” said Adam Franklin, president of Franklin Sports.
Franklin Sports Power
This worldwide sporting goods brand designs, manufactures and sells thousands of sport products involving many specialties such as baseball batting gloves in use in tonight’s Major League Baseball 2021 All-Star game going on at Coors Field.
The company decided to tackle the burgeoning pickleball market in 2016 through the release of the game-changing X-40 ball. Today, the Massachusetts-based corporation has a growing selection of pickleball products including paddles, balls, nets, soon to be apparel and shoes, and more. They are also showcasing several prominent professional pickleball players as partners featuring, Ben Johns, the top-ranked pickleball player in the world.
“We’re excited to partner with Franklin Sports, a company that continues to play an integral role in growing and bringing pickleball to the forefront of sports for both tournament and recreational players,” said Stu Upson, CEO of USA Pickleball. “This is an all-encompassing partnership with support in the key areas of youth, membership, and competition, and we look forward to getting started.”
Look for the orgs to drive the development of pickleball through schools, colleges and academies.
Mr. Franklin added, “We share USA Pickleball’s vision of bringing this incredible game to the forefront of the sports world, so we’re very excited to collaborate with their team on a wide variety of growth and development initiatives. This is a sport that has so many amazing qualities – it’s highly accessible, it keeps people active, and it brings people together in a fun yet competitive way. We’re looking forward to working alongside USA Pickleball to continue to grow and develop the sport and we can’t wait to see the X-40 ball in action at all of these upcoming tournaments.”
The Official Ball of the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in addition some 200 independent tournaments annually worldwide, the Franklin X-40 is now to be the official ball of USA Pickleball’s flagship National Tournament and its corresponding National Championship Series at Newport Beach Championships, and Regional Championship Series events.
Beginning in 2018, the USA Pickleball National Championships tournament has been hosted by the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Palm Indian Wells, California – home of the BNP Paribas Open. Each year, thousands of participants compete for the title of National Champion in the weeklong event. In the months leading up to the 2021 Nationals, athletes will compete in a series of regional events to secure their place at Nationals. Over 2,500 athletes have already secured their registration for the 2021 National Tournament, which will take place this December.
Retail stores nationwide emerging from the pandemic will be flush with Franklin’s pickleball gear to meet the demand.
Sports Techie, my son and I went on vacation to Idaho last month to see my parents and his grandparents, and we saw official USA pickleball courts in action at Settlers Park in the city of Meridian, mostly played between seniors looking to workout and compete with friends. I myself have not played pickleball since the 80s and 90s but after watching it Live, I know my skills are not that far from being above average.
It is easy to see why the sport is surging with popularity. In many way, it was the perfect storm. The pandemic caused people to look for sports that had social distancing parameters. The cost of play is relatively inexpensive. The learning curve is not too difficult. Finally, Franklin Sports and other sporting good companies in partnerships with USA Pickleball, helped met this storm with a calm demeanor and sound gameplan ready to outfit players, expand courts, tournaments and winnings, while upgrading the sport with sports tech.
Love the game of pickleball.
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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