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Pickleball becomes official sport of Washington state

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill at the birthplace of the sport: Bainbridge Island.

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — Calling it a “great sport for all ages,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation naming pickleball the state’s official sport.

“Everyone play away,” said Inslee, after signing SB 5615.   

Surrounded by pickleball players, Inslee signed the bill in the backyard of the Bainbridge Island home where the game is credited with being invented in 1965.

Pickleball is thought to be the fastest-growing sport in the world.

”I can’t believe what it has become,” said Frank Pritchard.

It was complaints from a then-bored 13-year-old that prompted his father to invent the sport, said Pritchard.

He said his father, former Lt. Gov. Joel Pritchard, responded by saying, “When we were young we invented games.”

"Oh really," the younger Pritchard responded. "Why don't you invent a game then?"

Pritchard said his father and two friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, lowered the badminton net, made some paddles out of plywood and found an old whiffle ball for the kids to play with.

Pritchard died in 1997 after serving the state for decades in Olympia, and Washington D.C. as a U.S. Representative.

What would he think of the game being named the state sport?

“I think he’d be thrilled this game has given so much pleasure to so many people,” said Pritchard. “I think that would be a big deal.”

Pickleball joins a long list of official state symbols, including Palouse Falls as the state waterfall, the Columbian mammoth as the state fossil and the marmota olympus, also known as the Olympic marmot, as the state endemic mammal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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