Watch CBS News

Pickleball takes center stage in South Florida with inaugural "Pickle Games Miami"

"Pickle Games Miami" served up fun over the weekend
"Pickle Games Miami" served up fun over the weekend 02:06

MIAMI — Pickleball took center stage in South Florida this weekend with the inaugural "Pickle Games Miami."

It was Saturday and Sunday at the Miami Marine Stadium, where thousands headed out to enjoy the two-day festival.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. And this weekend, Miami was home to — what's billed as — the largest pickleball festival in the world.

"It exceeded my expectations for people here," said Pickle Games co-founder Steve Suarez. "I think we have close to 5,000 people for a first-year event on day one."

About 100 pickleball courts were set up at the stadium, hosting players at all levels.

"It's the only sport where people will just go out of their way, there's no, like, economic classes, it doesn't matter where you come from," said professional pickleball player Ryan Sherry. "I've seen friends of mine who literally won't leave their golf country club because the course is inferior to theirs, but they'll drive an hour to go play at the public pickleball courts."

Despite being a pro, Sherry said the game is something for everyone.

"I can go out here, I know people, I can go out here with any single person out here, we can have a good time," he said. "I don't care if you're a former tennis player, you're a runway model, you're a 75-year-old grandma. We can all go out and have a good time."

On Friday, CBS News Miami's Eliott Rodriguez picked up a paddle and played... and asked the tough questions:

"Now there's a stereotype about pickleball being for older people, maybe people my age. Is that true or is that a myth?"

"I think it's definitely a myth," answered pickleball pro Hannah Johns. "With the advent of the Pro Tour, you're seeing young people get really interested in watching the best play, and that in turn inspires them and also to go on and be great at pickleball."

Johns is with the PPA Tour. She said the fastest-growing demographic for the game is 18 to 35-year-olds, and that she expects huge growth.

"There's no ceiling for pickleball because it is for everyone -- it can go as far as it wants to go," Johns said. "We're going to see it in the Olympics; we're going to see it as a collegiate sport; we're going to see people across the world playing pickleball and continuing to play from birth to death."

The organizers of Pickle Games Miami hope to make the event an annual occurrence.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.