Pickleball has been around since 1965, but it has boomed in popularity in recent years. Now CBS is taking the sport primetime with their celebrity Pickleball tournament “Pickled”, coming November 17, and three familiar “The Voice” faces are joining the lineup.
“The Voice” advisors Dierks Bentley (season 21) and Jimmie Allen (season 22), along with “The Voice Australia” coach and global superstar Kelly Rowland, were announced as part of the cast in an Instagram post on the CBS page. Variety reports that the stars will not only be competing for bragging rights but also “a coveted ‘Colbert Cup’ and benefit the non-profit Comic Relief U.S.”
The rest of the “Pickled” cast includes Murray Bartlett, Jaime Camil, Will Ferrell, Max Greenfield, Luis Guzman, Phil Keoghan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tig Notaro, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, Aisha Tyler, and Emma Watson.
Dierks Bentley Has Been Playing Pickleball for Years
Though it is unclear exactly how much Pickleball experience Jimmie Allen and Kelly Rowland have, the two singers will have their work cut out for them, as Dierks Bentley has been playing the sport for years.
In October 2021, Bentley tweeted out some action photos from a Pickleball court with the caption “Playing a little bit of pre-show pickle ball in St. Louis tonight.” The country music singer shared a similar update to his Instagram in July 2022, swapping out St. Louis for Nevada.
Bentley shared with E! that Pickleball is an activity he likes to do with his band and crew while on tour, along with mountain biking. The singer is no stranger to different sports and is an avid mountain biker and fisherman. He even has a series of Instagram posts called “Cold Water Confessions” where he talks to his band and crew members while submerged in an ice bath.
Was Pickleball Named After the Creator’s Dog?
According to CBS Sunday Morning, Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, in Washington state, by two neighborhood fathers – Bill Bell and Joel Pritchard – looking for something to entertain their children. With only a badminton court, a plastic Wiffle ball, and two pieces of wood, the new sport was born.
“The ‘Pickles’ version of the naming is that Pickles [the inventor’s dog] would run around here in these bushes and grab the ball, so they named it after Pickles the dog,” Bainbridge Island local David McCallum recalls. Luke Burbank, the CBS host, is quick to clarify that there is speculation that the dog was born after the sport was invented, and thus named after the game.
The USA Pickleball website corroborates Burbank’s account, saying that their research shows the dog Pickles was born in 1968, three years after the invention of the sport. The website also credits McCallum’s father, Barney McCallum, as the third inventor of the sport, along with Bell and Pritchard. Barney began making paddles as the sport grew in popularity.
Pickleball, the “fastest growing sport in America”, according to CBS Sunday Morning, began to grow after its inventors began marketing the sport to school gym teachers. Slowly but surely, their strategy worked, and the game began spreading over the decades to retirement communities, YMCAs, and now a CBS primetime special. According to the USA Pickleball website, there are now “8,500 locations on the USA Pickleball’s Places2Play map”.
Burbank has an idea for why the game is becoming so popular, saying, “Fans of the game say the secret sauce of Pickleball is that anyone can learn the game, and start having fun, in 30 minutes.”
“Pickled” airs on November 17 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on CBS and will be available for live and on-demand streaming on Paramount+.