On an asphalt slab in front of a wooded home, Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed into law a bill he said was three years in the making.

The bill Inslee signed, of course, was SB 5615, which made pickleball the official sport of Washington. Inslee was surrounded by pickleball paddles, community members and longtime pickleball fans. Even the CEO of USA Pickleball, Stu Upson, was in attendance.

The signing took place on the original home-based pickleball court (formerly a badminton court) on the shores of Bainbridge Island, where the game was conceived in 1965.

Inslee began by quoting the founding fathers, professing that all are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.

“Amongst those rights being the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of pickleball,” he said to a chuckling audience.

Played with a paddle and a plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball, pickleball has elements of tennis, badminton and pingpong.


The game is played on a court around the same size as a badminton court. But unlike tennis and badminton, players on each side must let the ball bounce once before volleys are allowed and a 7-foot-deep nonvolley zone called the “kitchen” stands in front of the players.

The game was invented one summer afternoon when Barney McCallum, Bill Bell and Joel McFee Pritchard were looking to entertain their kids and came up with the game using some spare athletic equipment. They named the game after Pritchard’s cocker spaniel, Pickles.

Pickleball began on Bainbridge Island in 1965 as a summertime diversion for bored kids and since has ballooned into a full-fledged sport for all ages

Since then, pickleball has become one of America’s fastest-growing sports with over 4 million players globally, a bimonthly magazine, weekly tournaments and a national championship held twice a year.

“The legislature intends to honor and recognize the Washingtonians who created, popularized and continue to enjoy this sport by designating pickleball the official sport of the state of Washington,” the bill states.

Pickleball joins the Western hemlock tree and the goldfinch as part of Washington’s official iconography.


According to Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, who sponsored the bill, Washington did not have an official state sport before this bill became law. Pickleball has been on his mind nonstop lately, he said.

“Every time I type ‘pick up’ in my phone, it automatically auto corrects to ‘pickleball,'” Lovick said at the signing.

Inslee praised the sport as one that can be played as singles or doubles and can be enjoyed by both the young and the old.

“This is a sport for everyone,” he said. “We took the humble cucumber. We made it into a pickle, and then we made it into the fastest-growing sport in the world today.”