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An Inside POV Exclusive on “The Business Boom of Pickleball”

By Allison Kraus
October 11, 2023

Aside from the occasional pop culture reference, or a jab at how the name “pickleball” seems rather silly, one of the first times I heard about pickleball in earnest was through my stepfather, a pickleball enthusiast. In fact, when I first told him about this upcoming POV video project, he sent me a pickleball paddle and a ball with instructions and a passionate urging to try the game for myself. As of this writing, I have yet to hit the court, but to my stepfather Howard, I promise that I will soon!

IIL Media’s POV series had just premiered its successful two-part special on artificial intelligence in professional and amateur athletics, produced by me and my colleague, Kristen Boornazian. I had been editing for IIL since 2022, and I was no stranger to putting together POV projects. Producing was a new challenge for me; I was grateful to be working alongside Kristen, who has produced POVs before and served as a great mentor and co-producer. After the premiere of our two-part POV, the Media team began to itch for more projects for IIL’s International Project Management Day (IPMD) Online Conference. With athletics still fresh in my mind, I volunteered to take an inside look at how pickleball, a 60-year-old sport, became the fastest growing sport in the country in the past three years. After some notes from our senior producer d.b. Roderick and some additional input from the team, “The Business Boom of Pickleball” was greenlit and ready to begin production.

Our first objective – and arguably our hardest one – was to find the appropriate subject matter experts (SMEs). My team and I curated a list of pickleball professionals and business experts and reached out to them one by one. At one point we were in contact with a Major League Pickleball (MLP) player, but scheduling conflicts ultimately hindered further collaboration. The business leaders we reached out to turned us down for similar reasons, but they all said one thing that I found a bit unusual: they hadn’t really heard of pickleball before! I was surprised; was pickleball really the boom we thought it was, or was that just a result of my generational knowledge? I consider myself a zillennial – I straddle the line between millennial and gen Z – and pickleball is a very popular sport with adults in and around my generation. Maybe we weren’t looking at the right demographic. So, we decided to pivot, and we looked locally.

The beauty of a bustling city like New York is that any new fad, activity, or trend flourishes in an urban environment. It didn’t take the team long at all to stumble upon NYC Pickleball, a relatively young organization dedicated to “pickleball courts, communities, and lessons in NYC” as stated on their website, www.nycpickleball.com. We sent out an inquiry, and we were introduced to Eric Ho, one of the founders. Eric was gracious enough to join us for a pre-screening Zoom, and we quickly realized that we had hit the SME jackpot. Not only was Eric’s career background exactly what we were looking for, but his wife and NYC Pickleball co-founder Ray Xiong also had expertise that perfectly set her up as a second SME. We pitched to them the POV, and they were more than happy to participate. They joined us in the studio in late September for an insightful and funny interview all about pickleball, starting a brand-new business, and keeping momentum using project management tools.

As we approach International Project Management Day, I feel confident that the IIL Media team has created a POV that truly complements the spirit of this conference. Even if you’ve never played pickleball before, or if this is your first-time hearing about the sport, you’ll gain valuable insight into starting and growing a business using project management tools, and you’ll learn a little bit about the sport along the way. And if we did our jobs correctly, maybe you’ll want to pick up a paddle and take a lesson with NYC Pickleball!

Allison Kraus

Allison Kraus is a video editor at IIL Media. She has produced and edited for high profile clients like The George and Barbara Bush Foundation, ESPN’s Andscape (formerly The Undefeated), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and MTVU. Her work has been distributed across platforms like Amazon Prime and Sportscenter, and has been shared by people like Kerry Washington, Santana Moss, and Domonique Foxworth.

Allison is also a musician and music educator. She has taught music/theater lessons at institutions like Atlantic Theater Company and Amas Theatre, and is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop, where she is studying musical theatre composition. Allison is a proud alumna of American University’s School of Communication and has received media production training from the Film & TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.

IIL’s International Project Management Day Online Conference opens on November 2, 2023, with streaming access through February 5, 2024. Learn more and register here.

IIL Media’s Point of View (POV) is a mini-documentary video reflecting the unique perspective and talents of team members.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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