There is a saying when America sneezes the worldcatches a cold we have that written here because we like that quote so is that a u quote did thatdid you come up with that quote I I didn’t come up okay yes I well that’s an that is an epicquote that’s an epic quote the very facets of what makes pickleball such a a good sport such apopular sport to play are as true here in America as as they are anywhere in the world I I thinkit’s going to make some people sit up and say Ah that’s what they’ve been doing all right youguys no gamma they just came out with their new Airbender paddle being able to change your paddleis a GameChanger with the new gamma air bender with a variable weighted endc caps and zoronshockbuster gel inserts you can tailor your paddle to fit your game perfectly that’s right zoronshockbuster gel inserts adapt on a fly and reduce.

Harmful vibrations for smoother play get your airbender today and use code dink 10 for 10% off your purchase on gamas sports.com that’s all caps dinkone0 for 10% off your purchase at gamas sports.com everybody’s going to want the zoron shockbustergel inserts so go get yours the new air bender paddle from gamma yeah I’m all right I think we’rewe’re recording yeah pull your mic up dude please there we go uh we’ve got Tom web AP CMO he’s outin the lobby so we’ll bring him in soon but we got a few topics to cover just you and me before uh wewe bring him in um but uh yeah all right so first things first we want people to leave us voicemailsuh for next week so we won’t do any voicemails today but next week we have and the good thingabout having him on is I’ll finally figure out how to pronounce his name Jia Martinez yeah yeah it’sfeels like you’re just bastardizing the name by.

Saying J but like he introduces himself as J okayall right um cool so we’ll have him on and uh so leave voicemails for him uh the other thing is ifyou want to review paddles we’ll give you a bunch of free paddles and you’ll just review paddles forus uh if that sounds interesting email the dink team he.com uh and then lastly we’ve got a livegiveaway with Franklin right now which is uh you can find it at giveaway. thedp pickleball.comFranklin or go to like our Instagram by we’ll have it in the show notes um and uh first placegets an FS tour limited edition bundle Dynasty or Temple paddle plus a magic carbon eraser anda paddle cover paddle cover very cool um and nine runner-ups so there’s 10 total winners uh youcan choose between a dynasty or Tempo FS tour paddle so that’s giveaway. thedp pickleball.comFranklin and lastly congratulations Zane thanks.

This wasn’t on the agenda before just now but it’skind of spoiled when I’m looking at the script but uh appreciate it 20,000 YouTube subscribers wewon Believe It or Not podcast of the year uh it’s crazy how we pull our own audience and win I loveit it’s it’s the best uh and we won’t say how much we won by after pulling our own audience but wedid win a win’s a win yeah we’ll we’ll actually we’ll go through the percentag second uh youalso won most influential voice congratulations on that and you were third in fan favorite oobehind I think Anna brigh and Tyson McGuffin I can’t believe I didn’t get Player of the Year welllisten I thought bunch of big accomplishments got to get him a gift right oh boy is it the pickleball box I I want a pickle ball box the dink dot shop for the pickle ball box the best pickle ballsubscription but no that’s not what it is I got.

You a signed Hat by me says sick to zann congrats20K Subs po of the Year influential voice and Fan Favorite parenthesis third so now you finallyhave something autographed from me this is this is legit this is sweet I I do like it congrats20,000 Subs pot of the year it’s dated that’s nice today influential voice fan favorite I love it andmy signatures you put on eBay if you want this is giving this is giving when I was at that OrlandoMagic game and I just went up to Joe Engles and gave him a signed hat you did yeah you don’tyou’ve never seen this clip no uhuh Jamie clip it yeah there it was we were at the the magic gamebecause it was pickall night at the Magic game and the magic owners own the Orlando squeeze and uhme and Joe angles are just homies and we were out on the court like throwing stuff to the fansand whatnot and uh I had one extra hat obviously.

Always have a Sharpie ready in case I got a signstuff in case I’m mobbed by the crowd recognized all the time and I was like you know what this6’1 Australian guy standing here on the court all sweaty looks like he wants a hat from me yeahand Ryan actually told me like a week ago he still got it over in his uh over in his locker that’she’s got the Orlando squeeze hat that’s actually signed by Zay so you got to watch all the likepostgame interviews and locker room and see if you can spot that o good call um but yeah all right sodink awards they’re done the results are in so we already talked about two of them podcast of theyear I mean there’s no way we don’t get accused of cooking the books on this one so we mightuh we’re at least publishing the percentages but over 6,000 people voted so you can do the mathon that but pickle pod had 19.5% King of the Court.

17% bionas pickleball 11.6 6% didn’t see that onecoming good stuff uh It Feels Right big audience yeah he because he does all that instructionalcontent he actually has built quite a YouTube channel yeah I think he’s got almost 100K Subson YouTube right yeah so Prime no it’s not Prime Time pickle ball anymore it was rebuilt it yeahthat’s a whole whole bit of drama he’s at 57,000 Subs I’m actually going to go I’m going to go onhis his pod uh in a couple weeks over there in Arizona nice in case you guys didn’t have enoughof me yeah I’ll say you’re I mean you’re very good relative to other pros at just keeping your namein the mix you’re all over the place I appreciate the relative to other Pros way to qualify that onewell point being other pros need to step up their game not you’re not doing a good job anywayuh let’s see what were so James ignit show.

Was at 88.8% which I thought was uh a surprise Ilike the Pod but I didn’t know um yeah I’m not I don’t think he really does the anymore does hedoes he the PO anymore I don’t know I watched one the other day and he basically just like talksat the camera but some of it’s pretty interesting uh and then tennis sucks was 8.2% I would haveput tennis sucks higher yeah I thought it would have been higher uh pickleball Studio not even noteven out there yeah they’re just a rounding error damn yeah what happened Chris couldn’t handle thecompetition influential voice of the year you were number one by far 39.2% Jimmy Miller came in at18.5% Joe Braverman 13.5 then Travis rat Meer and Tim Parks I thought Tim would have been higher butmaybe I’m just biased because we’ve had him on a pod and stuff like that um yeah he made he finallymade a name for himself when he came on our pod.

The finance bro yeah this is the Hedge that titlewas an instant classic hedge fund manager pulling the strings behind professional pickle ball alltime that was an all-timer for sure I bet like he definitely got made fun of for that but alsosneaky was like that’s awesome um okay so Selkirk Rising town I just thought this was interestingum so jaia who will be on next week uh won by a decent margin at 34.6% followed by Gabe tardioJudith Castillo Tina pnik that’s an interesting one to me like I feel like Gabe tardio has beenin that conversation I remember I wrote a dink article like two years ago of like who’s going tobreak out in 2021 it was like Gabriel tardio it’s like it’s it’s strange that he’s still in thatsort of category like the other people have done it like Hayden’s done it Hayden’s sort of brokenthrough I mean you got to give some love to Rachel.

Roacher on here I think she’s got to be up theresorry John I’ll say it to your face next week but like she’s made more of a name for herself I thinkthan no maybe not not necessarily I think they’re probably pretty close her and J yeah Tina Judithyeah they’re both playing very well deserve to be on that list I don’t know yeah I don’t know umunbelievable recount the people have spoken uh and then of course congratulations to alof I know hiskids were um you know very focused on what this result would be they really wanted their dad towin and uh he won 28% followed by D gingr 24.9% for senior men’s Player of the Year congrats Allafront of the Pod at a boy um we’ll publish the rest of the results so you can see them out thereuh I think by the end of this week they’ll be up on the the dpck wall.com um that’s fun I like thatwe should have debated some of these a little bit.

More on the Pod I feel like we got busy and didn’tdid we ever end up going through our our votes on those for some of them for a few differentcategories yeah I like that I like it a lot um right like best on air personality I was like Mattmanasse should be on there and he texted me like I got snubbed and I’m like yeah and then I sent himthe clip for me being like he got snubbed on his pot and I was like I agree yeah if only you knewsomebody at the dink that could like do something about that um let’s see so we had a really coolevent in Vegas for the Super Bowl Larry Fitzgerald late entry his game’s coming along but he alsowas with Patrick cocka who is a pretty solid Pro I think he does the Arizona pickleball Leaguedoes some MPS some PPA uh and they defeated Casey Patterson and Tyler Wagner in the finals so yeahit’s a really cool uh roster of people so we had.

Larry Fitzgerald marcelis Wy Golden Tate Cliff AALJenna Bandy this rapper J who didn’t seem like he ever picked up a pickle ball paddle before andhe ended up on Championship court on the stream uh so that was good Kelly DOD Casey Patterson wasout there of course Logan Lyle are you kidding TV Joseph benovitz of UFC and uh a bunch of othercool people so had PESA out there Conor Garnett Matt manasse Patrick Kaka and uh yeah it was justa cool event we’ll try and do something like that next year for for the Super Bowl did you did youcheck some of that out who which which of these celebrities would you say had the best game likewas was Larry the best lab out there or was he carried by Patrick I mean cuz like I hear goldenmy guy over at uh he plays with the pro XR now I hear he’s playing pretty well Golden’s Got GameCliff plays a ton I mean he’s been training Cliff.

AAL has been training with Ty McGuffin um Casey’sobviously very strong I mean we almost considered him like a pro uh because he’s like a five oishplayer and so J was the worst like yeah who’s the who’s the second worst I don’t know I’m not sayingJ was the worst don’t quote me on that yeah no you didn’t say that he was the worst but he said itlooked like it was the first time he ever picked up a paddle so that’s like some arguably yeahpotentially a worst statement um but yeah then everybody went to hakkasan VIP to see tigga whichis just really funny to me the idea of a much like pickle ball people at a Tiga concert um but yeahokay all right we’ve got uh some merger updates so have you been hearing anything before I runthrough some General updates what’s the latest that you’ve heard I don’t not much I’m going to beexcited to hear the updates I’m GNA be I’ll react.

To it live well it sounds like it’s still kindof like the same issues festering um but the I guess most concerning thing for the MLP side is alot of the players are starting to get weary and thinking of walking all together uh looking atwhat other options they have they’re wondering like Okay so is this newco in violation of thenew contracts considering I have not been paid yet and is there a way out of those contractsright I’m not saying that people are actively trying to get out but I think they’re startingto ask could I get out if I wanted to because this situation does not seem to be progressingand I need to start getting paid one way or or another so I think one of the biggest concerns isthat players are just going to start walking and equally concerning is a handful of the top playershave quote understandings with the PPA that if.

Things don’t work out they’ll have a home at thePPA right um so just uncertainty around all that um I think Jill B on her podcast said somethinginteresting Dundon essentially wants to start his own rating system and as we know the duper portionof this deal there is duper Equity involved in this deal um would directly conflict with thatright but that bring brings up the larger idea that I think is interesting and something I’vebeen watching which is pickleball Inc essentially wants to own pickle ball right pickleball Inc ispickleball Central the PPA and then pickleball tournaments.com pickleball brackets so theywant to own the software the amateur tournaments the pro circuit the Ecom right they’ve got thebiggest retailer in pickleball Central they want to according to jilbe release their own ratingsystem they’ve got pickleball.com now doing a of.

Media it’s like there’s nowhere they aren’t andthen they did the deal with the Pickler which is infrastructure facilities uh and it sounds likethey just want to own pickle ball from all angles yeah it’s a pickle ball conglomerate basically ifthat’s a possibility I mean it kind of makes sense if you have some some money and you really believein the the feature of the sport like you might as well have your your fingers in a little bit of ofeverything if as long as you can do them all well right like you know as long as you can executeon all those different things so um that’s just what pickle ball needed another rating systemperfect um yeah I don’t have any thoughts there other than just kind of makes sense if you’re likelooking so let’s just let’s say you’re talking to a sponsor right and you’re saying I’m the numberX pickle ball player in the world in singles and.

X and doubles like what pickle ball rating inyour mind is the most reliable and accurate from a maybe not rating rankings standpoint wellfirst I’m if I’m talking to a sponsor I’m going to introduce myself as the most influential voiceof 2023 host the number one uh host of the number one podcast number three fan favorite but um Iwould say like honestly rankings right now are I think are somewhat important although flawed uhvery flawed because they are uh certain players have played more tournaments like there’s therankings are slightly flawed but in theory good I think that’s what you probably that’s what youwant at the end of the day is is rankings um if you’re going to go if you’re G to say your you’rerating like I mean it’s I think duper is still the absolutely the the best like it’s it’s far betterthan to my knowledge utr um I guess I shouldn’t.

Necessarily say that I don’t know I don’t knowit maybe enough to make that direct comparison um but like I think that duper is has its flaws butis generally accurate as long as you have enough data in the system there are some there are someoutliers in some cases we like yeah that person’s probably like not what they’re rated in duperbut like for the vast majority of people pretty accurate yeah so I mean if that’s the question Iwould say duper yeah but like there’s no there’s no Universal ranking that people actually considerthe most accurate record of like who are the top players in the world right because you’ve got thePPA rankings you’ve got the AP rankings you’ve got the rating systems but I think the there’s oneranking system out there and it’s so outdated like something yeah the pickle ball Global oneyeah that was that was the first ranking system.

Actually so that was the first one it used to beaccurate CU I used to look at that and pickleball tournaments.com used to be accurate but I don’tthink they even updated anymore because you used to be able to get points from either AP or PPAyeah now PPA is only going to count your PPA points and from what I understand it’s likebeen something like 18 months of tournaments not necessarily calendar year MH so like there’ssome some weird stuff with those rankings but I think eventually it’ll probably just just be youknow the the PPA rankings but that’s not going to take into account the people that are playingAP right so so somebody like Andre deu would just get screw no respect yeah right um but yeah okayso last thing on that topic is it it still does sound like though that it’s not the PPA that’sholding us up it’s a large majority of the issue.

Is MLP owner in fighting and and uh fracturedbeliefs as far as could the MLP be viable as a standalone moving forward or does this deal needto go through for MLP to even survive and the owners seem to be pretty split on that and so MLPside seems to be the one that’s really holding up the uh the deal at this point but other than thatno real updates but March 1st I I think is the new deadline they’re trying to work toward I don’tknow we know well yeah deadlines don’t exactly mean anything we’ll find out but okay so afterDesert Ridge some interesting um vocalizations by players about certain aspects of the game soTyson McGuffin had tweeted out his thoughts on a number of different things and then later deletedthose tweets un tweeted or untweet them an ex him he exed him and uh so he had one that said oneserve rule needs to go two Vulcan ball needs to.

Go three progression draw needs to stay and thenhe tagged the PPA tour he followed it up with my body was so trashed after 10 individual games ofsingles I was 60 to 7 70% at most during mix day not fair to fans my mixed partner or myselfthat players are all beat up and suffering no way this third 34y old dad can handle days likethat progression draws is the answer um and then Christian Alshon made a video which to me on thesurface was him criticizing the new ball but in a way where he wouldn’t get penalized for it so hesaid there was some plausible deniability right he sort of like did some head scratches and somepauses and um essentially said I’m going to try and be unbiased on whether I like or dislike ituh um referring to the Vulcan ball all I’ll say is twice they gave me a brand new ball in thewarm-up it was wobbly and I had to change it.

Out so he got the ball and it was already wobblywhich is interesting uh and then at the start of the second game it was wobbly and we had to changeit out so that’s a problem but once you get away from the fact that the ball is wobbly at thestart if it is 50/50 chance I think it’s a good ball I don’t know don’t quote me on that so yeahthey’re I mean if a ball stays round and doesn’t break it’s pretty decent Ball but those are acouple big big ifs um yeah I don’t think you know look I think the Vulcan ball is bad just justand just because it’s it’s not round but like you know here’s the thing we’ll adjust they’ll adjustright I’m sure this is not the final iteration of the of the ball um and like they’re going to takeinto account this this feedback I’m sure they’re working on some of this stuff and also likelook you know we can complain but from what we.

Understand he huge deal with the with the PPA likethat’s you know do you do you want a a fraction of your of your pay or do you want more of theselike type of sponsorships right this is this is money going directly from almost Vulcan to Prolevel players Pockets eight 8 million Buck deal is what we heard no like two and a half milliontwo and half sure whatever it is like millions of dollars that’s that’s money much needed so likeyeah yeah I think they’ll make improvements I think they’re I’m sure they’re taking into accountsome of the feedback it’s not a great ball at the moment but like when it is round it’s it playspretty well until it goes a little too soft or out of round MH so yeah um my only other pointon that was it’s just interesting to me so we talked about this Pat Smith was suspended forDesert Ridge because at the Masters of PPA tour.

Cancelled the bronze medal matches and uh sortof said there were injuries uh and withdraws that caused the cancellation and then Pat Smithtweeted or I think it was a Facebook post just an update all caps no one withdrew um and sortof said I mean he just kind of indicated that PPA tour was is not being truthful he’s suspendedfor an entire tournament meanwhile you’ve got you know Tyson and Alshon criticizing the ball if youread the comments because we posted those tweets on Instagram there’s a bunch of Pros in there likeagreeing with them right so to what degree can you be outspoken and to what degree can you not andI don’t know it just I don’t know either but I’m sure as hell going to find out yeah right um butanyway so I mean it’s not a direct criticism I mean that’s that’s sort of like a gray area you’resort of you’re somewhat criticizing a sponsor but.

You’re not CR criticizing the you know PPA itselfPPA right yeah and yeah so slightly slightly different um same sort of idea but uh yeah I dofeel for how do you feel for Pat mhm so I think he’s is he’ll never talk about it again he justwants to move on from it so we’ll talk about it hash freeat we’ll keep it alive free Pat perfectuh it’s also hilarious to me that you’re wearing a hat with my signature on it cuz that that waslike sarcastic signature I’m never taking it off this is a sarcastic wearing of it yeah okay umbring in let’s do it all right uh let’s go grab him but do you think you could beat Maddy picklesin a no that boy plays how many times a day I mean he’s playing for like four hours a day yeah butyou’ve seen You’ seen him play right he’s also he’s also one of the best people in the world he’sone of the nicest people alive so absolutely which.

Is why we’re going to rip him we’re starting butjust so you know that’s how we’re going to open this I think we gota we got to shout out Mat Mattypickles one way or another love that man uh cool all right well do we do like a an intro whileI was gone or we no we should probably redo it I don’t know or we can we’ll start with and thenwe’ll we’ll roll from there but we’ve got uh Tom Webb here CMO of the AP tour uh you came fromMajor League pickleball actually but you have quite an interesting track record with pretty bigorganizations in the World of Sports just to name a few Manchester United small little football clubout and uh out in England uh Red Bull you did some stuff with F1 I believe you did some work withAustin FC as well right yes uh the US Olympic ski team then you were at Major League pick aalland now you’re at the AP yeah did I nail did.

I nail that yeah pretty much there’s a couple ofothers uh Polo Ralph Lauren I worked for them back in the day when they got into tennis uh did somework for Emirates Airline when they were getting into kind of small sponsorship deals namingrights and that kind of thing but yeah that’s that pretty much brings us up to speed so how didyou find Pickle bar Major League Pickle bar was entry point but how’d that come to be pickle ballfound me and I’m obviously extremely pleased that it did um been working for Austin FC here in thisamazing City of Austin uh my wife and I had two small children came into our world and at whichpoint I thought do I really want to be doing a full MLS season of travel and home games and awaygames and all of the time I’d be away from from home and I was lucky enough to get offered anotherjob in the sports betting space so kind of moved.

Out of that um out of Austin FC into somethingit gave me a little bit more time at home and then somebody called me and said um what do youknow about pickle ball and I said not very much no uh and they said do you know Steve [__] andI said don’t know him don’t never heard of the guy uh and an introduction was made and a couple ofmeetings happened and I helped Steve and his team get get MLP off the ground back in 21 so that wasmy yeah first for into pickup got it and did you do anything were you working between Major Leaguepickleball and AP or was it right from MLP to AP no I got hired by um a company this is a veryspecific sector um who work in geolocation so a company based out of Dubai um who are very activenow in the sports bedding space where GE location is an important part of how you regulate beddingMH um so uh they offered me a job uh with some.

Decent benefits that made me have a conversationuh with the MLP folks about where I wanted to go um so was with them for a while and then AP cameknocking and um uh the opportunity came up and uh I really wanted to get back into this sport umI’m often asked why particularly by friends of mine back in England who don’t really yet stillunderstand the kind of scale of pickle ball why I’m involved in this sport um and one one ofthe things I tell them is you know how often in anyone’s career are you going to have theopportunity to be part of something that is um this big this quickly and be able to help in somesmall way shape its its identity and hopefully shape its future so uh yeah the the opportunityto go and join the AP team was too good to pass up and I’ve loved every second of it since I’vebeen there got it okay and when did that uh when.

Did that start when did you start officiallywith uh with ap so I joined them in December 2022 um had a few um Journeys up to Chicago to goand meet the team um in their offices up there uh and then we kicked off the season uh the 23 seasonin January so straight into it then um uh as I say I mean a great opportunity partly because the APpeople are really just good people um at at its heart there’s a crew there who believe very firmlyin in integrity and uh good morals and good ethics and they want to do the right thing by the sportand by the people who play the sport so I was kind of attracted to that ethos to begin with oneof the things I asked them when um I started the job was I I want to bring the standards thatI’m used to from the types of sport like Formula 1 like major league soccer like the Olympics I wantto bring those standards to pickall um because I.

Think it’s important that we give players of yourstature uh the pros out there but also amateurs and recck players I think it’s it’s right thatwe give them the same sort of standards that you would expect of an elite Olympian or a you knowan internationally known Formula 1 driver and the op team said we’ll give you what you wantnot without um any kind of budget restrictions there are some obviously pretty tight controls onwhat we do but um I’m given pretty free reign with an amazing team uh to be able to create goodcontent uh to to do good story storytelling to engage people at the right time and that’sum you know that’s a real blessing to be able to do that cool yeah no it’s uh you know beforewe got on air we were talking about like I’ve known Ken for forever we were talking about howI was playing wck play with Ken up up in the uh.

In the North Chicago suburbs before AP was evena a thing and like we’ve always had a had a solid relationship and yeah dude’s just a he’s a goodguy he is a good guy he um you know he started the first ever Pro pickable Tour back in 2019 the APyou know was the original tour that very quickly obviously broadened out into a pro and amateurtour and at its heart what Ken’s always wanted to do is provide entry points into the sportfor players of all abilities all levels and he’s always championed within our event planningand the way that we go through our operational decisions he is very very keen that we make surethat every player has a really good experience um you know whether you are a first-time amateurwho’s coming to a tournament or whether you’re a Season Pro or whether you’re a Champions and werslevel player who is coming into the sport um it’s.

Really important to us um that that everybodyhas a really positive experience uh so there’s some kind of basic things that we put in placewith that you know referees for every match you know good space between courts sorry is that onthe amateur side too referees for every match I don’t know that yeah so we we’re making sure thateverybody’s getting really well looked after um and and that’s something that Ken’s championedsince day one so yeah he’s good people and and at his heart he he really has every players’s bestinterests um in in in in mind yeah it was uh it was interesting so we didn’t cross paths a ton wewe mentioned that we had had met over in uh at the first MLP but last year I wasn’t playing in the inthe AP uh tournaments at the beginning of the year it seemed like AP was certainly sort of pullingback they stopped trying to compete with the with.

The contracts that were being put together fromthe MLP PPA side but towards the end of last year you guys said we’re doing away with appearancefees but if you take a look at the the prize money now like if you have a buy and are winning a firstround match you’re ending up with a thousand bucks in that event so it does seem like it’s sort ofquickly pretty quickly rebounded from that early 2023 sort of uh pullback what would you think sayabout that I it’s a fascinating subject and it’s really kind of at the heart of how we go about ourbusiness every day you you use the word compete and and I think that’s an important word for forme to talk a little bit about because we don’t believe we’re in competition with anybody mainlybecause we’re so focused on what we’re doing um we made some decisions at the start of last yearuh to to put ourselves on a really solid business.

Footing and we’ve got some very bright people whoare helping us understand where the business is going to go short medium and longterm um you knowwe use a lot of data to help guide our business decisions about where we want to diversify wherewe want to put our attention where we’re putting resource and budget into so start of last yearyeah we made some decisions about prize money um and about appearance fees uh that that partlyenabled us to get through um you know what was a relatively tough time for the sport overall uhwe also at the time made a decision to reduce the amount of live streaming that we were doing um andthose decisions have paid dividends because as you say we’re now in a position where we have enormousfields of people coming into the pro game in our tournaments you know we’re running pre-qualifiersfor hundreds of players uh before we even get.

Into the qualifiers to get into the main drawuh We’ve doubled the prize money for eight of our tour events this year and tripled it for fourmore you know we’ve added a team competition with $100,000 prize purse for each of those five stopsthat we’ll do um we have increased the amount of prize money that we’re paying to players over50 and over 60 you know we just did a tournament specifically for them down at pona in DaytonaBeach um and this year we’ve been able to put ourselves in a position where we’re now increasinglive streaming back to three days uh we’re going to announce pretty shortly an additional linearbroadcast partner into uh our Partnerships with CBS and ESPN which is going to give us evenmore exposure on that linear platform um and and all of this is rooted in frankly just kind ofgood business about being sensible with where you.

Put your resources um and but really with a verystrong focus on making sure as I said earlier that every player is having a good experience so thepros who are playing in our tournaments um are now getting access to as you say decent prize money umand they’re also getting access now to increased exposure through the marketing platforms and thebroadcast platforms that we’re creating um so we don’t really see that as kind of competing withanybody um if we spend our time worrying about what other entities are doing we’d be losing focuson what we’re doing with our business um and that would detract from our our ability to do our jobproperly um to really service the best interests of players of all abilities cool okay I’m going togive you one tip do like this motion when you’re turning so you’re still talking to the mic seewhat I’m saying I will technique okay took me a.

While to get to it I still screwed up sometimesthank you um just so people can hear you but uh all right you said a bunch of things that Iactually I kind of want to drill down on sure um the first is so you mentioned it was a tough timefor pickle ball what what are you referring to I think I think when the player contract discussionsand the whole situation started in 2023 I I think the sport overall um does not benefit from thosesort of internal struggles MH um ultimately you know pickle ball is such a wildly successfulsport you know our data um our research through ugar tells us you know nearly 50 million adultAmericans have picked up a pickle ball paddle in the last 12 months uh and the V vast majority ofthose players 97% of them from our research can’t name a single Pro Player so it feels like there’skind of internal battles within the industry which.

Focus people attentions on something whichshould be positive but actually is negative um and and if it detracts from your ability tobe able to create platforms for great players to be able to play then I think it’s pulling awayfrom the the overall Sports ability to be able to continue to grow um and to be able to ultimatelyfor the Pro game to match the the uh growth rate of the recreational game that stat about how manypeople in America know who Pro players are puts the onus on me and people in my sort of positionto continue to invest time money and people into creating better storytelling around playerslike zanen uh and around the pro players who really do set the standard for the sport uh and Ithink every time that we are moving away from the focus on that sort of piece of our job I thinkit’s it’s it’s holding the sport back sure so.

What are some of those things that you are doingand you are focusing on to build a platform very good question so um I mentioned the increase inin linear and in live streaming broadcast um I I think that’s important but it’s also importantto make sure that we’re doing that that at the right standard so the ap’s relationship withum interport the sports marketing agency up in Chicago um gives us access to a side questionreally quick is interport the majority owner of AP yes that’s okay um so the relationshipwe have with them gives us access to people people particularly in the production side who areinvolved with some of the biggest sports events in this country they’re working on things like finalfour they’re working for the PGA um uh they bring production um broadcast production standardsto our organization that um frankly are kind.

Of unmatched in the Sports World in this countryso that’s one piece of it um from my side um it’s about employing really good storytellers um whowe then unleash with pretty simple instructions uh to be able to create good storytellingaround pros and around our events um and and to some extent around amateurs that means havinggood videographers it means having really good photographers it means having social people whoreally know how to use social to engage the right audiences at the right time it means having goodstorytellers good writers who can write the right stories for us so that we are covering every kindof base on the marketing um uh within the kind of marketing pallet to ensure that we are applyingas I said the kind of content standards I’m used to from Formula 1 or from Major League Soccerto a sportlight pickable right okay one thing.

Is you mentioned that 3% let’s call the the 3%the junkies right the people like me who want to tune in the streams all the time one of theissues I think with the AP especially in a time when you know there’s infighting with theseother organizations and you sort of have this opportunity potentially pull ahead in in some waysbut those 3% were having a tough time watching ball cuz it wasn’t on YouTube anymore right Imyself was struggling to watch AP and you know if you just kind of listen to the community therewere frustrations about that is that something that’s going to change or and why was thedecision made to pull it off YouTube and go with these other platforms that might not be readilyaccessible to the most engaged core fan base which is that 3% so it’s worth noting um uh we we havea partnership with ESPN um which means our among.

Our other broadcast Partners um which means we’reon ESPN plus when we’re on ESPN when we’re on CBS Sports Network we are on YouTube so we continueto to have um shows on that channel um the the uh the the cost of doing live stream to the standardsthat we think is important that we meet um is is something that um was a relatively tough decisionfor us to to talk about cutting back um on the amount of live streaming that we were doing but wedid a um a pretty deep dive into what the numbers were looking like in terms of audience versus whatit was costing us to be able to live stream as in the past as was four days for every tournamentuh so we made that decision to cut back to to two days we’ve now increased that to three dayssometimes on YouTube sometimes on those um on ESPN plus the majority of the broadcasts actuallyare on uh on YouTube um not only live but also.

In replays um but I I talk about productionquality um there are there’s a lot of pickle bable out there that is shot on One camera so onewe call it the highend Zone camera um behind the Baseline which is just looking down onto onto thecourt and giving you that kind of you know aerial view um it’s important when we’re talking aboutbuilding the right platforms to Showcase Elite Pros in particular that we’re applying franklyhigher standards of broadcast production to that that product so that we are not getting peoplewho are new to the sport coming into it and saying it it looks like a lowquality broadcastum the audience numbers in real terms for the live stream have not grown particularly well umparticularly when you on YouTube on YouTube yeah yeah uh been pretty stagnant and the audiencenumbers for the the linear products we are um.

Uh our research from neelson tells us across allof the entities who are on on linear platforms our our our audience numbers are all pretty muchthe same so you’ll hear some pretty wild numbers out there from people about how many people aretuning into this event or that that event um uh a lot of those numbers um may be slightly massagedwe were we were talking about that Thomas has been calling BS on the Nationals number since Nationalswell all pretty much anybody who’s put something on one of the major broadcast networks has comeup with and said millions of people watch like but did they and I just feel like you know Idon’t know enough to be able to drill down and figure out what exactly is massaged but it doesn’tseem right it doesn’t seem right it isn’t right um that there is a there is a growing audience thereare people who are tuning in particularly when uh.

You’re putting product out onto um really goodplatforms that have um well- engaged audiences already but the the the I think some of whatyou’re hearing ing is a need for some people to um perhaps suggest that the sport is growing at thepro level faster than it really is why why is that a necess necessity it’s because you need to beable to tell sponsors that there are more people coming to to watch your product right um as I saythe reality is that the audience figures um are pretty much the same across all of us um and it isone of the reasons why um as part of our kind of growth plans we are looking at diversificationand adding business verticals into what we’re doing um so that we while we continue to improvethe product on the AP tour and on our Signature Events um and in NextGen and in our Internationalportfolio uh that we are also starting to grow.

Into other areas of the pickleball world becausethat is the way you grow a long-term sustainable business right so we’ll talk about quick questionyeah go ahead you are the most qualified person that we’ve ever had on to answer this questionquestion why don’t people seem to watch pickle ball on streams and TV and what does pickle ballneed to do to convert these 50 million people to actual consumers of the professional game uh I’mI’m flattered that you would call me qualified to answer that I thought you’re going to you’remore qualified than I am I mean this is your competition right here so I I think there’sthere’s two answers for that one is if you take the traditional Sports approach um whichis is um uh that you build audience you attract sponsors um and you um uh and you sell ticketsto your events and you sell U merchandise and.

You do licensing deals um ultimately as you growaudience that’s going to attract TV rights money which then help helps to kind of supercharge thegrowth of of that Sports entity the problem with that model one of the problems with that model isyou’re competing in an incredibly tough space you know if you take your average American SportsFan they probably have an allegiance to an NFL team they probably have an allegiance to a collegefootball team they may be an NBA fan they may be an MLB fan now here in Austin for example you’rean MLs fan if you’re a sports fan uh in you may now be a Formula 1 fan through drive to surviveyou may have been kind of given access to that uh there are a multiple uh there are a multitude ofother sports um that that are competing for your eyeballs and your for your attention uh on top ofthat you’ve got TV you’ve got movies you’ve got.

Podcasts you’ve got music you’ve got games you’vegot all of the forms of entertainment which are competing for the attention for that audience soif you take the traditional sports model and you expect audience to come to it you I think aregoing to be facing a very long uphill battle because you’re not really doing anything to tellthe this the the the wider audience why this is such a compelling sport the other way of doing itI think which is really interesting um is where you engage the pickle ball audience themselvesmillions of people and you start to have a direct relationship with those individuals and you dripfeed Pro Player content into those conversations with them that’s a very kind of the like workingwith them through pickle ball developing the relationship because they bought a paddle throughpickle ball Superstore and then in the pickleball.

Superstore newsletter saying like hey look we alsohave professional stuff that that’s exactly you Thomas you do it with the dink newsletter uh thedink newsletter is a really good example of you have some Pro stuff in there you have some productstuff you have some tips and tricks you have all sorts of varied content you’re not just pushingPro content at your audience I suspect if you did your engagement rates would drop pretty quickly umso there’s kind of two two approaches to it one is like almost like top down um which is let’s do atraditional sports model and with the the audience will come because we expect it to the other isI guess you could kind of call it Grassroots up build relationship with the the wreck player withthe Grassroots players give them access to Pro content that makes them say wow that’s that’s areal step up from what I can do and then you will.

Build an audience who will come to the sportlong term I think the reality also should be faced that perhaps there is a ceiling a naturalceiling to what the audience for pro pickle ball could ever be um I think uh Olympic aspirationsthat the sport has will be a real accelerator of growth of the pro game uh and I think that asthe sport starts to develop more of a real Olympic identity and the elements that are required forthat for example better regulation you know more governance structures um doping structures all ofthe things that the ioc will demand I think given Olympic status I think you will see more peoplecoming to it but um both of these are frankly long-term approaches um I I think that the latterapproach the kind of Grassroots up um is one that is better designed for long-term success okayperfect very interesting yeah we have not had.

Anybody who has been has had your backgroundto be able to sort of explain that we’ve we’ve you know had some of our theories we get a littlebit more technical on you know maybe it’s camera angles or maybe we need to speed up the game orslow down the game or whatever but in the end of the day like that’s not the ultimate approachthat that matters it’s more of the like engage with the people dangle the pro content in front ofthem and if they want to consume some of it it’s there for them you You’ just explained what peoplespend an awfully long time in the marketing world trying to to to understand as the marketing funnelyou know that that as a as starts out very broad with awareness it starts to narrow into educationand then it gets down to the to the kind of tip where it’s about engagement with people look atany Automotive manufacturers ad advertising and.

Marketing programming and that’s the way that theyoperate you know that from years out of somebody buying a car they’re telling you this is a brandthat you like and we’re are kind of the the people that you should be trusting the point where youget down to come and buy a car is is way down that funnel uh and and I think pickleball has toapply exactly the same thinking just because it kind of exploded out of the pandemic just becausethere was suddenly an interest from investors and from a whole range of other people in the Pro endof the game it doesn’t mean that those returns are immediately going to be there but again itis why uh an organization like ours at the AP why we are taking a long-term approach to this andbuilding a business um that that has really strong foundations um for long-term success got it okayuh let’s talk about global pickle ball I we’ve.

Talked a few times on this pod in the newsletterwe’ve written articles that the AP is quietly EXP expanding into all these new markets across theworld and different continents what’s the thinking there what’s the strategy how do you see thatprogressing I know you guys just had the India open for example which looked to be insane yeah Iwasn’t there so I’m not sure I could um categorize it as insane But Ken hman just came back from thatum and said he had a wonderful time uh I think he ate the spiciest rice he’d ever tried which cameas quite a surprise to him I think yeah don’t let him go to the Thailand open yeah um so there is asaying this is perhaps a slightly negative way of describing um kind of one of the facets of of thestrategy there is a saying when America sneezes the world catches a cold we have that writtenhere because we like that quote so is that a u.

Quote did that did you come up with that quote II didn’t come up with oh okay yes I well that’s an that is an epic quote that’s an epic quotebut it’s also it’s rather negative if you think about it in in in those terms because it’s nota particularly happy thing not for us we’re good like maybe I mean born and raised in in Milwaukeeand you’re you’re Michigan like we’re cool with it like may maybe it’s maybe it’s like slightlyderogatory to someone from lck Texas like yourself but born and raised B raised go agies no that’snot agies I don’t know what something like that I don’t know either um you just offended a millionsof people every Texas A&M or Tech or whatever fan they are that’s okay hey I’m British living inAustin every time I open my mouth I think I offend people in this in this city um so um that quote isis an interesting one because um it is absolutely.

True uh if you think about the the the growth ofAmerican entertainment culture really starting after the second world war you know with thekind of the birth of the teenager here in America teenagers didn’t really exist until it was kindof invented here in the 50s and then suddenly you know rock and roll is starting to go around theworld Blues is starting to go around the world and that’s been the basis and you know of every kindof entertainment explosion worldwide ever since um the same is true for pickleball um and the Veryfacets of what makes pickleball such a a good sport such a popular sport to play uh are as truehere in America as as they are anywhere in the world so good example of that uh the English openum a couple of years ago they had I think nearly 300 players playing last year had over a thousandplayers playing this year I think they could have.

Double that playing in the English open thisyear um and and those are people at the top of the kind of pyramid of playing because those arelike hardcore amateurs and Pros people who want to go and compete in a really serious tournamentbelow that are thousands of people who are playing recreationally um and the reason they’re doing itis because they have fun so again our data tells us we did some research with yugov into why peopleplay pickle ball 76% of all pickle ball players tell us that the reason they do so is because theyhave fun playing the game um it puts a smile on people’s faces and that’s as true here in Americaas it is in India in Australia in the UK in China in Sweden anywhere where it’s growing so we madea decision um quite a while ago that we wanted to support the international growth of pickle ball umbecause we think it’s important that as stewards.

The sport that we’re bringing the same standardsthat we believe are important to our events to those tournaments that are starting to come upum around the rest of the world so when Ken for example goes over to India um and and goes with abunch of pro players to go and kind of help them get their feet on the ground and go and competein a tournament like that he’s also spending time with young players um at that event as he did inAustralia mentoring them giving them some insight into what it takes to be a pro player um the bestplayers in the world um are probably not haven’t even picked up a paddle yet these are kids who aregoing to come through the system who are going to start playing because they’re given opportunitiesby local event organizers who are taking advice guidance and help from us uh to be able to Stagetournaments that then set the right standard for.

How play should be done um uh in differentcountries around the world so we’re really proud of our of our International reach uh wethink it’s going to open up Pathways for players um uh to come back and compete over here um moreand more often and similarly create opportunities for players from here to go and competeinternationally um and earn money as the sport continues to grow um in in all those differentmarkets what do you think are the biggest markets outside of the US for for pickleball well I meanChina’s the obvious one um we announced uh an ESPN China distribution deal last year so um our eventsare broadcast to potential audience of billions of people back to that subject that you you mentionedearlier and and that broadcast deal by the way is to broadcast US events in China not to build apro circuit in China and broadcast no it’s it’s.

The first step in that awareness piece um you haveto put the product out there so that people can tune into it and see it before I think you startthen laying the foundations on the ground of of of how the sport grows um China obviously has a veryproud racket Sports history both in t tennis and now in tennis as well so it feels like that’sa kind of natural fit for it um India now the biggest population on the planet um has embracedthe sport um uh like with a great passion and as you say the images and the video and the TheStills that we’ve seen from India and the reports that we’ve had from Ken from Andre uh from Meganryler and the other players who were out there is that it was just a wild event I mean really goodatmosphere yeah um everything that you want from pickle bable um so I I think China is the obviousone I think um India is is is another obvious one.

Australia has embraced it really fast uh and whenAussies get into sport they they really seriously get into sport as an Englishman uh I hate sayingthat because we have a deep-seated rivalry with the Australians for everything um I think Europe’san interesting one because there is some kind of talk about how we how peal competes with paddle orpadel depending on how you want to say it um out out in Europe um I actually think the two are verycomplimentary I feel like um you know the rise the the rising tide float to boat um I think um themore people who are picking up a racket paddle bat whatever it is of any description to playa sport like this the more they are then open to playing other sports so uh you know padellhas more structural needs when you’re building a court it’s obviously harder more expensive tobuild a padel court than it is to build a picker.

Ball court so I think that we will continue to seepretty rapid growth in Europe as well I we think the rest of the world is maybe two years behindAmerica um and and I think that’s going to start catching up pretty quickly MH so for the Indiaopen for example it was powered by AP you own and operate that or are you a supporter of it like howdoes that relationship look and then how does that look in these other markets as well I know youhave relationships with pickall England I think pick up all Sweden I know there was somethingabout Spain and Australia and obviously China now but what what does that structure look likeso um we don’t own or operate those events for them we are partners for them um and if you thinkabout the value that we can provide within the resource limits that we have because ultimatelyum it comes back to how much time and budget can.

We afford to put into something like this whenwe have a very core focus on the other bits of business that we’re we’re involved with so um ina sense there’s a kind of consultancy role to it but then we’re also backing that up by sendingpeople out there to go and help advise um and help them grow and develop as quickly as possibleum so we have a very active role with all of those organizations um and as our relationships withthem grow over the coming years uh I think you’ll see more and more of U of of us having integratedinput into what they’re doing got it okay and then so I assume you have kind of a short list of of uhadditional countries that you want to go into next what are some of those countries like what arewhere are you seeing the most potential um I there is obviously there are European countries um whichare really now starting to fly um I I wouldn’t.

Be surprised to see um some some additions fromperhaps some of the Western European nations that we currently don’t have uh announced Partnershipswith um I think that South America is going to be real hot bed as well um there are some veryinteresting discussions uh in central Cal and South America I think across the entire kind ofLatino Community I think there’s some some amazing opportunity there um I I also think Africa um youcannot ignore the the opportunity to grow sport uh in Africa um all too often uh Africa is is ignoredby too many sports um at their Peril because uh there is so much growth potential um in incountries like that in in in continents like that and I think the the the great thing that pickallhas going for is is how easy it is to set up and start playing um you know we have um really quitekind of small resource needs to get a court up and.

Running uh and that enables a very quick adoptionof the sport in countries where they want to get involved uh and and we are there to help guidethem um and help them uh achieve their immediate goals um as we help them grow got it okay whatdo you think of the top 10 countries let’s go top five top five countries for pickleball not uhus not included hang on for what currently right now in terms of playing figures yep uh wellIndia has to be in the top did you say five or 10 five go for five go and put them in in yourperceived order of of amount of people playing oh very good question um so well England’s probablytop do you want me to do the like like list than one to five yes yes go for it you’re going to beheld to this have you got the numbers in front of you so I have one basis for the numbers it’s notthe there’s no way to get a true read on it but.

So did you make these numbers up yeah let’snot get into the details okay why don’t you just answer the question and we have 2.6 millionpeople watching this okay okay yeah right so you did make the numbers up let’s so let’s Okay um uhI would say top five are probably uh Australia in fourth um England in third I would say India insecond I would say China in first and so fifth would be maybe Spain or Sweden okay all right sothis is not uh I mean you you can’t say this is the sole source of Truth here but I reached outto the duper guys just to see like what their user demographics look like um and so it’s oneus obviously two Canada three three the UK four Australia five Mexico six India uh so 10 is Chinais 10th but I think this is outdated because they said that China recently uh became fifth mostnow obviously this is dependent on where duber.

Is allocating its resources um but it’s at leastone uh basis for for some insight I think there’s an also an important Point here which is um that’smaybe a recognition of how many people have signed up for rating um this is kind of what I was backto saying about about the recreational player I think there are a lot of players out there who arejust doing it to have fun and they’re not maybe really particularly worried about a rating um youknow there’s a lot of people out there who go to a place like a chicken and pickle or in the futurewill go to a venue like the fort um our official HQ down in in Fort laale who are just going togo and have some fun um you know these are going to be casual players who want go and hang outwith friends and family um and maybe feel a bit Bamboozled by you know ratings software platformssure um those platforms are incredibly important.

As well uh that’s why we have a partnership withutr um because we think that the the technological might that they’re going to bring and theyalready bringing to pickle bable um is going to be a real asset to the sport long term but Ithink there are a lot of people out there who are just playing because they have a bit of fun withit and maybe they’re not that interested right now in kind of getting into the serious level whereyou’re actually kind of recording ratings mhm so I just pulled up my last 28 days of YouTube viewsbecause this could be a good and I think on your channel this could be a good thing too becausewe the the viewing is somewhat Downstream from from the participation right so just on my channelfor what it’s worth 71% of My Views over the last month came from the United States 9.3 from India6.2 from Canada feel like we forgot Canada I feel.

Like a lot of Canadians even though there’s onlya couple of them they really like it up there UK is 1% Australia 1% followed by Singapore andPhilippines at half a percent so My Views went us India Canada UK Australia Singapore obviouslyno uh China my videos are banned in China oh uh I think those numbers directly correlate with withthe top five I gave seeing as I can’t remember the top five that I gave in that order I’m justgoing to say that I think that’s as valid as the top five that we’ve been looking up yeah Ithink the only one that we didn’t have in here was was Sweden so for what it’s worth maybe theyjust don’t care about learning about pickle ball stuff they just want to watch it I don’t knowthey’re very cool people they proba don’t like to be Tau um I I should therefore um give verysincere apologies to the good people of Canada for.

Not thinking about can there we go unbelievableyeah I don’t know if I were Canadian I would hold a grudge against you and oh they already I oncemanaged to send at the Montreal Formula 1 grand prix I managed to send a press release out thattalked about um the country of Canadia uh so that went out to a database of about 1500 uh Sportsjournalists worldwide uh and led to some immediate threats from Canadians saying do you know how tospell our country’s name so um I do love Montreal you don’t want to piss off those Canadians they’rean angry people I don’t I don’t like upsetting anybody don’t mess with don’t mess with Canadianshey you say that in Texas don’t mess with this place um yeah very interesting I’m I’m superexcited about the the growth of it internationally and uh it is exciting to see that the the AmericanPro tours paying some uh attention to to the to.

The stuff overseas I got a I got a fascinatingmessage from my sister-in-law back in England um actually last night she said uh her kids schoolis investing money in some new sports facilities um and uh they are considering pickle ball in herkids school so that is in a relatively small town in the southeast of England um where a year agothey would not have been having that conversation um and now it is very much part of the of theum the day-to-day vernacular over there so I think that’s really good kind of anecdotal butreally good evidence of of how fast it’s growing sure all right switch gears a little bit here soum thinking about like and we’ve touched on it a little bit but the potential merger of the PPAand MLP all these different contract disputes with Pro players how have you guys been thinking aboutPro Talent potentially signing them to exclusive.

Or some other type of agreement how do you thinkabout Pro Talent generally and aligning them with the AP tour so the first thing I want to say is umum we don’t really spend any time at all worrying about what’s going on you know in other parts ofthis industry because um we have too much going on in our own world and we want to make sure thatwe’re getting that right across everything that we’re doing um we have a very very strong beliefin inclusivity over exclusivity um we think it’s important that players uh of all levels haveoptions of where to play when to play uh and and to provide them with the opport Unity toearn without limitations on how and when they can earn uh that that is one of the reasonswhy a lot of our events have the word open on them because they are open events um and and thatphilosophy is why we’re seeing we we believe such.

Rapid growth in the participation numbers in ourtournaments um creating like exclusive contracts for players is not something that we want to dowe want to be able to invest our uh resources into creating bigger and better platforms for them soyou will see enhanced CC1 looking feel this year uh Championship Court one uh around our our mainuh uh tour events you will see a diversification of the types of of events that we’re running sothe signature events that I talked about kind of specialist audience events we did a collegiateteams championship in the first week of January uh We’ve announced a women’s only Championshipthat we’re going to be doing later this year we just did the first tournament for for players50 and 60 plus for Champions and masters with AARP uh and we think that that is uh the wayto continue to support the growth of the game.

Is creating really good opportunities for playersof all levels to come in at the pro level uh the reason one of the reasons we think we’re seeingso much a rapid increase in the number of Pros who are trying to get into our tour events is becausewe’ve taken this sensible smart approach uh to to continue to do within what we are able to do withwithin budget to be able to provide them with a really good experience at our tournaments so as Isaid earlier we’re now seeing hundreds of players coming in for pre-qualifiers um we’re we’reactually having to find other venues outside of our main tour venues so that we can stage uhqualifying event pre-qualifying events before we even get into the qualifier uh a as we continueto increase prize purses that will create more opportunities for more players to come and compcompete or want to come and compete um and as we.

Continue to invest in marketing and in productionwe’re creating better opportunities to Showcase their talents to a wider audience so um I I thinkthat is a really strong held belief that we have um that that we should be giving opportunities andoptions for players uh to play where they want and when they want and to continue to increase inuh in in the prize money that they’re able to win at our tournaments yeah I mean like if you’rea decent enough Pro player you can you can win a a round or two in AP and make some very good verygood money like that’s not the case everywhere you sometimes you can’t get into the other tournamentslike yeah it’s uh for me i’ if I was an upand cominging player like it would certainly beenticing right like you know I can understand the Allure of wanting to play a PPA tournament whereyou win a couple rounds you get to play against.

Ben and Colin but like I can also understand thethe Allure of of winning a couple of rounds and getting some very nice prize money as a resultof it and you know having you know maybe a uh more potential for sort of growth and and brandrecognition right where if you come through the ranks at the the AP you can be promoted as one ofthe the top players on AP whereas you know that’s likely more difficult to do in a quick fashion ata at the PPA right because they have they do have their players that they have invested in they’regoing to continue to invest in and are really really good right like it’s going to be hard toDethrone somebody like like Ben if you’re a a newcomer um so I I certainly understand the uh therationale behind wanting to play if you’re one of those upand cominging players yeah we we’re alsoum I I think our platform creates unpredictability.

Which I think is is important part of sportI think people like tuning into Sport and and having um an opportunity to watch real competitionwhere they don’t know who the winner is going to be so I think that’s a that’s a good opportunityfor players to come into our tournaments uh and find themselves playing different people um andand having an opportunity to go and win um I also think that the sport is is evolving um at atsuch a rapid pace and I I would never profess to be um technically skilled off or have the kind oftactical insights to be able to dissect uh the way Pro matches take place um like you would Zane orThomas you would um or or the kind of commentators he paid me to say that um or the commentators thatyou know we have working on our production but um I think one of the things that I found fascinatingis players who come into our tournaments who we.

Didn’t know who do well in our tournamentsand then go and play in other tournaments and do equally well in those tourn tournamentstoo which kind of tells me that that the level of competition is actually really quite high butalso um is open to new talent coming through um and establishing themselves very quickly so umI I think that there are as I said earlier there are um a whole there’s a whole new generation oftalent coming through who we don’t even know who those players are yet some of them haven’t evenpicked up a paddle yet but there are uh there is a generation of players coming through now someof them playing in our next gen tournaments for example who um are pure pickable you know they’venever played tennis uh they’ve grown up with this game um they’ve been given the opportunity to earnsome money gain some recognition um in uh within.

The AP and that’s a really important part of of ofour long-term philosophy is giving opportunities for players like that to continue to grow anddevelop yeah you’ve got one in in San Antonio this weekend right we do we do yeah chicken andpickle down in San Antonio um it’s a really good environment it’s a really good atmosphere downthere and and back to what we were saying about how do we uh Elevate those players I I have a teamof people from the Marketing Group who are down there who are going to shoot video shoot stillphotos who are going to do a bunch of Storytelling around that event um which is a pretty significantinvestment but it’s really important that we’re creating great content that helps tell that storyuh as well as it is um for for us at the main AP tour events Yeah we actually had uh I’ve beenplaying last couple days with Elliot ship who’s uh.

From from Arkansas down here to play at at NextGenhe’s been playing over at the the lab with us and he played baseball before this he’s 16 he’s beenplaying pickle ball for a couple years no tennis and yeah this the when NextGen first came out likemaybe two years ago you might not like this but it was pretty trash the kids were not that good twoyears ago right like but now it’s like dang that kid is NextGen like he’s like hanging in there andwinning games against me sinola Stefan obviously Carlos he’s probably better than Carlos but likethe level from NextGen and I say some of these things mostly just to be inflammatory but thelevel of of NextGen has increased so much over the 18 months two years that it’s been that it’sbeen there right like it’s pretty impressive to see and it’s pretty impressive to see how theseJunior players play differently from the people.

That have grown up with that tennis backgroundyeah it’s um I think that that that Evolution and the growth in in that program um is largelydown to to Ken homan’s um dedication to it um I I I will say watch this space because we havesome more news coming pretty soon about how that program is going to expand um and how quicklywe’re going to start growing that and in the Collegiate space as well but I think one of thethings um you may have seen this um we took that nextg team up to the uh up to Park City Utah tothe US Olympic ski and snowboard training facility up there and spent some time with them puttingthem through a full training program within an Olympic um facility um up in the up in altitudein in Utah that’s the sort of thing that we have to do to continue to increase the capabilitiesof these players and to continue to um Elevate.

Their status um I I think it’s necessary for usto invest in that sort of program because that’s what’s going to help develop them as athletesthat’s what’s improving their game so um again that’s a kind of um you know that’s a sign ofwhere we’re putting resource effort and energy to continue to grow the game at multiple levelslove it yeah yeah nextg is exciting you do get to see a ton of new names and names that you’re goingto see for years to come yeah what’s the outlook on College pickle ball uh hugely exciting for usso the Collegiate championships that we did up in Westfield Indiana um was uh incredibly wellreceived um we uh were inundated with requests from teams who wanted to take part uh we had areally good strength strong field uh when we uh staged the tournament and obviously putting thaton CBS um the final products of that are on linear.

Broadcast uh again I think is an important part ofkind of showing um our um our strong focus on that piece of the game so we’re going to be announcingsome um expansion of the Collegiate program through the course of this year um uh there is Oobvious interest from the college space now that there is a you know rapid growth in things likescholarships being offered things like facilities available to to players um at different schoolsaround the country uh and and um it’s an important part of of our long-term plan do you work directlywith any of these universities colleges or is this mostly like working with the club manager andfiguring out how to get them all out to an event it’s a little bit of both um there is some of theformer so we are starting to now work directly with some schools uh on how we can integrate themI guess the other part of my question is are these.

Schools starting to show interest and um you knowkind of make the first move and kind of come to you guys yes that is starting to happen um and Ithink when we um take the wraps off the the next big part of our Collegiate program I think that’sgoing to accelerate that very quickly what’s the next big part of the collegate program watch thisspace okay all right that’s good uh are you sure you don’t want to divulge anything I uh my life isnot worth it there there’ll be somebody watching this who will be very angry if I okay dve thatright now um so I mean depending I’m not sure what you can and cannot say but is the idea tosort of do these Regional College tournaments and then get all the winners out to a nationalchampionship you you one could surmise that yeah yes right shout out Shan and Dan who will bewatching this and probably asking me not to say.

Anything else at this point yeah okay all right sobig plans there I mean I know duper is growing the Collegiate space I’m seeing all sorts of InterestI mean I think like our podcast out of all of our channels has the the youngest audience and hasa big audience of these these Collegiate players my little brother plays for the Michigan Clubpickleball team and it’s crazy to see like the the growth that’s happening there and across all thesedifferent clubs so it’s cool to see that pickle ball seems to be shedding that reputation as likethe jerryatric sport and is you know starting to get its hooks into you know younger playersI mean if you think about somebody in college maybe I think about my uh you know how cool I amtoo much but like in college I probably would have been like I’m not playing pickle ball like that’sa that’s like you know that’s a goofy thing I.

Don’t want to be looked at the kid playing pickleball but I I I don’t think it has that reputation anymore like I I think it’s sort of um Turned fromthe quirky sport to sort of this like new upand cominging exciting thing yeah I I I mentioned uhhow much uh investment we put into Data um and last year we did some more research to understandyou know who’s playing as I said earlier why they’re playing when and where uh the average ageof a pickle ball player per our research is now 34.8 um and the fastest growth is is in that 18 to25 year old category um it it it feels to me like we we crossed the Tipping Point of pickle ballbeing a kind of cultural phenomenon into being uh a almost cultural norm some point through lastyear I remember back in 2021 when uh we we were involved with launching MLP making phone calls topeople in the media World um about pickle ball and.

Kind of the first question was always what isthat we’re way past that point right obviously everybody everybody now in this country knowswhat the sport is then the challenge was you know it’s not an old person sport it is a sport foreverybody um and it’s rooted in in fun it’s rooted in people feeling good about themselves and aboutthe people around them and I think um now that we’re way past that point um you know where wherepeople are asking kind of basic questions about the sport it’s not surprising that it’s beingpicked up by people everywhere for some really really obvious reasons I mean it’s you know it’s avery good way of staying healthy it’s a very good way of um meeting new people and hanging out withfriends uh the amount of kind of anecdotal reports we get from people who say I used to go to the gymand run on a treadmill for for 45 minutes now I go.

And play pickle ball in my lunch break you knowthat that is becoming the norm so if that’s as true for somebody who is you know 18 19 2021 as itis for people in their 40s 50s 60s so um it’s also the reason why when I’m asked you know is pickablehere to stay I say absolutely because it’s got its foundation so deep into the kind of people’snormal lives um that that that that’s why I think it’s built for long-term success I Like It CoolZane you got anything else um yeah this has been on my mind for for this whole interview what didKen Herman serve iced tea at the Indian open no he did not serve I te at the Indian open and youknow that for a fact um I I don’t know that for a fact okay um but I I suspect there are I suspectthere are but I’m a PR guy at heart so I have to be very careful about how I state facts um it’s aninteresting point though because one of the things.

It talks about is the experience that people havewithin the AP yeah you are a p guy PR guy huh yeah yeah well you know back to the kind of biggersubject um is yeah I’ll do the classic um that’s a great question now let me tell you what I want totell you um it it’s uh it does speak to the kind of you know the fun and and the Collegiate notin the college sense but the kind of you know the family sense of fun that people have at eventswhen they’re playing pickleball um it was not surprising in the past to see Ken you know wantingto look after people if they needed some hydration some refreshment um Ken is way too busy these daysto be doing that unfortunately so yeah now we have other people who do that for him he’s got to stickto it for the memes just for the memes I I always loved it I thought it was entertaining yeah and itdoes speak to you know he’s very Hands-On like he.

Does he’s shaking hands with with everybody andanybody over at these tournaments and whatnot so I you know what I’m I’m biased obviouslybecause I work with Ken and uh I’m very proud to do so but I I think it’s important that peopleunderstand just how important he is to the sport of pickle ball uh as I said earlier you know in2019 he launched the AP he was the first person to kind of put his money where his mouth is andget these tournaments up and running um you know you you know you’ve known him a lot longer than Ihave you know how passionate he is how dedicated he is I don’t know when he sees home I genuinelyI mean the guy is constantly on the Move whether he’s down visiting uh you know the folks in FortLauderdale at the Fort and helping them get that that facility plan up and running whether he’sout at tournaments whether he’s scouting new.

Venues you know whether he’s just going to go andwatch people play so that he can go and help them um he he is an absolute force of nature um andwe’re very very lucky to have him um not just within the AP but within the sport overall MHwell yeah I mean I remember when I was running AP Academy like I was going back and forth withKen on on certain things and uh I would get an email from that guy at it did not matter whattime I’ve got emails from him at 5:00 a.m. I got emails from him at 1:00 a.m. like he’s always onthe go like he’s he’s pouring his heart and soul into it that’s for sure and I respect that so goodyou need somebody like that yeah absolutely yeah anything else you want to bring up any you want tobreak any news um I’ll touch on something which I can’t again go into huge detail about but umI think it’s it’s important that people keep.

An eye on um how our business is grow growingwe started and you introduced me as uh from the AP tour and I think it’s important that people uhare aware of the fact that the the association of pickleball players you know started out lifeas the association of pickable professionals operating tour events and now really the APis the kind of umbrella under which the tour sits under which NextGen sits under which eventsign events sit uh under which the international events that were’re involved with sit but thoseare all kind of events um we have a number of new initiatives that are going to see the light ofday in the coming weeks and months uh which are going to really reinforce what a lot of us havebeen working on alongside putting on these tour events um you know the AP is built for long-termsuccess um we we’re very lucky to have a very good.

Group of investors um and people who support whatwe’re doing um we have I I think it’s it’s not arrogant of me to say we have the best reputationuh of any event organizer um in pickable among the majority of players out there just look atthe the way that people talk about our events on social media during and after tournaments um andwe are going to be uh growing and diversifying um while staying very true to the core focus of thebusiness which is making sure that players from Elite pros at the heart of our tournaments rightthrough to those thousands of amateurs who are competing in what we in the events that we puton WE we’ve got some really exciting interesting developments to come I you know I’d love to to beback here uh you know in a year’s time when I can talk in detail about quite a lot of what we’ve gotcoming I I think it’s going to make some people.

Sit up and say Ah that’s what they’ve been doingyou know and and I’ve noticed some of the kind of speculation that you’ve been involved with forexample on Twitter X whatever it is we call it now um and on the Pod um and you know in in otherquarters we hear people kind of making assumptions sometimes about where we’re going and what we’redoing um and and we don’t have time to respond to all of those or to try and kind of educatebecause we’re just focused on on building this business but we got so many amazing things to comeI kind of wish that I could fast forward a year um I said that a year ago but I I kind of wish Icould fast forward a year so that we could maybe be hosting you down at the Fort um in this amazingfacility that that we we’re calling home down in the uh Zane and Thomas’s Wild West shootout heyyou want to start that conversation we’ll start.

That very quickly it’s going to be I mean that isgoing to be not really West but we we’ll still go for it doesn’t matter wild East shoot out um yeahso that that’s kind of it just you know I said watch this space earlier we’re we’re so excitedabout what’s coming cool all right that’s all I got Zan anything else no thanks for coming onappreciate it um this has been this has been a fun conversation it’s not you’re you’re somewhatlocal here to Austin so perfect yeah the accent doesn’t give that away but being here for 10 yearsso um and I have two little austinite children so yeah I consider myself an honory austinite andwhat type acccident do they have uh they watch too much Peppa Pig so they both have um one ofthem’s four one of three they say mommy instead of I’m not going to do the American accent umso they have this kind of weird hybrid English.

American accents which confuses all their friendsat school love it okay nice got it cool all right well thanks for coming on thank you uh in a yearfrom now bring you back on you can talk about all the all the developments but this was greatthat’s uh that’s pickle pod and as you guys know we’re sponsored by viori we wear it all thetime number one brand we’re the biggest fans of it you can get 20% off your first purchase at vi.comtheed dink V ri.com theed dink enjoy free shipping on any us orders over $75 and free returns go tovri.com Dink and discover the versatility of vori clothing I’m going Li
Tom Webb, the Chief Marketing Officer at the APP sits down with Thomas and Zane to share a little of what the APP has been building in the shadows.

From international events to college championships and establishing a new headquarters in FL, the APP has been quietly putting pieces in place. Their goal is to share their brand of pickleball with the world and lay the foundation for the next generation.

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Show Notes
0:00 Congrats to Zane
5:35 Dink Awards results and PickleBowl recap
12:27 Merger updates and rating system hold up
19:11 Players speak out after the Desert Ridge
24:35 Tom Webb from APP joins the pod
31:41 Not in competition with anyone
35:30 Pickleball’s internal struggles
39:11 Why pull back on streaming?
49:45 Going global, “When America sneezes…”
55:40 Top international markets
1:05:59 Preaching inclusivity over exclusivity
1:12:08 A whole new generation of talent coming
1:16:04 College pickleball taking off
1:21:25 Ken Herrmann keeping the Iced Tea vibes
1:25:20 Building under the APP umbrella