Did you know that there are 20 million racquetball players worldwide and 3.5 million in the United States? That doesen’t sound unpopular, doesen’t it? Well, it isn’t, but racquetball certainly isn’t either what it used to be. What happened to racquetball?
Racquetball had its peak popularity in the 80s. During the 90s, racquetball’s popularity started to decline as racquetball courts took a lot of space compared to paying customers; courts were turned to fitness centers for higher demand and more popular racket sport alternatives.
In addition, the 80s was a turning point in television technology as they started to have better colors, frame rates, and more channels. This created a high demand for more visually appealing and popular sports such as tennis. Racquetball was too high-paced and dull to look at in its small court, so it was slowly pushed away.
There are many things to know about racquetball and its fall out of popularity. That’s why I want to explain it more in-depth, to stick with me, and you will learn why.
- Why Is Racquetball Not Popular Anymore?
- How Many People Plays Racquetball Regularly?
- Why Is Squash More Popular Than Racquetball?
- Why Is Racquetball Not In the Olympics?
- My Favorite Racquetball Equipment
Why Is Racquetball Not Popular Anymore?
As I shortly revealed, racquetball isn’t as popular as it used to be for many reasons. You can find the main reasons below right after the picture of racquetball searches in Google from 2004 to the present day. As you can see, the trend has declined and still is.
1. Increased demand in fitness
At the same time, when racquetball was trending well, the fitness boom lifted its head in the United States, changing everything. As the trend is still alive today, you probably know that fitness is one of the biggest industries in the world.
Many people became obsessed or interested in looking and feeling good through fitness such as gyms, aerobic studios, and general fitness centers.
This trend was bigger than racquetball, which resulted in changes. These changes meant that racquetball courts were taken down or changed into fitness centers, making it less possible for people to practice racquetball.
Also, the profits, size, and location of the racquetball courts were connected to fitness, which takes us to the next section.
2. Small profits compared to court size
Think about it. Racket is played as singles (1v1) or doubles (2v2), and the court fees weren’t and aren’t today expensive. This made the profits small as well.
Now, imagine a room full of fitness bicycles, yoga mats, gym equipment, and you name it. The number of people that the same area can serve now is multiplied by a long shot, often with higher prices. Racquetball simply isn’t as profitable as a business as fitness.
In addition, racquetball is an indoor sport, which takes a lot of space that could be used more profitably. Hence, another part and reason of racquetball started its decline.
3. More popular racket sport alternatives
If you click the logo on this very site at the top, you will be given the possibility to browse content about tennis, table tennis, badminton, and squash that are more popular than racquetball.
Those are the competitors and relatives of racquetball, where racquetball was derived from.
There are many reasons why the other sports are more popular than racquetball, such as some of them are Olympic sports, it doesen’t look as intimidating, they are more visually appealing, and you name it.
When people choose to start a racquet sport, it is often one of the mentioned ones than racquetball, and that’s just the way it is. Even I personally prefer at least table tennis and badminton, and tennis over racquetball.
4. Lack of interest in television
Television has been a major influence in everything since it was invented. The effect also was one of the reasons what altered the racquetball’s popularity course.
This was caused because, in the 80s, televisions and the technology behind them saw big growth, which made people look at more visually appealing things.
This considered sports as everything else, and let’s face it; racquetball isn’t the most visually appealing sport of all sports and not even racket sports.
Sports such as tennis, table tennis, and badminton are more fun, exciting, and appealing to watch out of television in my opinion and many others. Also, all of the mentioned are Olympic sports which always boosts the popularity of the sports, leaving racquetball under their shade.
5. Generational differences
As I mentioned, racquetball had its peak in the 80s. This means that people that are middle-aged now know and appreciate sports the most.
This leaves many youngsters and young adults out where trends often spread the most. This is one of the reasons why racquetball is mostly played by middle-aged people. Racquetball was a big sport in their youth, unlike in the modern days.
6. Future promise
Many people want to be professional athletes, especially in the United States.
When it comes to single sports such as racquetball, the odds are already against your favor. In one of my articles, I went through how much professional racquetball players make, and that’s one of the reasons people who want to be a professional simply don’t look even at the direction of racquetball.
According to SimplyHired, the average earnings of a professional racquetball player is $58,116, which isn’t a decent amount of money. However, when compared to other professional athlete salaries, it isn’t that much.
7. Reduced growth opportunities today
As of today, when you take all the other reasons to account, it is no wonder that racquetball isn’t as popular anymore. Racquetball on tv is limited, there is a shortage of racquetball gyms, more enticing sports are available, it’s harder to find racquetball partners, and the earning potential is limited.
It’s very difficult for a sport to rise to its former glory when pushed to a declining trend. Yet, only the future will show us what racquetball has awaiting for us!
How Many People Plays Racquetball Regularly?
There are over 20 million people worldwide playing racquetball regularly. In the United States, where racquetball is the most popular, there are over 3.5 active racquetball players, followed by Bolivia and Canada.
Even though racquetball isn’t as popular as it was in the 80s and every day closer to that period, it’s still not unpopular, and you can easily find racquetball courts.
DailyRacquetball.com has a great page to find all the known places and racquetball courts from different states and regional maps. If you are struggling to find one, take a look at their page!
Why Is Squash More Popular Than Racquetball?
According to Google, squash is more popular than racquetball. There are 20 million both squash and racquetball players worldwide. However, there are 3.5million racquetball players in the US and only a 1.1million squash players. Yet, squash court gets slightly more searches in the US than racquetball.
This leads us to believe that squash is more popular than racquetball worldwide, and squash players are more active in the sport than racquetball players, even tho there are more racquetball players in the United States.
Below you can find a worldwide search for squash and racquetball courts from the past five years.
Why Is Racquetball Not In the Olympics?
Racquetball is not in the Olympics because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only includes popular sports that go over a certain popularity threshold. Racquetball doesen’t reach those requirements, which is why it isn’t currently included in the Olympics.
This doesen’t mean that it is so in the future as things can change rather quickly, especially in the modern world where trends spread like wildfire.
How can racquetball become an Olympic sport, you ask? Well, the nation that hosts the Olympics will conduct a vote that will or will not include a sport into the Olympic sports. The other nations will, of course, need to accept this vote.
As racquetball lacks popularity in other countries than the United States, it is likely that if racquetball had a nomination, it would be when the United States hosts the Olympics. Until that time, it would be best that racquetball would get more popularity to secure its position if and when the time comes.
If you want to learn more about the whole subject, I recommend reading my in-depth article about it!
My Favorite Racquetball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here you can find my favorite racquetball equipment that I love and think you could like too.
- Racket: My favorite racquetball racket is the HEAD Intelligence. This racket is implemented with technology that makes the string fibers stiff quicker, which increases power. Also, it reduces vibrations to the handle as well. This racket is from the heavy end, which further increases the power, and that’s the way I like it!
- Racquetballs: Penn Ultra-Blue racquetballs are among the most commonly used racquetballs of all time, and there is a reason for that. These balls fit all skill levels, and as I’m only a hobbyist, these balls are the best choice for me. Also, I love the blue color.
- Racquetball shoes: The proper shoes are the second most important piece of equipment after your racket. ASICS Men’s 4 Court Shoes are perfect for racquetball because of the softer gum rubber soles and reliable support throughout the shoe. Also, I love the breathability of these shoes. On the conside, the lashes are quite short but manageable.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.