The lack of players in the United States and globally is a cause for a dying sport of racquetball. About 14 million people play racquetball worldwide, according to the International Racquetball Federation, which isn't all that much provided the amount to people that inhabit this world.
Racquetball lacks the exposure it needs to become a growing sport. There are tennis commercials to join the USTA and on top of that, you need to pay a monthly fee to stay a member. Racquetball doesn't have a membership fee to allow you to play in local tournaments; you just signed up and play. Back in the early 1980s and early '90s, racquetball was televised on ESPN; now it's rarely on the tennis channel. People of the younger generation have no idea what racquetball is, and is sad to see that. People also see racquetball as an old-man's sport, what snobby old rich people play.
But racquetball is the fastest ball-played sport on earth. The ball, at times, moves around 140 miles per hour, which at the highest level is shot at the height of 1 to 5 inches. On top of that, the player needs to pick up the ball before it bounces twice, so the player on average dives at least 35 to 50 times a match.
"I broke two fingers and my left wrist diving for a ball during the U.S. Open in Minnesota past two years ago," said Jimmy Lowe, an 18-time U.S. Open Gold medalist who practices at the Nu'uanu YMCA.
Also, because racquetball lacks exposure, sponsors aren't willing to spend money televising the pro tournaments. It's become a vicious cycle that will continue to turn if no one takes an initiative and breaks it. At this very moment, racquetball is played in the second tier of the Olympics, which is the Pan American Games.
"The major concerns of becoming an tier 1 Olympic sport is due to politics, exposure and monetary issues," said Robert Collins, a competitive racquetball player who entered in two national tournament events.
A new era in racquetball is evolving because the previous International Racquetball Tour, or IRT, commissioner Dave Negrete stepped down from his position, and now Jason Mannino a long time pro racquetball player is now the new commissioner.
Mannino's dream of how big he believes racquetball can be is a reality. His dream is comprised of having racquetball being televised on ESPN again, also having the U.S. Open purse amount around $1 million. It's a possible dream if people are willing to want racquetball to reach a mass audience and win more money at a pro level event.