Are you a fan of foosball? Do you enjoy playing this table game at home with a group of friends? Or maybe you go to the bar every weekend to play just to let off some steam. Whatever the case may be, you are now hooked on foosball, and the moment you grab those rods, it is impossible not to wake up your competitive spirit.
Foosball is more than a simple table game. Today, it is played both casually and on a professional level. The interesting thing is, this game has a rich history and has had plenty of ups and downs down the road through time. So, who invented foosball and how it became the way it is today?
Who Invented Foosball?
Foosball has a very interesting history. Similar tabletop games have been recorded as far as the 1890s. It is believed that the first models served as a stepping-stone for the version of foosball we know today.
The origins of foosball, however, date back to the 1920s, the moment the first patent was issued in 1921 in the UK. It is very difficult to know for sure who invented foosball, but Harold Searles Thornton is believed to have created it. He submitted his application for a patent on October 14th and succeeded two years later on November 1st, 1923.
The Source of Inspiration for Harold
At that time, football was the center of attention. Millions of people were drawn to this sport, but Harold, the person who invented foosball, was inspired and fascinated with the actual football game and decided to turn it into a miniature version that people can enjoy.
The idea for a rectangular table covered up on each side came from a box of matches. Since the game looked so much like football, Harold decided to keep the name, but give it a slight twist, which is how he came up with the name “Foosball” for his latest creation.
The first porotypes were a lot of bulkier and less portable than they are today. Many of them were made of hardwood.
In 1937, Alejandro Finisterre created his own version of foosball. This is the exact same version as the one we use today. It’s a portable and convenient ideal for everyday use.
When Did Foosball Get to America?
Foosball became very popular in Europe, but it wasn’t until 1962 that the game was finally brought to America. Lawrence Patterson decided to take this gamble and bring foosball to the unexpecting American public, which is why he is considered the founding father of foosball in the region.
But, for the product to be widely accepted on the American market, Lawrence had to make numerous adjustments. He was importing the game from Germany, Bavaria, with his own unique design changes.
He sold more than 4,000 pieces the same year he brought them in. In the following years, this game became the most popular thing to have, with hundreds, if not thousands of people purchasing at least one table at home.
The 70s was considered the “golden time” for foosball. However, Lawrence wasn’t satisfied with the outcome and didn’t have enough resources to support the business.
He tried to advertise the game table to the youth in the 60s and 70s, but it simply wasn’t catching on as much as he had hoped it would. In 1971, this type of marketing became unprofitable, which cost Lawrence his business. But, he still remains the first person to bring foosball to America successfully.
When Did Foosball Lose Fame?
It seemed that Lawrence was right. A couple of years later, in the 1980s, the future for foosball didn’t look so bright. With the release of Pac-Man, the world’s most popular video game, foosball quickly dropped in fame.
People were less interested in paying to play foosball at bars; instead, they would go to arcades and spend hundreds of dollars on the newly released video game. After all, it took less effort to play it, and people could enjoy it on their own. It was the demise for this popular table game until 20 years later when foosball started to get promoted once again.
When Was Foosball Recognized as a Professional Sport?
In the 1950s, people started playing this game competitively. But, there was one thing missing, there wasn’t anyone back then that would coordinate these efforts to make a real competition.
For many years, it was difficult to form an organization that would be in charge of foosball competitions. Countries were bickering with one another, which made it almost impossible to plan anything for the near future.
Finally, by the late 90s, the world was ready to work together. Different federations promoted the various play styles in foosball, and soon, they started working together to organize one federation that would be in charge of this sport.
In 2002, the ITSF or International Table Soccer Federation was organized. This is a non-profit association that organizes foosball tournaments today. Their goal is to promote competitive foosball matches and inspire those interested in tightening their play. The organization created new rules and brought the game to every country in the world.
Today, the foosball you know and love is famous in countless countries. There are people who own this table game and play it casually from time to time and those who play it as a professional sport. Even though video games took the attention away from foosball for a couple of years, this table game has regained its former glory and thrives in tournaments all across the globe.