Overview: Discover the exciting history of foosball and learn why it’s so popular among elders and youngsters alike.
Foosball is a fun game, typically pitting one player or team against another. Similar to soccer (or “football” as it’s known in many countries!), this tabletop game field includes two goals, and the objective is to be the first team to score five times on your opponent. Each competitor or team has access to four rods, and the rods are attached to figures of defensive and offensive “players.”
Turning those handles and watching the players move in sync is always a good time. We got to thinking: Why is it called foosball, and where does the game come from? Most people who have been to an arcade have heard the term foosball, but how many of us know where it originated? Not many! So don’t go anywhere — stick around and see if we can achieve our goal of learning more about foosball!
Origin of Foosball:
The first time you saw a foosball table, you probably noticed how similar the layout was to a soccer field. As we mentioned, soccer is called “football” in many countries, and it’s very popular in Europe. Although it’s harder than you might to think to pin down the exact time and place that foosball was invented, the evidence points to Europe being the part of the world where it first emerged.
Harold Searles Thornton – the first patent owner: The history of foosball is contentious, and a wide variety of similar tabletop games were created in the early 1890s. However, the earliest patent went to Englishman Harold Searles Thornton on November 1st, 1923. Thornton applied for the official patent for a game called “table football” in 1921, and that game contained all the features of what we think of as foosball today. Whether or not Thornton was the first person to have the idea, he was the first to make it official.
Lucien Rosengard – the other inventor? Since the identity of the game’s creator is uncertain, there are multiple theories and assumptions regarding who came up with the idea first. While some give credit to Thornton, others claim that the father of foosball was engineer Lucien Rosengart, who was known for numerous innovations related to transportation, including bicycle parts and small, stylish cars.
It’s been said that he wanted to create a new game for his kids to play indoors during freezing weather. The first name Rosengard gave to his creation was “babyfoot” — presumably because it was a baby-sized version of football, and not because he thought the table resembled an infant’s foot in any way!
Related Reading: History of foosball
Why Is it Called Foosball?
Here’s Harold Searles Thornton’s version: With the popularity of soccer/football increasing throughout Europe, he wanted to create a game replicating the sport that people could play in their homes. Inspiration struck while he was looking at a box of matches.
Picture a matchbox with the matches lying across the top of the box, parallel to each other. Do you see the resemblance to a foosball table? Thornton turned this vision into a full-fledged tabletop game that was played similarly to its real-life counterpart. Thornton called it “foosball,” a variation on the German word for football, which is fussball. So that answers that!
Introduction of Foosball in America:
Looking into American foosball history, we find that although the UK patent was granted to Thornton in the 1920s, it took a while to catch on across the pond. The gamewas introduced to Americans by a soldier Lawrence Patterson in the 1960s. Patterson fell in love with the game during time spent in Germany, and when he returned home, he wanted to share the game with his home country. He started his own company to distribute foosball tables in the US.
Patterson took an excellent marketing step by selling coin-operated versions of the game, which made them perfect for arcades full of teenagers with pockets full of quarters. In the meantime, E. Lee Peppard began hosting high-prized tournaments, and skilled players started to take an interest in competing with their peers.
Foosball proved to be a successful addition to American arcades. It lost some steam when the popularity of video games exploded starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s — it’s hard for some plastic guys attached to a rod to compete with sports video games with realistic graphics, sound and physics. But to this day, you’re likely to find a foosball table at any well-equipped arcade.
Some Interesting Facts About Foosball That You Must Know:
It’s a simple fact: Humans love sports. While some people enjoy heading outside to play sports in the sun and the open air, others prefer indoor games. There’s a misconception associated with indoor games that they’re not as thrilling as outdoor games are, but this is not necessarily true. Indoor games can be just as exciting and physically challenging as outdoor games are! Plus, they have an advantage in that they can be played in a climate-controlled space.
With that said, would you like to hear some exciting facts about foosball? Sure you would! Let’s dive into those facts.
The Longest Foosball Match Ever Played:
The longest foosball match is recorded in the Guinness World Records book, which lasted over two days and is considered a world record. That particular game was played for more than 61 hours and 17 minutes — an incredible amount of time considering how much energy a competitive game can require. This exhilarating and historic game was played by Alexander Kuen, Manuel Larcher, Bernd Neururer and Dietmar Neururer in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012. It’s hard to imagine playing any game for 61 hours straight. We hope they were allowed to pause for bathroom breaks!
The Most Expensive Foosball Tables:
Foosball is an interesting game in that there aren’t a lot of parts and pieces. Other than the ball, the table is essentially the entire game. Most of us wouldn’t normally think of a foosball table as a luxury item, but there have been a few models over the years that are surprisingly expensive!
Consider “The Beautiful Game,” a modernist table released as a limited edition in 2008. Each table took twelve weeks to build, and included sleek chrome players for an extra-fancy look. How much did it cost? $68,000 per table!
Then there was the VVT Foosball Table by Louis Vuitton. Yes, Louis Vuitton! This model was built in France and had real cowhide leather-coated handles and hand-painted players. How much would this one set you back? $87,000! Another Louis Vuitton model goes for $87,500!
The Ball in a Foosball Game Moves Faster Than 35mph:
If you’ve ever played or watched a foosball game, you know that the small ball inside the table can move surprisingly quickly as players move their “team” to kick it toward their opponents’ goals. How fast can it go? Some expert foosballs players have established speed records by moving the ball as 35mph! The next time you’re in your car going 35, imagine a foosball ball sailing alongside you, matching your speed. Wow!
Foosball is a fun game with an interesting, if somewhat vague, history. You can enjoy the game on a rainy day with your family, or as a weekend activity with your favorite people. To be really good — competition-level good — requires physical and mental endurance, but it’s also fun to play a friendly game without worrying about who wins.
Has this article inspired you to seek out a foosball table of your own? Have you been thinking this entire time that you’d love to have your own foosball tournament at home? We hear you! Our foosball tables are on sale right now! Check out our selection today — we promise we don’t charge Louis Vuitton prices!