Why Hacky Sack is Fun For Kicking it With Friends

by Outdoor Diversions | Last Updated:   10 months ago
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Hacky sacks, also known as footbags, were quite popular back in the 1970s. It’s nothing but a small round bag filled with plastic pellets that is kicked around to keep it from touching the ground.

Kind of like juggling with your feet. Hacky sacking was one of the most popular games back then in the early eighties but is hacky sack still popular?

While the sport is still around and enjoyed the popularity has waned greatly. Hacky sacking has been declining in popularity for quite a while now. Besides a few tournaments arranged now and then, seeing people actually play it is a rare sight, though there have been glints of rebirth.

To learn more about its history and the reason behind its steady decline I advise that you keep reading till the end.

History of Hacky Sacking

Playing with footballs and similar activities have always been around since we can remember. Hacky Sack was created by a gentleman named Mike Marshall and John Stalberger in 1972.

Even though one of the creators suffered a blood clot and died of a heart attack in 1975, his creation continued to gain popularity from the masses.

Mike got the basic concept for the hacky sack thanks to an inmate who was of Native American descent. He showed him how to keep a bean bag aloft by kicking it up in the air. This was supposed to go on for a while until the player got tired then he or she could pass it on to the others.

The game was initially introduced to Stalberger as a way to heal his knee injury. He began playing it as soon recovered. After the recovery, he got the idea of manufacturing it and introducing it to the public.

Origin

Games like the Hacky Sack have been around for centuries. There is a popular notion that such a game had already taken its round back in the late mid-third millennium BCE.

It was called Cuju and was invented by a Chinese mythological deity who used it in this daily training for the military.

The stories of this Cuju sport can be found in many other ancient Chinese scriptures and other writings. It’s fascinating to know that such sports had already taken its form many years back as well. And maybe that’s why most of our modern creations are just embodiments of their ancient versions.

Not just China, similar sports can also be found all over the Asian Subcontinent. Many games similar to the Hacky sack are being played regularly in countries such as Japan and Malaysia.

And when we think about it, the classic soccer from the European region mimics some of the styles of the Hacky Sack. One of them being juggling the ball for a while before hitting it.

Source: Jay Adan from flicker

Evolution of The Sport

Their initial design was square-shaped and it was filled with rice and the exterior was made of denim. They soon understood the complications and decided to improve the product design. Hence, they shifted from the square-design and opted for a round shape that would be filled with plastic pellets.

As for the outer skin, the denim was replaced with cow-hide which gave it more strength and endurance.

Even though Marshall died of a heart attack in 1974, Stalberger decided to carry on his friend’s and his legacy; which was the Hacky Sack. He continued to promote the product and ended up with huge popularity over the years.

Rise to Popularity

Hacky Sacks instantly has a hit with school and college kids who would stand in a circle and pass the ball along. Due to the counterculture, you could see Hacky Sacks in nearly all playing fields.

Even the concert venues were no strangers to such sights.

Stalberger founded the National Hacky Sack Association in 1975 and after four years, the Hacky Sack was able to get a license. By this time, the Hacky sack was a huge business with it being sold worldwide in millions.

Finally, in 1983, the Hacky sack was acquired by the famous company Wham-O which was huge for manufacturing Frisbees.

A Steady Decline

All great things must come to an end and that same fate was met by Hacky Sack. But before the downfall, the Hacky Sack was going all strong and it even turned into a professional sport with official rules and regulations. It was now a worldwide sport played by countless athletes.

But then in 1984 The Hacky Hack Association officially came to an end. It was replaced by the World Footbag Association

Reason Behind the Decline

The decline in the popularity of the hacky sack could be a result of an overall decrease in the number of children going out for outdoor sports.

With the advancement of technology and the increasing amounts of indoor sports, Hacky Sack was slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past.

You could no longer see kids outdoors playing with their Hacky Sacks as the majority was now indoors with their Xbox or PlayStation. It was the end of an era.

Even though it remains in the hearts of many 70s kids, it might take a lot to resurrect the hacky sack given its drowning popularity over the years. But changes are being made and we’re surely seeing it.

Are People Still Playing It?

Even though Hacky Sack has now become a thing of the past, you can sometimes see it across playing fields being played by a bunch of kids or teenagers.

It’s still a sport that can be enjoyed by friends and family alike and you won’t end up with massive injuries while playing such a harmless game

Even though the National Hacky Sack Association has closed down, The World Wide Footbag Foundation was created in 1994 and it was further established to International Footbag Players Association, Inc.

In recent years the International Footbag Players Association has organized a couple of international footbag tournaments; the most recent being the Footbag World Championships on July 29th.

In the world championships, players are given scores and judged as professionally as possible even though it is a small sport. The competition is slowly increasing and more people are most interested in the idea

Countless individuals are extremely competitive and are ready to give it their all and participate in the tournaments while most of the others just want to have fun. And there’s nothing wrong in that given the fact that the game was initially created for fun.

When it comes to the crowd and the audience, many of them don’t really care for the sport that much, but as the numbers grow, they are being forced to notice the growing enthusiasm over the game.

The thing that makes Hacky Sack popular with the new crowd these days is its portability. The Hacky Sack can be carried anywhere and you only need just another person to play it with.

As a result, many college freshmen are able to just pack the Hacky Sack in their bag and take it out to play with their friends.

It has taken its track and many believe that even if it doesn’t reach the same level of popularity that it used to have, it will surely be something that will be known to the masses of today.

Chances of Revival

As mentioned before, one of the most important reasons behind the decline of hacky sacking was the rise of home entertainment. Most importantly video games.

Most children are just not interested in going out to play anymore. And this rise of home entertainment has just begun showing no signs of slowing down.

But there is still hope. With competitions popping up here and there, the sport is surely getting more exposure in the recent years. And if this keeps on, hacky sacking is sure to come back.

But the odds are, even if that happens there is next to zero chance of it getting back its former popularity. 

Final Thoughts on Is Hacky Sack Still Popular

Hacky Sack may have fell on some slower times but it is a perfect sport or hobby to play anytime and any place, all that is needed is to start building it back up in the public eye once more.

I hope that everyone who played before will pull out their old and aged Hacky Sacks and get the kids out playing again. Or if you don’t own one to jump onboard and start once more playing and pulling in friends as this is a perfect BBQ game for yard enjoyment with friends and family!

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