Hacky Sack

Hacky Sack

Over the years, kids have come up with many creative ways to alleviate boredom at school: some play paper football, some trade notes back and forth, and some just tune out the world with their iPods. One of the coolest ways to kill scholastic downtime is to play with a Hacky Sack footbag. This easily-learned activity became a hit with sports enthusiasts of all ages during the 70s and 80s by providing a fun activity that developed dexterity at the same time. As a result, it became a hit of international proportions.

Mike Marshall created the Hacky Sack in 1972. He was recovering from knee surgery at the time and developed the toy as a way to increase the flexibility of his still-healing knee. Basically, this toy was a small, bean-filled bag and the game it was used in was just as simple: keep the bag from hitting the ground using anything except your hands. This game, which he called “Hack The Sack,” attracted the interest of John Stalberger. The two began playing the game and, realizing it could be a hit, began selling the tiny beanbags under the brand name Hacky Sacks.

Marshall died from a heart attack in 1975 but his friend Stalberger kept the Hacky Sack concept alive by forming a National Hacky Sack Association to promote the game. He also sold the license for the Hacky Sack to Wham-O in 1983, and this is when the Hacky Sack truly began to spread its wings as a phenomenon. The boost that the Hacky Sack got from the kid-friendly name of Wham-O made it a must-have toy for kids. By the 80s, it was a familiar sight on playgrounds and in school halls as kids ended their between-class boredom with a quick round of Hacky Sack.

Meanwhile, the game of Hacky Sack spread around the world thanks to the efforts of the National Hacky Sack Association. The fame of the game led to an official sport called Footbag that combined all the thrills of Hacky Sack with elements of Volleyball and Badminton to create a genuine team sport. Traditional Hacky Sack action also remains popular with Association members, but they call it Freestyle Footbag. Freestyle enthusiasts have also been known to develop elaborate choreographed routines, often featuring music, for the entertainment of the crowds at Footbag competitions.

Eventually, the international popularity of the Hacky Sack led to the development of the World Footbag Association. Today, this organization lays claim to 355 clubs in 35 countries around the world. Its continued popularity has led to the creation of several different models for the once-simple Hacky Sack. In fact, Wham-O currently sells six different styles of Hacky Sack: Striker, Impact, Infinity, Panther, Soccer Trainer and Superstar. Each sack has a colorful and unique design that has to do with its name – a good example being the Soccer model, which is a tiny, faithful replica of a Soccer Ball.

All in all, the Hacky Sack phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, and this long-lived success has allowed it to make the transition from a simple leisure activity to a classic American sport.

Have you played your fair share of Hacky Sack over the years? We’d love to hear your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below.

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