Spikeball may not date back to Roman times or ancient Egypt, but it has a pretty interesting history. The game first appeared in the 20th century, and it’s only in the last decade or so that it has become popular. Since then, it has made appearances on television shows and has been recognized by influential sportsmen. In this article, we will help you trace the history of Spikeball and its emergence into popular culture.
The origins and history of Spikeball
Spikeball was originally created by toy maker Jeff Knurek in 1989 and was marketed by the Japanese entertainment company Tomy. Although there was a brief spike in popularity from 1989 to 1995, it quickly faded due to the outdated nature of the equipment. Nearly a decade later, Chris Ruder, CEO of Spikeball Inc. has helped revitalize the sport.
As Chris Ruder explains in an interview with Susan Adams, it all started on a trip to Hawaii in 2003, where his brother’s friends brought their old Spikeball game. He fell in love with the game while they were playing it on the beach. Some passersby even asked him about it.
They started talking about relaunching the game in the next few years, and Chris began doing market research to see what he could do. He discovered that the trademark for the game had expired and that there was no patent on the game. So he acquired the trademark after spending $800. He also managed to get a patent to make some design changes and improve the original hardware.
Eventually, he launched Spikeball Inc. in 2008, with his basement serving as a warehouse. By 2013, they had made $1 million in annual revenue.
How did Spikeball gain popularity?
In 2014, major sports retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods took notice of Spikeball. Instead of the company approaching the distributor, the distributor came to them and asked to carry their products in their stores.
This kind of recognition from retailers like Dick’s is not surprising considering how much fun it is to play the game. However, it didn’t necessarily launch the game’s popularity with the general public, although it did help generate steady revenue.
It was Spikeball Inc.’s participation in the “Shark Tank” show that put the game in the spotlight. Chris and his team entered the tank on the final episode of Season 6, which aired on May 15, 2015. Mr. Wonderful and Daymond John were the two sharks who made him an offer.
He negotiated a deal with Daymond and offered him 20% of the company for $500,000. However, they didn’t close the deal within months. Despite this, the game had already gained a lot of notoriety thanks to the show and so Spikeball became a mainstream success.
The game has since been hosted by Dude Perfect, one of the most influential sports entertainment groups with 38 million subscribers on YouTube. It has also been recognized by influential shows like “The Today Show” and publications like Inc. Magazine. This has further amplified the game’s popularity in the mainstream media.
In France, it was the youtuber Pierre Croce who helped the game Spikeball gain popularity. Indeed, thanks to his audience, his Spikeball video has reached almost 700 000 views.
The renaming of Spikeball
With mainstream success comes recognition from all the right places. It also meant that Spikeball Inc. began to have competition. Other brands created their own Spikeball equipment to capitalize on the game’s newfound fame. This meant that the Spikeball brand could end up losing its trademark if other brands continued to market similar equipment.
So Spikeball Inc. came up with a solution: they needed to rename the sport to protect the trademark. They came up with the name “roundnet” because the game is played with a round net. However, people still call it Spikeball or use the two terms interchangeably, because that’s how it became known.
Other Roundnet brands
Spikeball may be the largest manufacturer of Roundnet equipment, but there are several other brands that have become very popular. As a result, some people may mistakenly refer to equipment from these brands as “Spikeball”. This can be quite confusing for someone who is new to the game and wants to buy a roundnet set. Other popular roundnet brands are
- Bounceball (especially popular in Brazil)
- Revol (which gained popularity rapidly in 2015)
Of these brands, Slammo is the closest competitor. By providing decent equipment at a much lower price, it has managed to become a popular alternative for the original Spikeball. However, many players still prefer the original to Slammo due to some quality differences.
As you can see, the history of Spikeball is quite interesting, as the game has seen many ups and downs over the past few decades. Thanks to mainstream media and recognition from reputable sporting goods retailers, Spikeball has found the success it deserves.