Tuesday, October 9, 2012

50 year old rules, marketing and the clear initial aim for inclusion into the game

The following text examines marketing material from Cosom Corporation about Cosom Hockey from around 1964. It is also supported by a recent discussion with Mr. Phil Carlson in Minneapolis. 
It is our intention to share some of the documents that we refer to here with full copies posted at this site. This material include rather good images of how Floorball looked like during the early and mid sixties in the USA. It is fully amazing if we may judge this on our own account. Hold on it will be up here soon. Today we just discuss early rules, marketing and the aim for inclusion - as they looked like about 50 years ago.

Documents that appear to be locally, and rather recent, and most likely produced in-school - by students from Battle Creek, MI - are easily available on the Internet.  These clearly state and hold Mr. Tom Harter of Battle Creek as the innovator and father behind Floor Hockey.  Floor Hockey is the game that most Americans are familiar with - as they have not heard about Floorball (yet - well this is the reason and the drive behind this blog).
These sources may not be seen as fully reliable or credible in the light of a more broader and deeper history – or how it has been described in the terms of the origin of Cosom Hockey, like we have done here just recently.

A more developed description of Mr. Harters contribution is therefore that he developed the initial rules for both Floorball and Floor Hockey together with the Cosom Corporation.

Amazingly many of the earliest rules as determined by Mr. Harper and developed together with the Cosom Corporation are almost identical, to several modern 
Floorball rules.
The points below comes from the one of the Cosom Rule descriptions as exact quotes on the original rules from 1964 -"The New Sport Cosom Hockey for Boys and Girls by Cosom Hockey, 1964":

  • “the stick to be carried below the waist at all times”
  • “body checking must be absolutely forbidden”
  • “substitutions may be called at any time”
  • “there are no out of bounds as it is preferred to maintain continuous play”
  • “..may lodge under seats etc, a player of the opposing will pass the puck into play at the point where it left the playing field”
  • “players may change position at any time”

These rules indicate a similarity in many aspects between what originated as Cosom Hockey and with modern Floorball, so many that it might likely not - just be a coincidence. Beside of what these quotes describe there are several references to a foul play. This is described more or less as the current “free-hit” used in Floorball, with one significant difference. In Cosoms original rules, the “foul hit” was supposed to take place from the foul line – this was also described as “use the basketball free throw line as the foul line”. 
In more modern Floorball literature both the free-hit and the hit-in rule have been mentioned as to be borrowed from Soccer. It is however clear that the influence of Soccer in Battle Creek, MI as well as in Minneapolis, MN most likely was minimal during the early 60-ties. So most likely this is a truth with room for modification too.

Early Cosom Hockey, however also offers a few rules that do not exist in modern Floorball. From the very same rule book as described above there is a section that describe the players to have four different roles on the court; 1) A goalkeeper, 2) Two guards (that may not go pass the center line for offensive tasks) 3) A free Center and 4) Two Forwards that may not go pass the center line to help the guards with the defense. However please note that these rules describe 6 players on a team. 
Added to this is still the special notion as we show above, "players may change position at any time". Something that confuses the picture a bit, probably to the degree where the rule was rather fast adjusted to how the game is played today.

Early rules from Cosom and Tom Harter further state that the goalie may not lie down and he/she is supposed to use a stick. At these early years the game was recommended to be played indoors with Cosoms hollow and lightweight puck, equipped with holes (as we have described earlier). But as the game was supposed to be played outdoors the recommendation was to use the Fun-Ball. In today’s Floorball this is the ball that is used as the regular Floorball ball. And yes all these first games are being played with Cosoms "banana-shaped blade" and not with more straight ice hockey influenced blades.

Early promotional material from the Cosom Corporation during the mid-sixties uses different forms of approaches to appeal to a broad range of players. One headline read “For the majority; not the minority” is used to highlight that this is an activity for all and not just for the few at the athletic top. The marketing text further describe that Cosom Hockey is an exciting activity for all the students, including them that did not make it into the Varsity team. 

Is anyone thinking about "floorball is for all" now?

The text continues to read “a boy half the size of the Varsity athlete may outplay him”. The marketing material continues “boys and girls small for their age, the seriously overweight, and the handicapped, the withdrawn, the timid, all find places in this new sport.” The text continues..
“… its emphasis on a team activity rather than the skill of a star, its demand for alertness and movement rather for strength or height”. 
These are another excerpts from early marketing material from the Cosom Corporation that very much resemble the modern description that we think state: Floorball is for all.

Our own reaction here is how visionary this text is - remember this was written about 50 years ago - well before anyone even knew about Floorball in Europe.

Using a more modern language much of the early Cosom material would perhaps today have been worded a bit differently, but the core values are strikingly similar them used today as Floorball is being explained and played.  

Both in terms of Rules, Marketing and the idea of an Inclusive game.
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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!