Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The World Class stick invention that came from Minneapolis

The following text is not written for the sole purpose of this blog - so the "fluency" in reading it might be a bit different. But here is a part that describe early stick development at Cosom Hockey in Minneapolis during the 60-ties.
This is actually an improved version of the Cosom stick, the pattern on the blade looked slightly different on the very first sticks

The early "FUN BALL" developments at Cosom lead to two things; First we have a company in the Plastics design industry that is trying to expand the use of one of their best selling products, the Fun Ball (initially used for golf practice). During the Mid-sixties the Cosom Corporation was owned by Sharper Manufacturing, another company in Minneapolis that produced the Cootie plastic toy as their main selling item and they were focused to produce items in plastics. Secondly there were groups of Hockey players trying to take their own kind of game indoors. They used regular Hockey sticks but covered the blade with a big sock not to scratch up the floor..

Mr. Phil H Carlson, Al Teter and Lawrence “Larry” Erickson now started to work together on the design of a new plastic Hockey stick to be used inside school gymnasiums to play Hockey. They also started to investigate what kind of ball to be used. It is clear that it was yet again the Golf club as well as the common Field Hockey stick that borrowed some of its basic design as an inspiration for these men as they started to design the first “hockey stick” fully made out of plastic. 
The stick they came up with was rather short, as a golf club, but it was also made out of a soft plastic design, soft enough, so that the sticks would bend slightly as the sticks would be used to play with. In essence the stick consisted of two parts that were merged. The shaft was a basic plastic pipe that was fitted to a plastic soft blade, shaped with an oversize almost U-shaped blade, similar to how field hockey sticks are designed. The most striking comparison to the field Hockey club however is that the plastic version of the stick had a much more lightweight, soft and flexible appearance as compared to the stiff and heavy, tool produced in wood and being used to play regular Field Hockey with. 

These first plastic sticks were also significantly shorter as compared to any other previous Ice Hockey stick, they were much more lightweight and flexible, almost as being wobbly (at least by today's standards), as compared to the other two traditional kinds of sticks on the market.

Since some of the initial inspiration for these products came from the sport of Ice Hockey the designers also explored the idea to develop a game feature that yet even more would attract Ice Hockey players. The company therefore also experimented with a puck, designed in plastics just like the Fun Balls, and using a hollow plastic shell, equipped with holes to have turbulence in the air to brake the puck too. This puck offered several different features as compared to the regularly used Ice Hockey puck. First of all the puck became much more lightweight as compared to a regular puck. The holes designed in the puck to let air through worked as brakes and slowed the speed of the “puck”. The plastic material used in the puck also gave the puck a better friction as it would slide easier over a surface - like a gymnasium floor - as compared to a puck designed in solid rubber compounds.

With soft, flexible and lightweight sticks, a soft and lightweight ball, as well as a puck. The Cosom Corporation early on realized that they were creating a rather safe game or sport, this was something that later on also would be used in their marketing.

With the first prototypes ready; extensive testing and product development both at schools as well as at the test market took place during the early 1960-ties. Two of these parts of the testing stand out in the historic perspective.

The first is tied to a Mr. Tom Harter in Battle Creek, MI.  Mr. Harter, also being the Director for the Parks and Recreational department in Battle Creek during the mid-60-ties, he mainly contributed to the sports development in terms of its rules, its marketing concepts and therefore also in terms of its popularity. Today one may realize that several of the rules devised by Mr. Harter still are alive in the sport Floorball, some of the core marketing concepts originated by Mr. Harter is also still in use as more modern versions of indoor Hockey, like Floorball is played today. 

It is outside the scoop of this text to describe and contrast the early rules developed with what modern Floorball use today. But we plan to be back on this. 
However it is of significant interest that the early game was based upon several safety ideas and features. It is also noteworthy that already in some of the very first marketing material – the ability for people with “a Handicap” to participate was stressed as a unique selling feature. 

Safe T Play, became a very strong tag line for many Cosom products, not just from Cosom Hockey.

As we have looked at historic material it is clear that the phrase "an inclusive game" was not invented at this time, even if it seems obvious that the sport was.
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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!