World Footbag Company History
Atop the summit of Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon in April 1983, Bruce Guettich and Greg Cortopassi consummated their dream to create a true players’ organization for footbag.
On May 12, 1983, the World Footbag Association (WFA) officially opened its doors to the players of a sport that was just barely 10 years old and mostly confined to Oregon and Washington. In a small, one room office attached to a row of airplane hangers located on a private airport in Vancouver, WA, Bruce and Greg began to chart the course for their new business for a new sport.
Fueled with passion, a membership base of two, Bruce and Greg, and only a hand full of footbag manufacturers, they set out to put footbag on the global map. Initially structured as a non-profit organization, the WFA was funded by membership sign-ups, subscriptions to their Footbag World newsletter, product sales, and (whenever possible) sponsorships.
In the early years, the new sport was considered a real media darling, and the duo were not shy about exploiting it. They went on a crusade to expose footbag to the mainstream through every newspaper, radio, and television station they could find. Some of their national coverage highlights included media titles such as MTV, ESPN, ESPN 2, Prime Sports, Good Morning America, The Learning Channel, The Jack LaLanne Show, The Bob Uker Show, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, People, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Cosmopolitan.
In the beginning, Footbag World was published three times a year, but eventually was scaled back to a bi-annual publication. It grew from an 8-page newsletter to a 56-page magazine and catalog. The contents included industry news, how-to columns, upcoming events, feature stories and a product catalog. The sport’s first mail order catalog offered 18 products from only three manufacturers. The WFA always encouraged hobbyist stitchers to join the industry by offering unique, quality footbag’s that enhance the level of play.
To give the sport a foundation, the WFA created a special Rules Making Committee in 1983. This group was made up of the sports most experienced players. The function of the committee was to control the direction of the sport’s growth through the construction of rules for the various footbag games played in competition. That Rules Making Committee has evolved into the International Footbag Committee (IFC), and is still in operation today and meet annually.
Early in 1984, the WFA’s membership roster received a boost when the National Hacky Sack Players’ Association closed up operation and passed along their member base to the growing WFA organization.
Onward and Upward
In September 1984, the WFA pulled up stakes and moved its world headquarters to Golden, CO…or Coors Country. This change was mostly influenced by the need to centrally locate the player’s association within the United States, which would better allow for touring team travel and give nationwide competitors a more balanced opportunity to attend events.
Aside from promoting footbag through local player workshops, national training camps and demonstrations at YMCAs, trade shows, NBA half-times, and in local, state, and world fairs, the WFA’s real “Johnny Apple Seed” work was done in the schools. Two-person WFA touring teams were formed that traveled the country staging dynamic school assembly shows and physical education classes. During some years these teams would perform for more than 300,000 students. It is estimated that more than four million students were infected by footbag’s fever through these teams’ efforts.
Although footbag is best known for its fun, free-form style of play that has no boundaries or rules, the WFA has always embraced both the competitive and non-competitive sides to this activity. We created and offered local, state, regional, national, and world competitive footbag events to those who enjoy measuring their abilities against others. The WFA has been at the forefront of organizing, sponsoring, and sanctioning events of all sizes; to this day, we are still responsible for event sponsorships, as well as footbag’s world record submissions and publishing in the Guinness Book of World Records.
100% Human Power
Since 1983, the WFA has employed a lot of wonderful humans, 19 of which have been inducted into the Footbag Hall of Fame. Bruce and Greg always believed in surrounding themselves with quality talent and warm, loving, and caring people. It turns out that it was the perfect recipe for success for them. Although Greg left the WFA in 1989 to pursue personal goals and dreams, his influence in the WFA and sport are still very much a part of the scene today. Greg’s infectious personality and laughter still continues to brighten lives around the world. We invite you to meet our current staff on our Facebook page here.
Movin’ On Up
In September 1996, the WFA moved its headquarters from Golden, CO to Steamboat Springs, CO. In 1999, after 16 years, the Footbag World magazine was discontinued due to the growing interest in the WFA’s expanding website and other online footbag information resources. Special collector back issues of Footbag World are available for purchase here.
As the emphasis of the company was moving away from a membership-based revenue stream, the WFA dropped “Association” from its name in favor of a shorter, more descriptive title of World Footbag. By 2001, the International Footbag Players Association (IFPA) had been granted 501 (c) (3) status as a truly non-profit footbag players’ governing body. For more information on IFPA and Footbag WorldWide go to www.footbag.org.
In September 2002, World Footbag acquired a 5,000 square foot facility in Steamboat Springs, CO. The new building now serves as the campus to the Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, offices, and warehouse. This move fueled a growth in the company’s research and development which helped to expand both retail and wholesale product distribution.
Our online catalog currently has expanded to over 130 different products, making it the largest and most diverse collection of footbag products in the world. We continue to support the craftsmen and footbag pioneers who were responsible for the unique and functional designs that the world enjoys today. Although we no longer actively pursue membership enrollments, everyone who orders through our online catalog is automatically added to the member list. Our current international membership roster stands at over 113,000 and spans 80 countries.
Since 1983, we have worn many hats for our sport. Our company has been built on hard work, dedication, passion, and stick-to-it-ive-ness. Our long list of accomplishments stand as testimony that whatever you put your mind to can be accomplished.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
In our quest to promote footbag as a healthy, life-long activity and sport that enriches lives, we are committed to the highest standards in all we do and strive to continually increase our knowledge and skills in all facets of footbag.