August 16, 2009

IT'S NOT FLASH-BOWLING, BUT IT'LL DO:

The Demanding Game Of Shuffleboard (Gilbert Rogin, 9/04/67, Sports Illustrated)

Shuffleboard is not deck shuffleboard, the full and proper name of the game played with a cue or stick. Deck shuffleboard is a parvenu that was apparently devised late in the 19th century as a shipboard amusement for children, and is now, of course, ineradicably associated with St. Petersburg, Fla. and senior citizens. True shuffleboard—first called shoveboard and then, inexplicably, shovelboard—seems to have originated in England, where there is a record of its being played in 1532, and in its earliest form consisted of shoving coins across a polished tabletop. Shuffleboard was one of the first games played in the American colonies; but, along with dice, cards, bowls, quoits and ninepins, it was banned on account of the early Puritan "detestation of idleness." Indeed, in Colonial Connecticut and Massachusetts shuffleboard was described as a game in which "much precious time is spent unfruitfully."

Nonetheless—or, rather, for this very reason—shuffleboard has flourished. According to Sol Lipkin, sales manager of the American Shuffleboard Company of Union City, N.J., which has 99% of the market, there are perhaps half a million boards now in use. American sold 3,500 last year. "The only trouble with the shuffleboard business," says Nick Melone, American's general manager, "is that shuffleboards last forever."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2009 5:12 PM
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