This article from the long-running Sports Illustrated magazine is an in-depth chat with Kenny Shults.
You can read the whole article here. Below is a preview.
Of the millions of kids who have gathered in millions of circles
to kick around all those little beanbags, virtually none know
about Kenny Shults. They should. Although Shults didn’t invent
the sport of footbag–commonly known by the trademark name Hacky
Sack–he is responsible, more than anyone else, for sparking its
international popularity. Shults is the world’s first and only
Hacky Sack prodigy.
“I’m starting to feel ancient,” he said as he surveyed the
dreadlocks and tie-dyes and body piercings on the newcomers who
had assembled to compete in the 17th annual World Footbag
Championships, held in August in Montreal. “Footbag years, you
know, are like dog years.”
Though Shults is all of 30 in human years, his hair–cut Wall
Street conservative–is starting to thin, and his wire-framed
eyeglasses are distinctly unhip. Also, he lacks the cocksure
demeanor of a dominant athlete. Shults is tall and lanky, 6’1″
and 165 pounds, and he moves about with the uncertainty of an
adolescent who has just experienced a growth spurt. He tucks his
T-shirt into his shorts. He is polite almost to a fault. And
because of his job as the marketing director of a software
company in Clackamas, Ore., just outside his hometown of
Portland, he had little time to practice for the championships.
This is actually a short letter to the editor, but considering the role Poland has had in the sport in recent years, it’s worth putting in the collection.
Thanks for Michael Colton’s interesting story about Hacky Sack, “The Goodwill Game” (Sept. 18).
I was first introduced to the game in the fall of 1988 when I accompanied 30 University of Redlands students to our Salzburg campus for a semester of study together. We played Hacky Sack all over Europe.
I remember one spirited game in the plaza in front of St. Peters, Rome. A too-swift kick resulted in the footbag landing on top of a Polish tour bus. It was lost for good, and we figured it might have made its way back to Poland. One year later Poland was free.
The full title of this probably wouldn’t fit in the title bar, which is The Goodwill Game: You Can’t Win at Hacky Sack – And That’s The Point. The Ultimate Neo-Hippie Sport.
There is often antagonism within the freestyle footbag scene to be associated with the hippy imagery, which might be blamed on articles like this…
On a hot, crowded Saturday at Venice Beach, Pat King, 19, spots two guys kicking around a Hacky Sack. Hoping to play, too, he whispers the secret password recognized at hack circles around the world: “Mind if I join in?”
The Olympics claim to promote peace and unity, but any hacker will tell you the true goodwill game is Hacky Sack. It has kept warrior guards awake in ancient China, warmed up the legs of soccer players, and helped treat sports injuries by stretching muscles and tendons. In its latest incarnation, though, it’s the ultimate neo-hippie sport–the athletic equivalent of tie-dyed clothing or listening to the Grateful Dead.
One from the more distant archives. This one is an article in the New York Times, mainly about the popularity of the hack circle and similar activities, such as juggling, taking off on campuses around the time. Some quotes from Gerg Cortopassi, co-founder of World Footbag Association.
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 11— The object is a small, floppy sphere that lies inert wherever it falls, but it has started students leaping and kicking and, according to one professor here, ”feeling better about themselves” on campuses around the country.
At Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania it is called a Hacky Sack, at the University of Delaware a footbag.
By whatever name, it is the instrument of a new sport with ancient Oriental roots that moved down the West Coast, crossed the country to East Coast colleges and now, proponents say, is beginning to find converts from Europe to the Far East.
By May it had grown so popular that it gained its own national organization, the World Footbag Association, based in Portland, Ore., whose officials estimate that as many as five million Americans are playing forms of the sport.