Bubbleball in the United States
Some of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Bubbleball in the United States (also known as bubble soccer or zorb football) is inspired by the game European Bubble bump football. It emerged in the United States in 2014, when it was introduced by Mahdad Taheri and the company Bubbleball Inc. In the United States, “zorb football” is more commonly referred to as "bubbleball" because the term "zorbing" refers to the act of rolling downhill inside a plastic orb, as opposed to playing with parts of the body outside of a plastic orb and in a team sport, such as is done with a bubbleball.
On March 8, 2014, Mahdad Taheri, the founder of a New York branding, design and marketing agency, TVI, saw a clip online of European zorb football being played. While looking for a way to play it with his team, Taheri decided to introduce it as a new game in the United States. On Monday April 7, 2014 Taheri launched bubbleball.us with a grassroots public relations campaign riding the wave of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Bubbleball Inc. was incorporated through TVI’s Blue Sky Labs innovation initiative. Bubbleball Inc. is the first national US distributor of bubbleballs. Events and operations have sprung up across North America using bubbleballs as a tool to promote charities in their localities  and as a team building tool for a number of businesses.
On August 1, 2019, after completing the phase of initial product distribution, Taheri introduced new bubbleball game rules designed to elevate early games into the sport of bubbleball. Elements of soccer, rugby and football were combined, with the inclusion of new model bubbleballs, to create a new sport and league governed and promoted by the Bubbleball Business Association (the BBA).
The reception to bubbleball in the US has been mostly positive, catching the attention of major news networks such as Univision, Sports Illustrated, Thrillist, and Buzzfeed. In May 2015, several stars including Nash Grier, Jack Gilinsky, Max Schneider, Kurt Hugo Schneider, Sebastian Jude, and Josh Devine of One Direction participated in a YouTube video promoting the game. Bud Light incorporated bubbleballs in several videos for their UpForWhatever campaign during June 2015. On July 22, 2015, bubbleballs made an appearance on Good Morning America. On September 8, 2015 bubbleballs were also featured on The Today Show. On November 20, 2015, bubbleballs appeared on season 7 of Shark Tank. It failed to gain funding because of the National Association of Bubble Soccer's convoluted business model.
Critics of the game have primarily expressed concerns over safety following the associated zorb tragedies and viral videos online. Bubbleball Inc. maintains that no serious injuries have been reported via rental channels nor sales channels and bubbleballs, when properly fitted, are as safe for use, if not safer, than any other sport. Representatives of other companies have also noted that certain injuries are a uniform risk across every sport: twisted ankles, banged-up knees, etc., and that using bubbleballs is no different.
The industry of bubbleball in the United States is very young and fragmented with new players coming on to the market to promote other games and brands on a national level. Hundreds of local operators have set up operations to allow people to play locally and independent of national distributors and leagues. The activity has drawn in a very diverse customer base of athletic and non-athletic players in university intramural programs as well as recreational leagues.
1. Product sales and distribution
Three common sizes of bubbleballs are typically sold by distributors in either PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). The complete opening at the top and bottom of the bubbleball allows for easy breathing during gameplay. In addition to the bubbleballs themselves, pumps, repair kits, and warranties are sold by distributors.
2. Local rentals and leagues
Bubbleball rentals and leagues span the continental US. A rental typically includes space for 6-20 players per hour, the use of bubbleballs, goals and soccer balls, a trained referee, a sideline coordinator, and transportation of equipment to and from the venue. Depending on the vendor, the experience is often customizable to accommodate customer needs in terms of length of play, size of party, play date, and location.
- "Zorb Football". zorbing - a comprehensive site about all related sports and activities.
- "Blue Sky Labs | TVI Designs V3". www.tvidesigns.com. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-10-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Farrah Abraham, Heather McDonald & More Love BubbleBall". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2015-10-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "An entrepreneur's passion inspires a change of heart". ABC. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
- "How Bubble Soccer CEO Bounced Back After Shark Tank Failure". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2015-10-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2015-10-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "The Observer : Bubble ball wraps up first season". cwuobserver.com. Retrieved 2015-12-07.