Historien om Shuffleboard

Undoubtedly inspired by the table game, an unknown recreation director for the Peninsular and Oriental Line created deck shuffleboard during the 1870s. The cruise industry, established by P & O in 1835, was burgeoning and new sports and games were being created to amuse passengers between ports. Among them were deck tennis and quoits. Deck shuffleboard quickly became a shipboard staple.

Court shuffleboard, as pictured on a 1950s postcard

The deck shuffleboard court was considerably larger than the table and larger wooden discs replaced the coins and metal weights used in table shuffleboard. Of course, cruise passengers couldn’t be expected to get down on their hands and knees to play, so a shooting stick was created, with an attachment at the end to hold the puck.

Scoring was originally the same as in table shuffleboard: lines across the court marked scoring areas, with the higher scores at the end farthest from the shooter. But somewhere along the line, a triangular scoring area was devised, with the highest scoring area at the apex of the triangle, nearest the shooter, and a penalty area, The deck game was brought ashore early in the 20th century, probably more than once. Most important, the Ball family built a shuffleboard court in 1913 at their resort hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida. The sport quickly became popular, especially among retired people, and it was quickly adopted at other resorts and in the retirement communities that sprang up in Florida during the 1920s.

The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club (originally known as the Mirror Lake Shuffleboard Club) was founded in in January of 1924. The SPSC was and is unquestionably the leading club in the country. At its peak, the club had 110 courts, a covered grandstand from which spectators could follow the action on its tournament courts, and more than 5,000 members.

In 1931, the SPSC called a meeting of other shuffleboard clubs, most of them in Florida, to form the National Shuffleboard Association (NSA) and adopt standard rules. The rules were essentially those that the SPSC had been using for seven years, and they have changed little since then.

The size of the court was set at 52 feet long by 6 feet wide; the length of the cue was limited to 6 feet, 3 inches; and disc size was established at 6 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

The NSA held its first national tournament, for men only, in 1931. Women’s competition was added the following year.

During the 1930s, the federal Works Progress Administration built shuffleboard courts on many playgrounds throughout the country. An indoor version of the sport, often played on a scaled-down court, was developed after World War II.

Shuffleboard reached its peak during the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, it has virtually disappeared from many areas, primarily because other types of recreation have entered the picture.

There are currently eight state associations, in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. The NSA has a membership of about 160,000. About 25,000 of them belong to the Florida Shuffleboard Association.

The NSA estimates that about 5 million people play shuffleboard at one time or another in the course of a year.