Rope Skipping .... Who's responsible for it?
'Jumping a rope' has been practiced for centuries around the whole world.
The first skilled rope makers emerged from early China and a game called Hundred Rope Jumping was one of the favourite sports during the Chinese New Year Festival. Rope was used for skipping in Phoenicia, and ancient Egypt. The Greeks jumped a pole in the early days of the Western civilization, and several painters in the Golden Ages painted children playing with a rope.
Rope Skipping (or Jump Rope) originated in the Netherlands, and made its way across the Atlantic in the 1600s. Dutch settlers were America's first jump-ropers. The English, who governed the Dutch colony in the Hudson River Valley, found a sport that involved jumping over one or two ropes to be absolutely ridiculous. The Dutch settler children jumped their ropes in front of their houses. As they jumped, the children accompanied their jumping games with all kind of songs. Of course the songs were in Dutch; which couldn't be understood by the French or the English. Oddly, it was the English who christened the two-roped variety of the sport "Double Dutch". The name was a derogatory term because anything associated with Dutch culture was considered absurd and inferior to the English.
It took until the twentieth century for double Dutch to hit the uptown streets. In the '40s and '50s, jumping rope was all the rage in the American inner city.
Apartments and buildings were stacked and sandwiched together with sprawling pavement front yards. Girls would head to the sidewalks with their mothers' clotheslines, if possible still wet from laundry day, so that the ropes would be heavy enough to hit the ground just right. By the late 1950s, Double Dutch nearly became extinct as it was overshadowed by the popularity of television and radio among youths. It wasn't until 1973 when Officer Ulysses F. Williams of the New York Police Department (NYPD) chose to use Double Dutch in his youth outreach programs. The project was cleverly named "Rope, not Dope", and its focus was to keep girls away from the destructive temptations of the inner city. The amount of organized Double Dutch teams increased during the 1980s, until New York City alone had fifteen hundred jumpers.
Before long, the American Double Dutch League (ADDL) was created by former D.C. police officer David Walker. He had seen the positive impact Double Dutch had on his community, watching girls being rescued from the lures of gangs, drugs, crime, and sex. Shortly after the ADDL's inception, McDonalds restaurants began sponsoring tournaments locally and nationally. This, not only provided much needed financial support for these events, but helped Double Dutch gain a wider audience and legitimised it as a sport.
When McDonalds severed its ties with the ADDL in the late 1990s, it also single-handedly collapsed the network of rope-jumping leagues. The ADDL continued but struggled as it carried on without McDonalds' strength and resources. Membership declined and tournaments were few and far between.
Double Dutch went back to the streets and unfortunately so did the children.
During this development time, kids all over the world were using a single rope to play. Boxers, physiotherapists with their patients and all kind of athletes used their rope for recreation, revalidation, and to improve physical condition or coordination skills. Despite these many individual activities, nobody seemed to be interested or bright enough to develop this activity in to a real Sport. The result was that at the end of the sixties, although everybody knew how to jump a rope, nobody had ever heard of Rope Skipping.
Richard Cendali, who lived in Boulder (Colorado, USA) was no exemption. Being a foot ballplayer, his coach insisted that he should work on his physical condition. 'How should I do this?' he asked. 'Well.... you can choose between running up and down the stadium steps for an hour or take a rope and jump for 15 minutes.', was the answer. The choice was obvious. Being a foot ballplayer, jumping a rope was for girls, he started running up and down the steps. No problem until snow fell and made the surface slippery, causing him some serious problems. '...or take a rope and jump for 15 minutes.', he remembered. So he did.
Soon the rope had no challenge to him. Just jumping up and down was no fun at all. So he started doing Criss-Crosses, Side Swings, Double and Multiple Unders in between his sessions. The sessions increased, both in time and difficulty, and 'fun' was combined with the rope.
His number of skills grew and, being a P.E teacher, Richard thought it was time to introduce 'Rope Skipping' to his students. They were enthusiastic about the rope and the skills and started inventing new skills with the single rope. They also took the long rope and the Double Dutch and created all kind of new skills, combinations and possibilities.
Rope Skipping was born.
In the early seventies Richard Cendali started spreading Rope Skipping throughout the whole of USA and later the rest of the world. Everywhere he travelled, he took hundreds and later thousands of ropes with him. He was given housing and meals and was offered the possibility to sell his ropes after his workshops to pay his travel expenses and finance spreading the sport further. His students formed the Rope Skipping Display Team and travelled together with him all over the world.
Initiated by this promotion, various National Rope Skipping Organizations were developed. In the nineties, the European Rope Skipping Organisation (ERSO) was the first Continental Rope Skipping Organization (CRSO) to be founded. The foundation of further CRSOs soon followed in Oceania and America.
Since then, the world organisation FISAC-IRSF (http://www.FISAC.org) has been founded and has set (one of it's goals) to develop Rope Skipping Worldwide. Momentarily, Asia is on it's way to have a legal CRSO and developments are progressing in Africa.