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Pinball Association Bounces Back


April 30, 2008
By Canadian Vending Staff

In pinball there is a vernacular that is uniquely its own, such as a ‘Lazarus Ball’ or a ‘death save.’
Well, as in the game of pinball the unexpected can, and often does,
happen. A ball that appears destined to drain somehow travels a
different path back into play. Well so, too, has been the surprising
journey of the newly resurrected International Flipper Pinball
Assoc-iation, bouncing back into the field of play after an absence of
more than a decade.

Pinball Association Bounces Back

11In pinball there is a vernacular that is uniquely its own, such as a ‘Lazarus Ball’ or a ‘death save.’
Well, as in the game of pinball the unexpected can, and often does, happen. A ball that appears destined to drain somehow travels a different path back into play. Well so, too, has been the surprising journey of the newly resurrected International Flipper Pinball Assoc-iation, bouncing back into the field of play after an absence of more than a decade.

With an objective of encouraging and supporting the establishment of authenticated worldwide player rankings, endorsed tournaments, leagues and competitions as well as a variety of promotional activities, the all-new IFPA has very ambitious goals. However, what the IFPA recognizes is that a vital community of pinball players and enthusiasts already exist. All that had been lacking was a way to link divergent activities across the globe.

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The IFPA has been created to elevate the awareness and visibility around the world while also generating media coverage and corporate sponsorship to help bring the sport of competitive pinball back into the spotlight. The sport of pinball has been dormant for far too long. Although there is only a single manufacturer currently producing new pinball machines, the IFPA knows that pinball can (and will) once again be viewed as a legitimate form of competition as well as a unique leisure entertainment attraction for both skilled and novice players alike.

Where the greatest strength of the IFPA comes into play is through its outreach efforts to the players themselves as well as the many events currently taking place throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. The IFPA has created the World Pinball Player Rankings (WPPR) to establish the first official rankings system of pinball players throughout the world. Over 400 players are listed and the numbers keep increasing.

Through these IFPA-endorsed tournaments and leagues, the IFPA will crown the World’s Greatest Pinball Player at the end of each calendar year. IFPA endorsed tournaments will give players a chance to earn WPPR points to increase their rankings.

The IFPA is here to provide assistance, direction and proven methodologies for success to location owners, operators, and players. The pedigree of the IFPA co-directors, Roger Sharpe and Steven Epstein, is proof enough that this new association can deliver on all fronts.

Roger Sharpe’s contributions and impact on the coin-operated amusement game industry have been evident for over 30 years from his acclaimed book on pinball machines, testifying in New York City to help legalize the games and, for 12 1/2 years, the director of marketing and licensing for Williams Bally/Midway. He has also designed a number of memorable games and contributed to the pages of all the leading coin-operated industry trade publications.

Steven Epstein’s accomplishments are no less impressive as the owner/operator of the world famous Broadway Arcade in New York City for more than 35 years. Epstein also worked with Stern Pinball to promote the company’s TOPS tournament pinball system.

Sharpe and Epstein co-founded the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) back in the late 1970s. Together, they created leagues and successfully ran six world pinball championships. Through these six tournaments, they raised over $100,000 for different charities, brought together players from around the world and raised the awareness of competitive pinball be creating over a million media impressions through worldwide media coverage highlighted by news features on such networks as CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN and MTV.

Now, Sharpe and Epstein are convinced that the uniting of all these existing pinball competitions under one umbrella will provide a more focused presence for the sport. And these two industry veterans are encouraging all operators, location owners and event organizers to contact the IFPA for information, guidance and assistance in staging tournaments, leagues and special promotional activities. As both might say, if asked, the ball is most definitely still in play and there’s a “special” lit.o

For more information visit the official IFPA website at www.ifpapinball.com, as well as the official WPPR website www.pinballrankings.com.


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