Foosball: luxury or necessity?
Friday, April 15, 2005 at 08:32AM
Political Mammal in Company history

Over a year ago now, NGP Software, Inc., purchased its second foosball table, a very nice Tornado Cyclone II. We retired our earlier $200 Sears model after a serviceable but unimpressive career.

We now have a pretty high density of accomplished foosball players. And we include foosball skills as an extra qualification in our employment advertisements.

I am not sure whether in a small software company a foosball table is a luxury, a work hazard, or a necessity. It is certainly enjoyable to be able to catch a game with coworkers. And I think it is necessary to have an outlet when some programming bug, technical support issue, client data snafu, or Internet connectivity hiccup raises the frustration levels. I get nervous only on very rare occasions—such as when I see four players plus an audience happily engaged in not working for too long, or when I can see that my non-foosball-playing staff resents the amount of play. This has not happened in a while.

I never played foosball until college, but I was fortunate that my residential college (Berkeley) at Yale had a game room with three very good game tables: ping pong, pool, and foosball. I may have to petition for it, but I should have earned at least one course credit sophomore year in foosball. Some friends and I spent a great deal of time studying that sport with some seniors with serious skills—and practicing it in numerous games against each other.

It is a good thing now that I had that college experience, because otherwise I would be consistently crushed by my own employees. And then where would I find any respect? As it is, I can still hold my own, particularly in a one-one one situation where my weak left-handed five-man does not hinder me.

As long as we continue to find a balance between quality of life and productivity, I will continue to be a fan of the NGP corporate foosball perquisite.

Article originally appeared on Political Mammal (
See website for complete article licensing information.