Somehow, the New York Times failed to report this story on the front page of its newspaper (“all the news that’s fit to FAIL”), so we are a little late in posting our own remembrance, but last Wednesday, George Nissen, a man whose work has proven hugely important to both the worlds of gymnastic sport and the worlds of hilarious home videos, passed away. From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Nissen, who died Wednesday at age 96, was a schoolboy tumbler who said he was inspired to devise the trampoline in 1934 after watching circus aerialists do flips while bouncing in the net beneath the trapeze.
While smaller trampolines—sometimes called “bouncing beds”—had been used by circus clowns and vaudevillians, it was Mr. Nissen who thought to build a large-scale one that could support a sustained routine of tricks. His invention ended up in gyms around the world, giving rise to a new sport that in 2000 made it into the Olympics.
It is impossible to estimate just how much we owe him. In some ways, we owe him everything. For this alone we could never repay him:
R.I.P. George Nissen. You will be missed. You are in heaven now, saying “mom, watch this” right before doing a faceplant with the angels.