March 30, 2006 12:51 AM by Joe Blackmon
Earlier this week Reality TV Magazine ran an article detailing an invention that the American Inventor judges made a joke out of that seemed to be a good invention with a proven market. Now, Reality TV Magazine takes a look at another good invention that we feel the judges made a mistake in overlooking. Marc Griffin presented his game of BulletBall with passion and commitment, and the game seemed like a marketable product. Marc demonstrated all the characteristics that the American Inventor show claims to be seeking, but the American Inventor judges seemed more focused on the inventor’s life story rather than seriously evaluating his invention.
Reality TV Magazine caught up with Marc Griffin, the man behind BulletBall and BulletBall Extreme, and he had an interesting story to tell. For one thing, Marc tells us that American Inventor judge Doug Hall, who tried out the game, wasn’t a very good Bulletball player. Marc also believes the judges were mistaken in their comments to him. Mary Lou Quinlan told Marc, “You told us that you’ve given twenty-six years of your life to this game. I think that’s more of a life than a man can give to a dream. Please get your life back.” Mary Lou might think that Marc needs to get his life back, but Marc would be happy if he could only get his game back. Apparently, Marc left his BulletBall table at the Los Angeles auditions and the show was supposed to ship it back to him in a week. Marc has now been trying to get his BulletBall table back from the American Inventor show for over two months, but no one seems to be giving him any answers. Perhaps, the missing BulletBall table now resides in Doug Hall’s basement, and he’s getting in some much needed practice.
Reality TV Magazine: Can you tell us exactly how much you have invested in the game in time and money?
Marc Griffin: In terms of pure monetary investment, I have personally spent approximately $30,000 over the past 26 years in the development of BulletBall (patent, trademark, copyright, attorney fees, prototypes, ball selection, research, etc.). The bulk of my total investment of approximately $100,000 involves my time spent demonstrating the game at various venues (universities, colleges, sport bars, boys and girls clubs, parks, and professional sporting events) over the years to determine the proper target market, and from the support of others who also gave of their time and money to help bring BulletBall to fruition.
After spending 20+ years (these were BulletBall years) as a manager making millions for major corporations across America, I decided in 2004 to "step out of the box" and work towards realizing my own dreams. It was then that Bulletball moved from being a hobby to becoming my "job". To look back at one’s life when retirement is just around the corner and wonder if things would have been different if "you had only taken the risk" is not the vision I want for myself. It’s a personal choice.
Reality TV Magazine: What is the difference between BulletBall and BulletBall Extreme?
Marc Griffin: BulletBall is a game. It’s age/gender neutral and is simple fun for the entire family. The rules restrict physical play by setting boundaries. This removes some of the "competitive edge" that can develop when a game is physical in nature and it also slows down the velocity of the ball.
BulletBall Extreme is a sport. The rules are less restrictive and designed for the professional or highly competitive players. The speed, hand-eye coordination, and accuracy needed to propel the ball past your opponent (and score a BULLETBALL) requires a greater sense of strategy as well as skill. Some players have described it as "human pinball with the skills of table tennis".
BulletBall is easy to transport, played indoors or outdoors, and played while standing or sitting (the choice is left up to the individual player). BulletBall is wheel chair friendly which allows the physically challenged to play competitively with anyone.
Reality TV Magazine: American Inventor judge Doug Hall played the game with you, but he didn’t vote to put you through. Do you think he understood the game?
Marc Griffin: The easiest games to learn can be the most difficult games to master. Doug Hall was not a very good player. I also believe there was not an attempt to really understand the game. The drama of my life story (which made for great TV I suppose) seemed to be the focus of all the judges and trumped the desire to learn about the game. We were told upfront that American Inventor is a "reality show" therefore nothing suprises me about how BulletBall or myself was presented. National exposure for BulletBall was my trade-off.
Reality TV Magazine: What did you think of the American Inventor judges telling you that you had invested too much of your life into the game?
Marc Griffin: On the cutting room floor is Doug Hall saying to me "I’ve been where you are". Am I to assume that he has invested too much of his life into his inventions? Just asking.
During the first 22 years since BulletBall’s conception, it was like a hobby, a game played among family and friends on weekends, during vacations, or summer picnics and parties.
I actually invested too much of my life working for Corporate America 5-6 days a week, an average of 10 hours a day, for 25 years. If I had my priorities straight I would have understood years ago that "it is better to have tried and failed than not tried at all".
Better late than never:)
Reality TV Magazine: Do you think the judges were wrong in their advice and why?
Marc Griffin: The judges were wrong because they mistakened my life as being BulletBall. Life is what you live everyday. BulletBall is not my life but my dream. I believe when we stop dreaming we stop living. I’ve climbed all the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Katahdin in Maine, saw a double rainbow while on top of Harney Peak in South Dakota, walked to the edge of the Grand Canyon, touched Niagra Falls, stood on Cape Flattery, attempted a climb of Mount Rainier, walked along Sunset Beach, and hiked the Appalachian Trail…..this is life.
Reality TV Magazine: Do you plan to give up or will you continue to pursue your dream of making Bulletball an olympic sport?
Marc Griffin: This has always been a tough question to answer because when I say "Olympic Sport" everyone’s eyes start to glaze over with disbelief. Let me answer the question with a few questions. Who invented the Olympic Sport called Table Tennis? Who invented the Olympic Sport called Soccer? Who invented the Olympic Sport called Basketball? I suspect the inventor of every sport/game imaginable dreamed that one day their sport /game would be played all over the world. I can remember when snowboarding was scoffed at only a few years ago. It’s no different with BulletBall Extreme. I simply believe that its an exciting and fun sport to play. There are many other BulletBall players who feel the same…..it will continue to grow with or without me. So, to answer your question, yes I believe one day BulletBall will be recognized as an Olympic Sport.
Reality TV Magazine: Do you think Bulletball was a better invention than some of the other inventions that the judges let through? If so, please give examples.
Marc Griffin: Who am I to judge someone’s invention? I am proud of all inventors for their inginuity. In the end, the general public will decide what is acceptable and what is not.
I will say that some inventions were destined not to succeed on American Inventor because they do not meet the criteria of being mass marketed in 3 to 6 months. Not every invention can be merchandised on the shelves of Walmart and K-Mart in a matter of months. Certainly not BulletBall. Therefore BulletBall was predisposed not to move to the next round. But, I had a dramatic personal story worthy of TV time…..a trade-off I was willing to accept.
Reality TV Magazine: Do you have any plans to sell the game direct to the public? Do you have a website?
Marc Griffin: I am currently seeking investors for BulletBall. Everything is in place to launch the game. Manufacturers have been identified and the target market has been identified. I am currently working on a website to show my video presentation of the game.
The skills required to play BulletBall are similiar to playing ping-pong. Table Tennis is the second most popular sport in the world (soccer is #1) with over 160 million players (40 million in the United States). It is truly an international sport. BulletBall Extreme is more intense than Table Tennis because the volleys last longer and you are utilizing your own hands to put "english" on the ball to create unusual spins and motions. For those that enjoy playing ping-pong….you will LOVE playing BulletBall!!!!!
One of the most unique qualities of the game is this: One of the best BulletBall players is a 12 year old girl who can beat guys that are 18,19, and 20 years of age!
Reality TV Magazine: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your American Inventor audition?
Marc Griffin: I have not recieved my BulletBall Table back from the auditions in LA. It has been over 2 months and I have talked to several people connected with the show and have not gotten any answers. Prior to leaving LA I was assured by the American Inventor Team that my table would be shipped back to Chicago within a week. Can they be trusted? I’ll let you know.