Title:
Apparatus for supporting a goal upright
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for use with goals, preferably soccer goals, includes a support (101) that is capable of preventing the rotation of the goal, particularly when the goal is tipped, and is movably connected an upright (103). When a goal is tipped, gravity causes the support (101) that is hingedly connected to upright (103) to maintain an approximately vertical position while the upright (103) moves as the goal tips. As the goal tips, the support (101) moves within a desired range relative to the upright (103). When the support (101) contacts the play field, rotation of the goal stops.



Inventors:
Tennett Sr., Daniel P. (Gurnee, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/075558
Publication Date:
09/14/2006
Filing Date:
03/09/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/446, 473/478
International Classes:
F41J1/10; A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ronald, Andermann E. (719 S. Ridge Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL, 60005, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: at least one upright; and a support that is movably connected to the upright, wherein the support is capable of preventing the rotation of the apparatus by moving within a desired range relative to the upright.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a restraint that is connected to the upright and to the support and is capable of limiting the movement of the support relative to the upright to a desired range.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a channel along a lateral length of the upright, wherein the channel is capable of receiving the support.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein an outer surface of the support forms an approximately continuous surface with a proximately close outer surface of the upright.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a base attached to a bottom end of the upright.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the support is extendable.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising a locking mechanism that is capable of locking the support in an extended position.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright has a generally cylindrical shape.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright has a generally rectilinear shape.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright is a part of a sport goal wherein the sport goal is from a group consisting a soccer goal; a basketball goal; a football goal; a field hockey goal, an ice hockey goal, and a lacrosse goal.

11. An apparatus comprising: a cross member connected to a first upright having a first channel, and a second upright having a second channel; a first support that is capable of fitting in the first channel and having a first end that is hingedly mounted to the first upright; a first restraint movably mounted to the first upright and to the first support; a second support that is capable of fitting in the second channel and having a first end that is hingedly mounted to the second upright; and a second restraint movably mounted to the second upright and to the second support.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising a base connected to the first upright and to the second upright.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the base generally extends only on one side of a plane formed by the first upright, the second upright, and the cross member.

14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the first restraint is capable of limiting the movement of the first support relative to the first upright.

15. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the second restraint is capable of limiting the movement of the second support relative to the second upright.

16. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein a first end of the first restraint is hingedly connected to the first support and a second end of the first restraint is slideably connected to the first channel.

17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein a first end of the second restraint is hingedly connected to the second support and a second end of the second restraint is slideably connected to the second channel.

18. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the first support is extendable.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, further comprising a first locking mechanism that is capable of locking the first support in an extended position.

20. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the second support is extendable.

21. The apparatus of claim 20, further comprising a second locking mechanism that is capable of locking the second support in an extended position.

22. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the first upright and the second upright are part of a sport goal wherein the sport goal is from a group consisting a soccer goal a football goal, a field hockey goal, an ice hockey goal, and a lacrosse goal.

23. A method comprising the steps of: installing an apparatus in a upright of a goal used for sporting activities, wherein the apparatus has a support that is capable of stopping the movement of the upright; and contacting a surface that supports the goal with a first end of the support.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein the first end of the support contacts the surface by tipping the goal such that gravity causes the support to rotate away from the upright.

25. The method of claim 23, further comprising the step of extending the support.

26. A method of claim 25, further comprising the step of locking the support in an extended position with a locking mechanism.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

The present invention does not involve any form of federally sponsored research or development.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to goals used with sporting activities including, but not limited to, goals that have supports that prevent goal uprights from contacting the ground when the goal is tipped. Devices and methods for use in securing goals so as to prevent tipping, particularly soccer goals, are known. Goals are typically formed by attaching netting to a frame structure. The frame structure typically includes uprights, and cross-bars, but can also include a base, back-stops, and so forth. For example, a soccer goal typically includes a cross-bar that is attached across two uprights so as to form an opening through which a ball must pass to score a goal. In addition, the soccer goal typically has a base to which the uprights are attached. The design of the base can depend on whether the goal is permanently or temporarily located at the playing filed. Permanent goals, such as those used at a dedicated stadium, can have a base that includes a foundation or anchors sunken in the playing field. More commonly soccer goals are temporarily located at the playing field and are movable. For example, soccer goals used at local community parks, schools, sports complexes, and so forth, are temporarily located at the playing field to allow other uses of the facility. Movable or temporary soccer goals typically have a base that consists of a metal framework that extends on one side of a goal plane formed by the uprights and the cross-bar. For a typical moveable goal, the base is generally formed by conduits that are connected perpendicular to the uprights and extend away form the goal plane. The conduits are typically connected to other conduits so that an enclosure capable of containing balls can be formed when netting is applied.

A typical temporary or movable soccer goal has a framework constructed of metal that can be quiet heavy, and weigh up to several hundred pounds. Although a goal can have substantial weight, a typical movable soccer goal is susceptible to tipping because the structural weight is located on one side of the goal plane. To prevent tipping the goal can be anchored to the ground by the use of stacks connected to the frame base, sandbags placed on the frame base, and so forth. Unfortunately, because of the movable nature of the soccer goal, and for a variety of reasons such as moving goals for practice, moving goals for field maintenance, and so forth, the goal are often not securely anchored and pose a hazard. Tipping of an inadequately anchored soccer goal can be initiated by seeming innocuous behavior such as an individual hanging from the cross-bar. Because public facilities such as community parks, and so forth, typically use movable goals, goal tipping can occur during periods when playing fields are unsupervised. Although a moveable soccer goal is light enough to be moved with some effort, a typical goal can weigh up to several hundred pounds. When tipped and because of the weight of a soccer goal, the uprights and cross-bar have been known to strike, severely injure, and even kill soccer players.

Goal tipping can be eliminated by permanently anchoring the goal to the ground such as by cementing the uprights into a foundation. Unfortunately, permanent anchoring of a goal can limit the use of the facilities such as community parks, playing fields, and so forth for other activities. As a result temporary goal are used extensively. Although temporary goal are not permanently anchored, the goals are typically used with removable anchoring systems. When properly in place removable anchoring systems can securely anchor a goal to the ground. Unfortunately, the removable nature of the anchors poses a problem because the anchors may not be in place for a number of reasons. Precautionary placards and labels that state the importance of proper anchoring can be attached to goals, but often prove to be ineffective.

Because of actual personal injuries caused by a tipped soccer goal, public facilities and communities that make soccer fields and goals available for general use have required the locking of opposing goals together when not in use so as to reduce the potential for injury caused by tipping during the unsupervised use of a goal. Soccer goals typically weigh up to several hundred pounds and moving and locking goals together can be a significant inconvenience, can require significant effort, and can be a potential risk for injury. Further, locking goal together effectively eliminates any legitimate unsupervised or causal use of the goals. The causal use of the playing field can also be compromised because locked- or chained-together goals are often located on the playing field, typically in the middle. Yet, other goal systems propose a base that has elements that extend on either side of the goal plane. Unfortunately, part or all of the extension typically extends into the playing field and creates a tripping hazard. The tripping hazard can be reduced by designing extendable base elements that can be retracted during play and practice; however, when such base elements are retracted, the goal faces the same tipping potential as conventional movable goals.

Accordingly, there is a need for an apparatus that prevents moveable goals, such as soccer goals, from tipping and causing goal components such as uprights and cross-bar to move towards the playing surface in such a manner as to strike, trap, and severely injure individuals while not overly restricting the use, access to, and movement of the goal.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An apparatus and a method for use to prevent the tipping of goals used for sporting activities are provided. The apparatus includes a support attached to an upright such that the support is capable of moving within a desired range relative to the upright and contacting the playing surface so as to stop and prevent the tipping movement of the goal. The steps of the method include installing an apparatus having a support in a goal upright, and contacting an end of the support with a surface upon which the goal is supported.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an apparatus for supporting an upright of a soccer goal in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a soccer goal in a tipped position having the support of the apparatus positioned against the playing surface in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates an apparatus having an extension and a locking mechanism attached to the support as part of a soccer goal in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an apparatus retrofitted to the upright of an existing soccer goal in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

An apparatus for and method of supporting uprights of a goal so as to prevent or stop the tipping of the goal are described. The apparatus includes a support that is hingedly connected to an upright having a channel that is capable of accepting the support. When the goal is tipped, gravity causes the support to move relative to the upright. When the support moves within a desired position relative to the upright and contacts the playing surface, the rotational movement of the tipped goal can be stopped. The movement and position of the support relative to the upright can be limited to a desired range by a restraint that is connected to the upright and the support.

An apparatus for supporting an upright of a soccer goal is shown in FIG. 1. The apparatus includes a support 101 that is movably connected to an upright 103. In this particular embodiment, the support 101 attaches to a hinge 105 mounted inside a channel 107 of the upright 103. Preferably, the support 101 is positioned such that proximately close surfaces of the upright and support form a generally uniform shape such that the support 101 appears to be part of the upright 103. Optionally, the support 101 can have an outer element with a surface that forms a generally continues surface with the surface of the support 101 when the support 101 is positioned in the channel 107. Alternatively, the support 101 can be connected to the upright 103 preferably by positioning the hinge 105 to allow the support 101 to hang laterally along an outer surface of the upright 103.

Besides the support 101 mounted to an upright 103, a typical soccer goal includes a cross-bar 115 attached the two uprights 103. The cross-bar and uprights form a goal plane through which a ball must pass to score. The uprights 103 are also attached to a base 117 that supports the soccer goal on the playing field and extends behind the goal plane. Conduits 119 on either side of the goal are connected to an upright 103 and the base 117 so as to form an enclosure for trapping soccer balls when netting 121 is applied.

When the soccer goal is on a generally level playing field, gravity cause the support 101 to rest within the channel 107 as shown on the left-hand side of the goal in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the support 101 can be grasped and force applied to rotate the support 101 out of the channel 107 and away from the upright 103 as shown on the right-hand side of the goal in FIG. 1. The movement of the support 101 relative to the upright 103 can be limited to a desired range by a restraint 109 that can be movably attached to the support 101 and the channel 107. Depending on goal construction including the specific mechanical layout of the goal, material of construction, center of gravity, netting, framework, base, and so forth, the deployment of supports beyond a desired range of movement may not stop goal movement and can result in continued forward movement of the goal, tumbling of the goal, and so forth. How the restraint 109 is connected to the support 101 and the upright 103 can depend on the type of restraint used. For example, a non-rigid restraint that is a chain, rope, elastic band, and so forth can be connected by fixing a first end of the chain to the support at a connection 113. A second end of the chain can be attached to a guide 111 mounted in the channel 107. Alternatively, when using a rigid restraint such as a metal rod, bar, and so forth, movable connections such as by hinges, and other movable assemblies can be used to connect the restraint to the support 101 and upright 103.

When the goal is located on a typical level playing surface, the restraint 109 is hidden from view. Alternatively, restraints can be designed to attach in a variety of ways to the support and/or the upright. The restraint can also employ the use of other restraining devices such as stops, springs, levers, grooves, straps, belts, and so forth, and can be exposed, as opposed to being hidden, when the goal is properly positioned for use on a level playing surface.

A soccer goal in a tipped position having the support of the apparatus positioned against the playing surface is as shown in FIG. 2. When not anchored securely a typical soccer goal can be tipped by placing enough force on the goal. For example, goal tipping can occur when a player inadvertently grasps and hangs from the cross-bar 115. As the goal tips, gravity causes the support 101 to rotate at the hinge 105 connected to the upright 103. Gravity will tend to keep the support in a general vertical position as the goal tips until a restraint 109 that is connected to both the support 101 and the upright 103 limits further movement of the support 101. With the support's 101 position limited to within a desired range by the restraint 109, a bottom end 201 of the support 101 contacts with the playing surface 203 so as to stop the rotation or tipping of the goal and the goal will be in a reasonably stable position.

An apparatus having an extension and a locking mechanism attached to the support as part of a soccer goal is shown in FIG. 3. In this embodiment an extension 301 is movable attached to the support 101. Generally, the extension 301 is positioned on the support 101 in a retracted position so that the support 101 can be freely received into the channel 107 in the upright 103. The extension 301 can also be position on the support 101 so as to form a longer or extended support. The extensions are preferably used so that a first end of the extension can be automatically or manually adjusted, expanded, formed, and/or modified so as to be proximately close the playing field and provide a more stable means for supporting a tipable goal. Typically, to deploy or adjust the extension 310, the support 101 is grasped and moved away from the upright 103. The extension 301 is then position along the support 101 at a desired position. For example, the support 101 and the extension 301 can have complementary tough and groove elements that allows the support 101 and extension 301 to pass adjacent to each other while remaining proximately close. A pin that passes through complementary holes on the support and the extension can be used to fix the position of the extension. Alternately, other systems such as complementary teeth on the extension and support, ratchet type mechanisms, and so forth can be used so as to be able to move and then fix the relative extension position on the support. Once the extension 301 is fixed in position the extension can be released so as to contact the playing field.

Preferably, the extensions 301 are used when the goal are to be left unattended. For example, when a game or supervised practice ends, the extensions 301 can be placed in the extended position. In the extended position, the extensions will substantially reduce the ability to tip the goal. To insure that the extensions 301 remain deployed when the goal is left unattended, a locking mechanism 303 can be attached to secure the extension 301 to a fixed position on the support 101. For example, if a pin system holds the extension 301 in position on the support 101, then the locking mechanism 303 could be used to prevent pin removal. When supervised use of the goal is again planned, the locking mechanism 303 can be released, and the extension 301 retracted so that the support 101 can again be received into the channel 107.

An apparatus retrofitted to the upright of an existing soccer goal is shown in FIG. 4. A typical soccer goal is formed by an upright 103 attached to a base 117, a crossbar 115 and conduits 119 so as to form an enclosure that can be partially covered by netting. A typical upright 103 can be formed from rectangular metal, angle iron, other rigid material such a plastics, and so forth and has an inner volume that can be used for the channel 107. Alternatively, the upright can be formed in a cylindrical shape having an inner volume that can also be utilized for the channel 107. An existing soccer goal can be modified by removing a portion of the outer surface of the upright so as to form, expose, and provide access to the channel 107. Alternatively, new soccer goals can be manufactured with supports already installed in the upright or the upright can have removable outer surfaces that facilitate the installation of supports at some time after manufacture.

Once the channel 107 is exposed, the support 101 can be mounted to the upright 103 by a hinge 105 that is mounted inside an upper portion of the channel 107. Preferably, the support 101 and the hinge 105 are designed to be capable of allowing the support 101 to hang inside the channel 107 in a recessed position that makes the support appear to be part of the upright. For example, the support 101 can include an outer plate that has an outer surface that appears to form an outer surface of the upright 103 when the support 101 is in a normal position of hanging inside the channel 107. The outer plate facilitates a hidden appearance of the apparatus such that the upright appears to have a continuous outer surface.

In this embodiment the restraint 109 is movably connected to the support 101 and the upright 103. For example, a first end of restraint 109 is rotatably attached to the support 101 by a first securable pin 401, such as a pin that can be secured with a cotter pin. A second end of the restraint 109 is slideably attached inside the channel 107 of the upright 103 through a guide 111 that can be slotted. In this example, the second end of the restraint 109 is attached to an anchor 405 that is held in place by the guide 111 that is attached to the channel 107. A second securable pin 403 can be used to movably attach the second end of the restraint 109 to the slidable anchor 405. The guide 111 is formed such that the anchor 405 can slideably move through a space formed behind the guide 111 and the inner surface of the upright 103. For example, the guide can have a slot thorough which the restraint be attached to the anchor and through which the restraint can move when the support is being deployed. Movement of the anchor 405 can be facilitated by the use of bearings, rollers, and so forth that reduce frictional resistance to the movement of the anchor.

Optionally, an extension 301 can be movably attached to the support 101. The locking mechanism 303 is used to secure the extension 301 at a fixed position relative to support. For example, the locking mechanism could include a pin, clip, other types of mechanical fasteners, and so forth that can be secured or locked in position. Preferably, the extension 301 and locking mechanism 303 are designed to be hidden when the support 101 is in the nominal position in the channel 107. Typically, the extension 301 is used when the soccer goal is unsupervised. In this situation, the extension 301 is deployed by grasping and swinging the support 101 outward away from the upright 103. While continuing to grasp the support 101, the extension 301 is deployed and locked with the locking mechanism 303 in position along the support 101. The extended support is then allowed to rest on the playing surface, e.g. the ground.

A method for preventing the tipping of a goal used for sporting activities includes the steps of installing an apparatus having a support in an upright of the goal, and contacting an end of the support with the playing surface that supports the goal. At the apparatus installation step, the support 101 is hingedly connected to an upper section of the upright 103. The installation step can be applied so as to retrofit an existing goal with an apparatus. Such a retrofit typically requires the removal of a portion of the upright so as to expose an inner volume of the upright that forms the channel 107 that will accept the support. Additionally, other components that facilitate forming the channel 107 and the adjacent upright surfaces can be installed.

The step of contacting an end of the support with the playing surface, e.g. the ground, can be the tipping of the goal such that gravity causes the support to rotate out of the channel 107 to a desired position as limited by the restraint 109. Alternatively, this step can include grasping and moving of the support 101 out of the channel 107. An extension 301 at an end of the support 101 can be extended until contact is made with the playing surface. Alternatively, the extension can be partially extended and the support released and allowed to contact the playing surface. Preferably, after the extension 301 is extended to a desired position and the locking mechanism 303 is engaged so as to lock the extension 301 in position on the support 101. The deploying and locking of the extension 301 is preferably used to reduce goal tipping during unsupervised goal use.

Although the present invention is illustrated by the example of an apparatus for use with soccer goals, the present invention may be applied to football goals, field hockey goals, lacrosse goals, ice hockey goals, movable basketball goals, other kinds of tipable device having uprights, and so forth.

The present invention provides a number of advantages, including an apparatus that can prevent a temporary or movable sport goal such as a soccer goal from falling over when tipped and potentially contacting, trapping, injuring, including fatal injuries, and so forth players, goalies, and other individuals that come in close proximity to the goal. By reducing the potential for the complete tipping over of a goal, the invention advantageously reduces the possibility of serious personal injury or death cause by tipping the goal. Because the present invention has protective supports that fit within goal upright, the playing field in front of the goal is not obstructed and the goal can be used without additional concerns about tripping or injuring players with goal components that extend into the playing field. At the same time, the invention advantageously allows for effective anti-tipping protection in the case of ineffective anchoring of the goal and associated netting. The invention can also advantageously eliminate the need to move and chain goals together when not in use by deploying and locking into place extensions that are part of the supports of the invention.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.