Title:
Self-righting sports pole
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A yieldable sports pole supported entirely above ground in a vertical orientation by a flexible bladder filled with a weighting fluid. A central opening through the bladder receives the pole. Underlying the bladder and connected to the pole is a ground engaging disc fabricated of a semi-rigid, resiliently springy material. When the pole is tilted to one side, as when experiencing an impact, the disc member and flexible bladder act in combination to cause the pole to return to an upright orientation.



Inventors:
Best, William B. (Norfolk, MA, US)
Purciello, John F. (Quincy, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/283392
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
11/18/2005
Assignee:
Franklin Sports, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B67/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Joseph, Bowman B. (5441 EAST GLENEAGLES DRIVE, TUCSON, AZ, 85718-1805, US)
Claims:
Having thus described our invention, we claim:

1. A self-righting and freestanding sports pole comprising: an elongate pole member having a vertically upright orientation; a flexible bladder to be filled with a weighting fluid and having a central opening therethrough to received said pole member; and a semi-rigid, springy substrate underlying said bladder in ground engaging support and being connected to said pole member; whereby said bladder and substrate influence said pole member to return to its vertically upright orientation after being tilted to the side.

2. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 1, said pole member comprising a plurality of interlocking sections.

3. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 1, said pole member comprising a plurality of telescoping sections.

4. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 1, said pole member having a central, vertical longitudinal axis and said bladder defining a volume uniformly distributed around said central axis of said pole member.

5. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 4, said pole member being cylindrical and said bladder defining a toroid volume with a central circular opening therethrough having a diameter substantially equal to the diameter of said pole member.

6. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 5, said substrate having a ground engaging area and a bladder supporting area, both said areas being uniformly distributed around said central axis of said pole member.

7. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 4, said pole member being cylindrical, said bladder defining a toroid volume with a central circular opening therethrough having a diameter substantially equal to the diameter of said pole member, and said substrate formed as a circular disk with an outer diameter substantially equal to the outer diameter of said bladder.

8. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 4, said , said pole member being cylindrical, said bladder defining a toroid volume with a central circular opening therethrough having a diameter substantially equal to the diameter of said pole member, and said substrate formed as a circular disk with a ground engaging area and a bladder supporting area, both said areas being uniformly distributed around said central axis of said pole member.

9. The self-righting and freestanding sports pole as in claim 1, said second chamber being fabricated of a water impervious material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

There are no related applications.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

The inventions described and claimed in this application were not made under federally sponsored research and development.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a self-righting pole. More specifically, this invention relates to a vertically oriented, freestanding sports pole which upon impact will automatically return to its original upright orientation.

In various sports and games the need frequently arises to have one or more vertically oriented standards or poles to hold a variety of suspended items such as flags, nets, or fabric panels. For example, in the game “capture the flag”, the object is for one team to retrieve the opposing team's flag suspended from a pole. The sports of badminton and volleyball utilize a pair of standards between which a net is suspended. Most often, sports poles of this genre are unyieldably anchored in the ground or supported by guy wires or ropes staked in the ground. Such poles or their anchor means can be the source of physical injury to players as a result of accidental impact or tripping.

Therefore, a need exists in the sports industry to provide a safe and self-righting sports pole which is freestanding without the aid of tiedown ropes or ground stakes and which is yielding upon impact. The primary objective of this invention is to meet this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

More specifically, an object of the invention is to provide a yieldable sports pole which may be vertically oriented and safely supported above ground level without the use of tiedowns or ground stakes.

Another object of the invention is to provide a sports pole of the character described which may be supported vertically by a flexible weighting base which is yielding upon contact in order to reduce risk of injury.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a sports pole adapted to yieldingly tilt upon contact by a player in order to reduce risk of injury.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a sports pole of the character described which causes the sports pole to automatically return to its intended upright position after being tilted to the side upon impact.

A further object of the invention is to provide a sports pole of the character described which is compact in storage and easily transportable.

In summary, a yieldable sports pole supported entirely above ground in a vertical orientation by a flexible bladder filled with a weighting fluid. A central opening through the bladder receives the pole. Underlying the bladder and connected to the pole is a ground engaging disc fabricated of a semi-rigid, resiliently springy material. When the pole is tilted to one side, as when experiencing an impact, the disc member and flexible bladder act in combination to cause the pole to return to an upright orientation.

Other and further objects of the invention, together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear in the course of the detailed description of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following description of the drawings, in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like parts in the various views:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a self-righting and freestanding sports pole constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective of the sports pole illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged side elevational view of the sports pole in its vertically upright orientation; and

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side elevational view similar to that of FIG. 3 but illustrating the pole tilted to one side.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring to the drawings in greater detail there is illustrated a pole member 10 of any convenient length fabricated from a solid or tubular pipe in one or more sections. If the pole member 10 is fabricated from multiple sections, they may be interlocking or telescoping to facilitate assembly into a preselected length. The pole member 10 illustrated in the drawings is tubular in form.

In order to properly function as a sports pole, the pole member is intended to be oriented in a substantially vertical, upright position with respect to its central, longitudinal axis 12. Accordingly, one end of the pole is connected to a ground engaging, planar support 14 having a central hole 16 therethrough to receive a connection plug 20 inserted into the end of the pole member 10. Although illustrated in a circular shape, the planar support 14 may be of any convenient circular, square or triangular form so long as the area of the support 14 is substantially uniformly distributed around the longitudinal vertical axis of the pole member 10. For reasons which will be subsequently explained, the planar support 14 is preferably fabricated from a semi-rigid but resiliently springy material so as to be flexibly bent a limited amount and then return to its flat, planar configuration.

Surrounding the pole member 10 is collapsible bladder 22 equipped with a fill valve 24 for filling the bladder 22 with an appropriate weighting fluid such as water. The bladder 22 has a central hole 26 therethrough which is substantially the same diameter as the outside diameter of the pole member 10 so that the pole member 10 may be received through the central hole 26 of the bladder. It will be understood that the bladder 22 is preferably fabricated of durable, water impermeable fabric material for containing a volume water as appropriate. Although illustrated in a toroid or doughnut shape, the flexible bladder 22 may be of any convenient volumetric form such as a toroid, pyramid, cube, cylinder, cone, or some amorphous structure so long as the bladder 22 defines and contains a volume uniformly distributed around the central axis of the pole member 10. In size, water bladder 22 must be of sufficient capacity or volume, based on water weighing approximately 8 pounds per gallon, so as to hold the pole member 10 in a substantially upright orientation when any accessories such as a flag, net or fabric panel is connected to the pole member 10. By way of example, a sports pole intended for use in the game “capture the flag” will require a bladder 22 having a capacity to contain about a gallon of water. This is sufficient to hold the pole member 10 with a flag (not shown) connected to the upper end in a vertical, upright position when the bladder 22 is disposed around the pole 10 and supported on the planar disc 14.

In operation, and assuming the sports pole is in its collapsed condition for the purposes of storage and transport, the sections of the pole member 10 may be assembled and locked together in end-to-end fashion. Inserted through the opening 26 in the bladder 22, the pole member 10 may be connected to the support disc 14 with the plug 20. When placed on the ground 28, the bladder 22 may then be filled with water to support the pole member 10 in a vertical, upright position as illustrated in FIG. 3. One such sports pole may be sufficient for a game such as “capture the flag” while two or more such sports poles will be necessary to hold a net or fabric panel for various other games. The support base provided by the planar disc 14 in combination with the bladder 22 provides a means for a non-rigid support structure which upon contact will merely flex and provide a cushioned impact to minimize the possibility of injury.

In the event the pole member 10 is contacted during play, it-merely bends or tilts with the impact as illustrated in FIG. 4. This causes the planar disc 14 to slightly flex but continue to support the bulk of the bladder 22 which influences the bladder and support disc 14 to return to rest on the ground 28 as indicated by the arrow. This feature also helps minimize the possibility of injury by a sports pole rigidly connected to the ground.

From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all the ends and objects hereinabove set forth, together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the invention.

It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.





 
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