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1. FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to athletic games and sports. More particularly, the present game includes elements of soccer, hockey, and American football. While the present game is directed primarily to a physical play embodiment, it may also be played as an electronic or board game simulating the physical game.
2. DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART
A number of athletic games are known, in which the object of the game is to advance a ball or other object into the opposing players' goal area. Examples of such are American football, hockey (ice and field), lacrosse, soccer, and rugby. These games all differ considerably from one another in their rules and play, but all have the essential common element of an offensive player or team attempting to advance an object (ball, hockey puck, etc.) across or into the opponents' goal.
Contrary to the name of the game, American football depends upon kicking the ball for only a small percentage of play. Scoring tends to be high, due primarily to the multiple points awarded for touchdowns. With eleven players on the field for each team, it can be difficult at times for even seasoned spectators to keep up with the location of the ball and progress of play.
Ice hockey is an extremely fast paced game involving a relatively few players, but requires a great deal of specialized equipment (e.g. ice rink, sticks, skates, etc.) for play. Field hockey requires somewhat less specialized equipment, being played on a turf field, but many fans (particularly in the U.S.) prefer the higher scores obtained in American football in comparison to hockey.
The last portion of the twentieth century has seen the game of soccer enjoying increasing popularity in the U.S. The relatively large field and ball, with only six players to a team, result in fast paced action but allow spectators to keep up with the action without undue difficulty. However, soccer (generally known as “football” in most areas of the world, other than the U.S.) is a traditionally low scoring game, with winning scores generally amounting to only two or perhaps three goals (points) for the entire game. Games often progress into scoreless overtimes, with the outcome finally being decided by a series of free kicks in alternating sequence by each player on the two teams, against the opposing goalie. Moreover, physical contact between players is quite limited in comparison to American football.
Thus, an athletic game solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
The athletic game includes elements of soccer, hockey, and American football, to provide a relatively high scoring and exciting game including limited physical contact between players. The game is played in a manner generally similar to soccer, i.e. players other than the goalies are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands during play. However, multiple points are awarded for goals and the goal scoring team is allowed the opportunity to try for an additional point(s) after scoring a goal, roughly analogous to the point after touchdown or two point conversion scoring permitted in American football. Limited physical contact between players is also permitted in the present game. The game may be played upon a natural or artificial turf field having dimensions similar to that of a standard ice hockey rink, including protective barriers surrounding the field. Alternatively, other field dimensions and configurations may be used, as desired. The present athletic game also lends itself well to electronic and board game representations of the game.
These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a playing field for play of the present athletic game, with a game being shown in play on the field.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the playing field of FIG. 1, showing further details thereof.
FIG. 3 is a flow chart disclosing the basic steps in the method of play of the present athletic game.
Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
The present invention comprises an athletic game which combines aspects of soccer, hockey, and American football into a novel game. While the present disclosure is directed primarily to a physical game played on a suitably equipped and configured playing field, it will be seen that the game may include electronic play and/or board game embodiments simulating the physical game as well, with such electronic and/or board game components correlating with equivalent parts of the physical game.
FIG. 1 of the drawings provides an environmental perspective view of an exemplary playing field for the present game, showing a game underway, with FIG. 2 providing a plan view of the layout of the playing field or surface. The playing field or surface 10 is generally rectangular in configuration, having two opposed, parallel side lines 12 and 14 and two opposed, parallel end or goal lines 16 and 18 normal thereto and defining the periphery of the playing area, as seen in FIG. 2. The corners 20 of the field are rounded in order to keep the game ball in play and avoid trapping or capturing the ball within a tight corner. The field 10 has a surrounding enclosure conterminous with its periphery comprising a solid, opaque lower wall 22 with an upper transparent barrier 24 (e.g., shatterproof tempered safety glass, etc.) extending upwardly therefrom, as shown in FIG. 1, which generally precludes escape of the ball from the playing field. The upper edge of the barrier 24 is preferably fairly high, e.g. ten feet (more or less) above the playing surface 10. The playing field surface 10 is preferably turf, either natural or artificial, as desired.
The playing surface or field 10 includes mutually opposed first and second goals, respectively 26 and 28, situated in the respective first and second ends 16 and 18 of the field. The opposed first and second ends of the lower wall 22 and upper barrier 24 (as needed) include first and second goal openings 30 therethrough (with one such opening being shown at the first goal 26 of FIG. 1), with the goals 26 and 28 each comprising a net extending through its respective opening. Each goal 26 and 28 has an open front 32 coplanar with the respective first or second end of the lower wall 22 and upper transparent barrier 24, to allow passage of a ball into the goal net. The open goal front 32 of the first goal 26 is shown in FIG. 1, with the two goals and surrounding structure being identical to one another. This configuration results in a completely enclosed playing field or area 10, with the enclosure assuring that the game ball will remain in play within the playing area at all times unless it enters either of the two goals 26 or 28, or is accidentally kicked or knocked over the upper edge of the barrier 24.
The playing surface or field 10 is preferably marked with a series of lines and points designating various areas and features of the field or surface. While some of these markings are indicated in FIG. 1 of the drawings, all are most clearly shown in FIG. 2. A laterally disposed midfield line 34 extends from the first side 12 to the second side 14 of the field 10, with a midfield face-off point 36 centered on the line 34. A midfield face-off circle 38 surrounds the face-off point 34, and is concentric therewith. Additional supplementary lines 40 may also extend across the field 10, parallel to the midfield line 34, to further divide the field into separate areas.
Penalty kick areas, respectively 42 and 44, extend inwardly, i.e. toward one another and toward the center of the field, respectively from each goal 26 and 28. Each penalty kick area 42, 44 includes a distal semicircular periphery, respectively 46 and 48, with the two semicircular arcs 46 and 48 oriented toward one another and toward the midfield line 34 and midfield face-off point 36 and circle 38. First and second proximal supplemental score kicking points, respectively 50 and 52, are disposed at the midpoint of each semicircular periphery 46 and 48, with first and second distal supplemental score kicking points, respectively 54 and 56, being located on the field somewhat farther from each respective goal 26, 28 than the respective first and second proximal supplemental score kicking points. The supplemental score kicking points 50 through 56 provide for positioning the kicking ball 58 (e.g., spherical soccer ball, or other suitable ball, as shown in play in FIG. 1) for supplemental scoring attempts following an initial multiple point scoring goal, with the distal kicking points 54, 56 providing higher supplemental scores due to their greater distance from their respective goals.
FIG. 3 provides a flow chart generally describing the basic steps in the method of play of the present athletic game. Initially, the playing field 10 and its accompanying structure and components are provided, and first and second teams, referees, and/or other personnel and equipment are organized, generally in keeping with the first step 100 of the flow chart of FIG. 3. The present game may be played on a less formal basis, or may be developed as an organized league, with multiple teams, stadiums, and other organizational structure as required. Alternatively, the above step 100 may be applied to electronic or board game play as well, through analogous representations of the components described above.
Each team preferably comprises six players, although more or fewer players may be provided for each team as desired, depending upon specific provisions of the rules, the size of the playing field, etc. A six player team is preferably formed of three forward players comprising a left wing, a striker (center), and a right wing, and three more rearwardly disposed players comprising a left safety, a goalie, and a right safety. These positions may be adjusted as desired. The game is initiated by a drop ball in the center of the field, with the referee dropping the ball over the midfield face-off point 36. The six forward players (three from each team) are arrayed about the face-off point 36 and surrounding face-off circle 38. This process is described generally in the second step 102 of FIG. 3.
The object of the game is to maneuver the game ball (kicking ball, soccer ball, etc.) into the opposing team's goal. Players may contact and maneuver the ball with any part of their bodies except the hands, i.e., feet, legs, hips, shoulders, head, etc. The only exception to this is for the goalie of each team, with goalies permitted to handle the ball with their hands when propelling the ball from their respective penalty kick areas adjacent their goals. This rule or requirement is generally analogous to the ball handling or maneuvering rules for soccer.
However, the rules of the present game permit much greater contact between members of opposing teams, than do the rules of conventional soccer. In the present game, all defensive players are permitted to attempt to place upper body blocks upon the single offensive player controlling the ball. (Those offensive team players not handling the ball, are not permitted to come into physical contact with defensive team players.) It will be seen that this will greatly increase the chances of the defensive team gaining control of the ball (and thus becoming the offensive team), and further encourages the transfer (“passing”) of the ball between members of the offensive team. Only upper body contact is permitted, i.e. contact above the waist; tripping, tackling, and other lower body contact between offensive and defensive players is not permitted, and will result in penalties against the guilty player(s) when detected. This rule is described generally in the third step 104 of FIG. 3.
Penalties are determined and administered by one or more referees provided for the game, generally as indicated by the fourth step 106 of the flow chart of FIG. 3. This step is interconnected with all other steps from the second or “start game” step 102, as rule infractions may occur at any point in the game. Normally, the cadre of referees would comprise a main or head referee and his/her assistant, and a timekeeper. The referee staff may be adjusted as deemed necessary. The referees (particularly the head referee and assistant) determine fouls by players, and administer penalties in accordance with the severity of the fouls and the rules of play. Penalties may comprise a free kick (i.e., a kick toward the opposing team's goal, without interference by the defending team other than the goalie defending the goal) by a player on the offensive team who has been fouled while controlling the ball; turning the ball over from the initially offensive team to the opposite team (thereby making that team the subsequent offensive team controlling the ball), when the initially offensive team has committed a foul; and/or temporary suspension or ejection from the game of a player committing a foul.
The team on offense, i.e. the team controlling the ball, attempts to advance the ball down the field and into the opposing team's goal, generally in accordance with the fifth step 108 of the flow chart of FIG. 3. Opposing defensive team players attempt to block the offensive player controlling the ball, and/or intercept the ball as it is passed or transferred between players on the offensive side. The defensive team goalie is the final defensive player attempting to stop the scoring drive by preventing the ball from entering the goal net, by blocking the path of the ball, catching the ball with his/her hands, or otherwise preventing the ball from traveling through the open front of the goal.
The above described scoring procedure is generally in keeping with the game of soccer. However, the present game provides multiple points for a successful score, in accordance with the sixth step 110 of FIG. 3. This is a unique and novel means of scoring in such an athletic game, and adds considerable interest and excitement to the game. The number of points provided for a successful score may be adjusted as desired by those organizing the rules of play for the present game, but an exemplary multiple point score could be six points, which has proven to be a reasonable score for a touchdown in American football.
Moreover, the present game also provides supplemental scoring opportunities for the team scoring a multiple point goal, immediately following the successful score. In the event of a multiple point goal by one team, that team is permitted to place the ball upon one of the two supplemental scoring points nearest the goal just used for the multiple point score, i.e. the proximal or distal supplemental scoring points 50 or 54 for the first goal 26, or the proximal or distal supplemental scoring points 52 or 56 for the second goal 28. Supplemental points, or “points after goal,” are preferably awarded in accordance with the difficulty of making the supplemental score, i.e. the distance of the supplemental scoring point from the respective goal. As an example of the above, a team scoring a multiple point goal in the first goal 26 may place the ball on the first proximal supplemental scoring point 50, and attempt a point after goal of only one point (if successful). If that team wishes to gain more points (at some higher risk that the attempt will be unsuccessful), then the ball may be placed on the first distal supplemental scoring point 54. As in the case of free kicks, the goalie for the goal will attempt to block the ball from entering the goal during such a point after goal attempt, with it being easier to stop the attempt from the distal supplemental scoring point than from the proximal point. This supplemental scoring procedure is indicated generally by the seventh step 112 of the flow chart of FIG. 3.
The present game proceeds in accordance with the above procedure and rules of play until the end of the game is reached, with the team having the highest score winning the game. The duration of the game may be determined in accordance with the passage of a total amount of predetermined time, e.g. an hour, etc., as determined by the rules of play. The referee(s) may suspend the passage of game time in accordance with the rules, e.g. to put the ball back in play after a score or travel of the ball out of bounds, to provide half time or quarter time breaks, etc. Other factors may be used to set the end of the game, as desired, e.g. the passage of a predetermined real time period regardless of breaks in play, the reaching of some predetermined point in time (e.g., sunset, curfew, etc.), the reaching of some predetermined score by a team, difference in scores between the two teams, or total score by both teams, etc., as desired or set by the predetermined rules of play. The eighth and final step 114 of FIG. 3 generally indicates these provisions.
Preferably, the duration of the present athletic game is determined in accordance with the passage of a predetermined period of playing time, with playing time suspended for breaks in the game as described further above. It is anticipated that the provision for multiple point scoring, in addition to the provision for single or multiple point after goal attempts in accordance with the desires of the scoring team, will result in the two teams having different scores at the end of the game. In other words, tie end games are anticipated to be relatively uncommon in the present game. Where such tie scores occur, the present game includes provisions for resolving the tie and establishing a clear winner.
One means of establishing a winning team when the score is tied at the end of regulation play, is by providing an overtime period. Play may proceed conventionally after a drop ball face-off in the center of the field, as was used to start the game initially. The first team to score, wins the game. In instances where the game remains tied even after an overtime period (or perhaps multiple overtime periods, in accordance with the rules of play established for the game), the two teams may be provided with a series of alternating free kicks in order to attempt to produce a score. In this scenario, a first player from the first team would attempt to kick the ball into one of the goal nets, with the first player from the opposing second team following with his or her attempt. This process continues until all players (excepting the goalies) have attempted to kick a score. The team having the highest cumulative score after this procedure, wins the game. The process may continue through more than one round until the tie is broken, but with all players from both teams (again, excepting the goalies) having the opportunity to attempt to score during each round before the scores are totaled.
In conclusion, the present athletic game combines a collection of features of various games into a new and different game differing from all previously known conventional games. The present game, with its multiple point scoring for goals, results in a much higher scoring game than other such games where only a single point is awarded for each goal. Further scoring opportunities are presented by the point after goal provision, with the offensive team determining whether to attempt a single or multiple point supplemental score. The limited physical contact between players permitted by the rules of the present game, add yet another element of excitement and interest to the game. Yet, while the present game is directed primarily to a physical, athletic game, it will be seen that the rules of play may be readily adapted for use in an electronic or board game, as desired. Accordingly, the present game will prove to be a most interesting and challenging activity for players and spectators alike.
It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.