Title:
Portable Self-Erecting Sports Goal
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable, self-erecting sports goal has a frame sufficiently flexible to be re-positioned between a goal configuration and a storage configuration without requiring disassembly of the frame. The frame includes first and second goal posts interconnected at upper ends thereof by a crossbar, a first base bar extending rearward from a lower end of a first goal post, a second base bar extending rearward from a lower end of a second goal post, and a base rail interconnecting the ends of the first and second base bars opposite the goal posts. In the goal configuration, the base bars and base rail support the sports goal on an underlying ground surface and the goal posts and crossbar cooperate to define a substantially rectangular goal mouth extending upright from the underlying ground surface. In the storage configuration, the frame is twisted and folded upon itself into a substantially flat and compact position enabling the sports goal to be readily carried and stored.



Inventors:
Caruso, Anthony (Center Valley, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/552202
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
10/24/2006
Assignee:
KWIK GOAL LTD. (Quakertown, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41J1/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOWSON & HOWSON LLP (325 Sentry Parkway East, Five Sentry East Suite 160, Blue Bell, PA, 19422, US)
Claims:
1. A portable, self-erecting sports goal, comprising: a frame sufficiently flexible to be re-positioned between a goal configuration and a storage configuration without requiring disassembly of said frame; said frame including first and second goal posts interconnected at upper ends thereof by a crossbar, a first base bar extending rearward from a lower end of said first goal post, a second base bar extending rearward from a lower end of said second goal post, and a base rail interconnecting ends of said first and second base bars opposite said first and second goal posts, thereby providing an endless frame; in said goal configuration, said base bars and base rail support said sports goal on an underlying ground surface and said goal posts and crossbar cooperate to define a substantially rectangular goal mouth extending upright from the underlying ground surface; and in said storage configuration, said frame is twisted and folded upon itself into a substantially flat and compact position enabling said sports goal to be readily carried and stored.

2. A sports goal according to claim 1, wherein, in said storage configuration, said goal posts and base bars overlap to form a V-shaped section and said crossbar and base rail overlap to form an arcuate section, said V-shaped and arcuate sections providing said frame with a substantially flat pie-shape.

3. A sports goal according to claim 2, wherein, in said storage configuration, said first goal post extends adjacent said second base bar to form one leg of said V-shaped section, said second goal post extends adjacent said first base bar to form the other leg of said V-shaped section, and said crossbar extends adjacent said base rail to form said arcuate section.

4. A sports goal according to claim 3, further comprising a fastener to releasably secure said frame in said storage configuration.

5. A sports goal according to claim 3, wherein, in said storage configuration, said frame is in a pre-tensioned condition enabling an amount of energy required to position said frame in said storage configuration to be used to permit said frame to resiliently self-erect into said goal configuration.

6. A sports goal according to claim 1, wherein, in said goal configuration, said crossbar extends at substantially right angles from said goal posts, said base rail extends at substantially right angles from said base bars, and said base bars extend at substantially right angles from said goal posts.

7. A sports goal according to claim 6, wherein said frame consists of said goal posts, said crossbar, said base bars, and said base rail, and wherein said frame retains itself in said goal configuration.

8. A sports goal according to claim 6, wherein each of said goal posts and base bars is of an identical first pre-determined length.

9. A sports goal according to claim 8, wherein each of said crossbar and base rail is of an identical second pre-determined length, and wherein said second pre-determined length is greater than said first pre-determined length.

10. A sports goal according to claim 9, wherein said second pre-determined length is equal to about (π/2) multiplied by the first predetermined length.

11. A sports goal according to claim 9, further comprising a first elbow connector interconnecting said first goal post to said first base bar and a second elbow connector interconnecting said second goal post to said second base bar.

12. A sports goal according to claim 11, wherein each of said goal posts and base bars is elongate, extends along a straight line path, and is rotatable about its longitudinal axis relative to said connectors.

13. A sports goal according to claim 12, further comprising locking fasteners for securing ends of said goal posts and base bars to said connectors while enabling said goal posts and base bars to be rotatable about their longitudinal axis relative to said connectors.

14. A sports goal according to claim 9, further comprising six elbow connectors, separate ones of said connectors interconnecting said first goal post to said first base bar, said second goal post to said second base bar, said crossbar to said first goal post, said crossbar to said second goal post, said first base bar to said base rail, and said base rail to said second base bar.

15. A sports goal according to claim 14, wherein each of said goal posts, base bars, crossbar, and base rail is elongate, extends along a straight line path, and is rotatable about its longitudinal axis relative to said connectors.

16. A sports goal according to claim 15, further comprising a plurality of locking fasteners for securing ends of said goal posts, base bars, cross bar, and base rail to said connectors.

17. A sports goal according to claim 1, further comprising a net securable to said goal posts, crossbar, base bars and base rail of said frame behind said goal mouth.

18. A portable, self-erecting sports goal, comprising: a frame sufficiently flexible to be re-positioned between a goal configuration and a storage configuration without requiring disassembly of said frame; and a net secured to said frame and extending behind a goal mouth provided by said frame in said goal configuration; said frame including first and second elongate goal posts interconnected at upper ends thereof by right angle connectors to an elongate crossbar, a first elongate base bar interconnected by a right angle connector to a lower end of said first goal post, a second base bar interconnected by a right angle connector to a lower end of said second goal post, and an elongate base rail interconnected to ends of said first and second base bars opposite said first and second goal posts by right angle connectors, thereby providing an endless frame; in said goal configuration, said base bars and base rail support said sports goal on an underlying ground surface and said goal posts and crossbar cooperate to define a substantially rectangular goal mouth extending upright from the underlying ground surface; and in said storage configuration, said frame is twisted and folded upon itself into a substantially flat and compact position enabling said sports goal to be readily carried and stored.

19. A sports goal according to claim 18, wherein said frame consists of said goal posts, said crossbar, said base bars, said base rail, and said right angle connectors, and wherein said frame by itself retains itself in said goal configuration.

20. A sports goal according to claim 19, wherein, in said storage configuration, said first goal post overlaps with said second base bar and said second goal post overlaps with first base bar to form a V-shaped section, said crossbar and base rail overlap to form an arcuate section, and said V-shaped and arcuate sections provide said frame in a substantially flat pie-shape.

21. A sports goal according to claim 20, wherein, in said storage configuration, said frame is in a pre-tensioned condition enabling an amount of energy required to position said frame in said storage configuration to be used to permit said frame to resiliently self-erect into said goal configuration.

22. A sports goal according to claim 21, wherein each of said goal posts and base bars is of an identical first pre-determined length, wherein each of said crossbar and base rail is of an identical second pre-determined length, and wherein said second pre-determined length is greater than said first pre-determined length.

23. A sports goal according to claim 22, wherein said second pre-determined length is equal to about the first predetermined length multiplied by (π/2).

24. A sports goal according to claim 22, wherein each of said goal posts, base bars, crossbar, and base rail is elongate, extends along a straight line path, and is rotatable about its longitudinal axis relative to said connectors.

25. A sports goal according to claim 24, further comprising a plurality of locking fasteners for securing ends of said goal posts, base bars, cross bar, and base rail to said connectors.

26. A sports goal according to claim 25, further comprising a fastener to releasably secure said frame in said storage configuration.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sports goals for use on indoor or outdoor surfaces, and more particularly, to a portable goal that is positional between a goal configuration and a compact storage configuration.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,586 issued Amram et al. discloses a portable sports goal having a frame that has a horizontal portion providing a base that sits freely on an underlying playing surface and an upright portion that defines a goal mouth. The goal includes a goal net that is supported by the frame behind the goal mouth. The goal mouth is defined by a pair of upright elongate goal posts interconnected at upper ends by a crossbar. The base is provided by a pair of elongate base bars extending rearward from lower ends of the goal posts and a base rail interconnecting the ends of the base bars opposite the goal posts. Elbow connectors interconnect the above referenced elongate frame members forming a right angle at each connection.

The above referenced goal is collapsible enabling it to be readily carried and stored. As illustrated in FIG. 4 of the Amram et al. patent, the frame is at least partially disassembled in a knockdown condition thereby requiring reassembly when use of the goal is desired.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,433 issued to Armell discloses a so-called “pop-up” or “self-erecting” goal. Unlike the goal of Amram et al., the Armell goal can be positioned in a collapsed condition without disassembling the frame. As best illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5 of the Armell patent, the continuous spring steel wire framework of the goal can be twisted and folded upon itself to form two oval loops providing the goal in a substantially flat storage position. A restraining means, or strap, is used to retain the goal in the collapsed position. When the restraining strap is removed, the tension in the wire framework causes the goal to unfurl, or pop-up, into a goal configuration.

The above referenced goal of Armell requires an additional retaining means or strap to maintain the wire framework in a desired goal configuration. For example, see the strap illustrated as reference numeral 20 in FIG. 1 of Armell that extends across the goal mouth to maintain proper spacing between opposite sides of the wire framework and to keep the goal upright.

Other sports goals are disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,261,196 A1 of Caruso; U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,567 B2 issued to Wong et al.; and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,244,213 and D.384,382 issued to Armell. Also see International Publication Nos. WO 2006/044389 A1 and WO 2006/044388 A2 of Szaro et al..

Although the above referenced sports goal disclosed in the above referenced patents and publications may be satisfactory for their intended purposes, there remains a need for a portable sport goal that can be readily positioned in a goal configuration as well as a compact, easy to carry, collapsed storage configuration. Preferably, the goal should not require disassembly of the goal frame to position the goal in the storage configuration and should be easy to erect in a minimum of time with a minimum of effort. In addition, preferably the goal, as erected, should not require a strap or like support structure extending across or adjacent the goal mouth to maintain the framework of the goal in a desired goal configuration.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a portable, self-erecting sports goal having a frame sufficiently flexible to be re-positioned between a goal configuration and a storage configuration without requiring disassembly of the frame. The frame includes first and second goal posts interconnected at upper ends thereof by a crossbar, a first base bar extending rearward from a lower end of a first goal post, a second base bar extending rearward from a lower end of a second goal post, and a base rail interconnecting the ends of the first and second base bars opposite the goal posts. In the goal configuration, the base bars and base rail support the sports goal on an underlying ground surface, and the goal posts and crossbar cooperate to define a substantially rectangular goal mouth extending upright from the underlying ground surface. In the storage configuration, the frame is twisted and folded upon itself into a substantially flat and compact position enabling the sports goal to be readily carried and stored.

According to one contemplated embodiment of the present invention, the goal posts and base bars overlap to form a substantially V-shaped section and the crossbar and base rail overlap to form an arcuate section when the goal is in the storage configuration. This causes the goal to assume a substantially segmental, or flat pie-shaped, configuration. In this configuration, the frame is in a pre-tensioned condition enabling an amount of energy required to position the frame in the storage configuration to be used to permit the frame to resiliently self-erect itself into a goal configuration automatically upon release from the storage configuration.

According to some contemplated embodiments of the present invention, the crossbar extends at substantially right angles from the goal posts, the base rail extends at substantially right angles from the base bars, and the base bars extend at substantially right angles from the goal posts. Preferably, the goal posts, crossbar, base bars and base rail of the frame retain the frame in the goal configuration without the use of other retaining means, straps and supports extending across or near the goal mouth or netting. In addition, preferably the goal posts and base bars are of identical lengths, the crossbar and base rail are of identical lengths, and the length of the crossbar is greater than the length of the goal post.

According to some contemplated embodiments of the present invention, each of the goal posts, base bars, crossbar and base rail is elongate and extends in a straight line path. A separate corner connector is used to interconnect the various separate elongate parts of the frame. Preferably, the connectors interconnect the parts of the frame at substantially right angles. Each and/or selected ones of the elongate posts, bars and rails of the frame is rotatable about its longitudinal axis relative to the connectors. This enables ready manipulation of the frame into and out of the storage configuration.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should become apparent from the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a goal frame according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the goal frame illustrated in FIG. 1 manipulated into a storage configuration;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the goal frame of FIG. 1 supporting a goal net;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the goal illustrated in FIG. 3 manipulated into a storage configuration;

FIG. 5 is a view of a corner connection of the goal according to the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the corner connection illustrated in FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a sports goal 10 that is portable, lightweight, and can be positioned in a compact configuration for ready carrying, transportation and storage. For example, the goal can be used in connection with soccer games and/or training activities on indoor as well as outdoor playing surfaces. The goal can also be used in connection with other sports and training activities that generally require a goal mouth extending from a playing surface.

The sports goal 10 has a frame 12 that supports a goal net 14. As best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, the goal 10 provides a traditional substantially rectangular goal mouth configuration. For example, the frame 12 includes a pair of upright goal posts, 16 and 18, interconnected at their upper ends by a crossbar 20 thereby defining a substantially rectangular goal mouth “M”. The goal posts, 16 and 18, are supported in a generally upright position on an underlying playing surface by a portion of the frame 12 that defines a base 22. The base 22 includes a pair of base bars, 24 and 26, extending rearward from the lower ends of the goal posts, 16 and 18, and a base rail 28 interconnecting the ends of the base bars, 24 and 26, opposite the goal posts, 16 and 18.

In the illustrated embodiments, each of the goal posts 16 and 18, base bars 24 and 26, crossbar 20, and base rail 28 is provided as an elongate rod-like structure that follows a straight-line path between its opposite ends. The rods can be solid or hollow, can be made of metal, fiberglass, plastic, composite materials, or the like, and can have a rubber, plastic or like outer covering. The rods must be sufficiently sturdy to maintain a goal configuration (see FIGS. 1 and 3) while being resiliently flexible to enable the frame 12 to be positioned into a compact storage configuration, discussed in greater detail below. In addition, the frame 12 should be able to maintain itself in the goal configuration (see FIGS. 1 and 3) without the use of other supports, straps or the like to retain the goal in a desired configuration. For example, the strap (reference numeral 20) illustrated in FIG. 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,433 is not required by the goal according to the present invention.

As best illustrated in FIG. 1 of the present application, the goal posts 16 and 18, base bars 24 and 26, crossbar 20, and base rail 28 of the illustrated embodiment are interconnected by a series of separate corner connectors, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40, also referred to as elbow or right angle connectors. The connectors, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40, permit the various elongate components of the frame 12 to be interconnected at substantially right angles. In addition, the combination of the posts, bars, rail and connectors provide the frame 12 with a substantially continuous and endless structure.

As best illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6 of the present application, the ends of the rod-like posts, bars and rail of the frame 12 are retained in sockets 42 of the connectors. Preferably, the ends of the posts, bars and rail of the frame 12 include an enlarged diameter end piece 44 receivable in the socket 42. These end pieces 44 are locked within the sockets 42 by a fastener 46. The fastener 46 has a hollow central opening enabling the rod-like shafts of the posts, bars and rail of the frame 12 to be inserted therethrough so that the fastener 46 is carried on the rod-like shaft. In the illustrated embodiment, the fastener 46 has a threaded end 48 extending from a head section 50. The fastener 46 is free to rotate on the rod-like shaft of the posts, bars and rail of the frame 12 about a longitudinal axis “L” extending through the rod-like shaft. This permits the threaded end 48 of the fastener 46 to be screwed into cooperating threads (not shown) on an interior wall of the socket 42, thereby capturing end piece 44 within the socket 42. This assembly also permits the posts, bars and rail of the frame 12 to be rotatable relative to the connectors, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40, which enables the frame 12 to be readily twisted into the storage configuration discussed below.

By way of example, and not be way of limitation, the height “H” of the goal 10 can be about 30 inches and the width “W” can be about 49 inches. Of course, the goal 10 can be made to other dimensions, both smaller and larger. Preferably, the length “L1” of each goal posts, 16 and 18, is equal to the length “L2” of each of the base bars, 24 and 26. In addition, preferably the length “L3” of the crossbar 20 is equal to the length “L4” of the base rail 28, and the length “L3” of the crossbar 20 is greater then the length “L1” of each goal post, 16 and 18. This ensures that the goal 10 can be neatly positioned into a storage configuration as will be discussed in greater detail below.

According to one specific example of the present invention to which the invention is not limited, the lengths “L3” and “L4” of the crossbar 20 and base rail 28 are each equal to about the length “L1” of the goal posts, 16 and 18, multiplied by (π/2), or 1.57. For example, if each goal post and base bar has a length of about 30 inches, the cross bar and base rail would each have a length of about 30(π/2), or about 47 inches. These dimensions enable the goal 10 to assume a substantially pie-shaped storage configuration, or in some cases, the shape of a quadrant of a circle.

Various alternatives to the above referenced frame structure can be utilized. For example, the frame can be provided as one continuous piece of wire framework or the like without the use of connectors. Alternatively, the goal posts and crossbar can be formed of one continuous piece of framework or the like and a separate continuous piece of framework can be used to form the base 22 with only a pair of connectors used to join the ends of the base 22 to the ends of the goal posts. Further, the connectors can be formed in various shapes and capture the ends of the elongate frame components by various locking means which may permit or prevent rotation of the elongate components relative to the corner connectors.

The goal net 14 can be secured to the frame 12 via flexible sleeves 52 slipped over the elongate components of the frame 12 during assembly thereof. Preferably, the netting 14 is supported in a slack condition from the frame 12 to absorb the energy of a soccer ball or the like. The netting 14 is not required to be taut nor is it required to retain the frame 12 in a goal configuration.

Turning to the collapsible aspect of the goal 10 of the present invention, the frame 12 of the goal 10 is sufficiently flexible to permit the goal 10 to be re-positioned from a goal configuration, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, to a compact storage configuration, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. For example, a user can convert the goal 10 into the storage configuration by gripping the connector 30 at the lower end of the goal post 16 in the left hand and the connector 32 at the lower end of the goal post 18 in the right hand and by rotating the right hand and connector 32 clockwise for about 180°. This twisting motion of the frame 12 positions the goal post 16 in an overlapping position with the opposite base bar 26 and the goal post 18 in an overlapping position with the opposite base bar 24, thereby forming a V-shaped section 54. See FIGS. 2 and 4. This manipulation of the frame 12 also results in the crossbar 20 being positioned in an overlapping condition with the base rail 28.

In the illustrated embodiment, the angle “A” formed between the legs of the V-shaped section 54 is about 90° and, the crossbar 20 and base rail 28 each have a length sufficiently greater than that of the legs of the V-shaped section 54 so that the crossbar 20 and base rail 28 flex into and from an arcuate section 56. Accordingly, the posts, bars, and rail of the frame 12 essentially are converted into a compact, flat, pie-shaped form. Should the length of the cross bar be about (π/2) times the length of the goal post, the storage configuration is essentially equivalent to the shape of a quadrant of a circle. As shown in FIG. 4, the netting 14 remains on the frame 12 in the storage configuration. In this configuration, the goal 10 can be readily carried in one hand with multiple like goals and can be stored in a compact flat condition.

The frame 12 is retained in the flat pie-shaped storage configuration by use of one or more fasteners 58. As an example, the illustrated fasteners 58 are provided as strips of hook-and-loop fasteners. Alternatively, the fasteners 58 can be provided as clips, clasps, straps with buttons, buckles, or snaps, or the like.

In positioning the goal 10 into the storage configuration, the user exerts an amount of energy to twist the frame 12 into the flat pie-shape. The frame 12, particularly the crossbar 20 and base rail 28, are resiliently elastic in that the above referenced energy is essentially stored therein and is used to enable the goal 12 to self-erect itself into the goal configuration upon release of the frame 12 from the storage configuration. For instance, the crossbar 20 and base rail 28 are resiliently flexible and exert a force to return from the arcuate condition to a straight-line condition. Accordingly, the user can merely disconnect the fasteners 58 and permit the goal to unfurl, or “pop-up” into the goal configuration. No assembly is required.

While a preferred sports goal has been described in detail, various modifications, alterations, and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the anchor, assembly, and method according to the present invention as defined in the appended claims.