Title:
Flag football uniform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flag football uniform comprising a shoulder supported portion selected from the group consisting of: (a) at least one strap, (b) a vest, and (c) a jersey; a waist portion, said shoulder supported portion being either secured to or formed substantially integrally with said waist portion; a plurality of flags securement locations defined on said waist portion; and a plurality of flags for selective attachment to said flag receipts.



Inventors:
Baun II, Jack R. (Medina, OH, US)
Smith, Detlev F. (Fairlawn, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/231232
Publication Date:
02/12/2009
Filing Date:
08/29/2008
Assignee:
Official Flag Football Jersey Co. (Medina, OH, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. (OTTAWA, KS, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flag football uniform having a top portion and a bottom edge portion for fitting over the shoulders of a player and extending proximate the waist of said player comprising: a shoulder supported portion proximate said top portion; a waist portion connected to said shoulder portion; a belt detachably mounted to said uniform proximate said waist portion; and a plurality of flags fixedly secured to said belt.

2. A flag football uniform as recited in claim 1, wherein said belt comprises a pair of ends, said ends arranged in spaced non-engaging portion with each other.

3. A flag football uniform as recited in claim 1, wherein said belt is devoid of a buckle.

4. A flag football uniform of claim 1, wherein said waist portion is elasticized and defines said bottom edge portion of said uniform, said waist portion being adapted for substantial alignment with said waist of said player.

5. A flag football uniform as recited in claim 1, wherein said waist portion comprises a plurality of spaced belt receipt members; said belt having uniform receipt members in spaced location therealong; said belt receipt members being detachably engaged to said uniform receipt members.

6. A flag football uniform as recited in claim 5, wherein said belt receipt members and said uniform receipt members comprise Velcro.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/637,507 filed Dec. 11, 2006.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally resides in the art of sports equipment, and, more particularly, relates to a flag football uniform.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Flag football is a popular sport that is played by substantially the same rules as is American-style football, except for the fact that, in flag football, there is no tackling. Instead, all players wear one or more “flags” that, when removed from a ball carrier, indicate that the ball carrier is down (i.e., tackled), thereby signifying the end of that play. The flags are typically narrow strips of nylon or other fabric that are removably secured to belts worn by the players. These strips of fabric move as the players run and, therefore, can be difficult to grab and remove from the belt. Thus, flag football, while not being as aggressive as tackle football, provides challenges not faced in games of “touch” football, wherein a ball carrier is tackled, and a play is over, simply by touching the ball carrier.

As mentioned, the flag football prior art is replete with what will be termed herein “flag belts,” wherein one or more flags are releaseably secured to a belt to be worn by each of the players. Flag belts are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,304,403; 4,651,989; 5,451,046; 5,456,462; 5,802,608; 5,938,549; and 6,241,631.

While these flag belts are popular, they have a number of shortcomings that can be improved upon. Flag belts are worn at the waist, and the flags are typically secured directly to the belt. As a result, a player's shirt can, if untucked, hide the flag and make it more difficult to remove the flag from the belt. A player can also tuck the belt into his or her waistline to make the flag difficult to remove (though this would, to some extent, be cheating). Whether a shirt falls over the flags or the flags are tucked into a waistline, readjustment for proper positioning takes time away from the game. Some flag belts use buckles, and the rigid buckle structure can hurt a player. Buckles are also somewhat difficult and slow to adjust, and the excess length of belt extending through the buckle usually must be wrapped around the taut length of belt about the waist.

Belts also provide little information about the teams to which the players belong. Beyond making the flags a different color for different teams, there is little that can be done with simple flag belts to distinguish teams. This can make it more difficult for the players to identify the individuals belonging to their team. Thus, there is a need in the art for a flag football uniform providing increased functionality over the flag belts of the prior art and providing better team identification for the opposed teams in a game.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides a flag football uniform. The uniform includes a shoulder supported portion selected from the group consisting of: (a) at least one strap, (b) a vest, and (c) a shirt. A waist portion is either secured to or formed substantially integrally with the shoulder supported portion. A plurality of flag receipts are provided on the waist portion, and a plurality of flags are provided for selective attachment to the flag receipts.

The uniform is preferably provided in multiple sizes to locate the waist portion directly at the waist of the player wearing the uniform. This is different from most clothing, which extends to an appreciable length below the waist line. Because sizing the uniforms in this manner, it is more difficult for a player to tuck flags under his or her belt or the waist of their pants, thus making it more difficult to cheat in this manner. Additionally, by supporting the waist portion with a strap or by providing it as part of a vest or shirt, it is less likely that a shirt will be placed over the uniform, covering up the flags, as experienced with the prior art flag belt embodiments. The uniforms herein also lend themselves to having team-identifying indicia more so than the flag belts of the prior art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a general perspective view of a first embodiment of a flag football uniform in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 is a general perspective view of a second embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 3 is a general perspective view of a third embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a close up of the interaction of a flag and flag receipt, particularly through hook-and-loop type fasteners;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a flag football uniform with a flag belt in accordance with this invention taken from the backside of the uniform;

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of the uniform shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a view of a buckleless flag belt in combination with the uniform shown in FIGS. 5 and 6; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a flag football uniform with a flag belt in accordance with this invention taken from the backside of the uniform.

PREFERRED EMBODIMENT FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Five particular embodiments for a flag football uniform in accordance with this invention are shown herein. The specific embodiments are to provide guidance for practicing the present invention, and the invention is not necessarily limited to or by any particular embodiment disclosed. The first embodiment is shown in FIG. 1 and designated by the numeral 10. The second embodiment is shown in FIG. 2 and designed by the numeral 110. The third embodiment is shown in FIG. 3 and designated by the numeral 210. Like parts between the different embodiments receive like numerals, although increased by 100 for the second embodiment, and increased by 200 for the third embodiment. A fourth embodiment is shown in FIGS. 5, 6, and 7. A fifth embodiment is shown in FIG. 8. The first embodiment, uniform 10, is first disclosed.

Referring now to FIG. 1, uniform 10 is a strap-styled uniform wherein a shoulder supported portion thereof is designated by the numeral 12 and takes the form of two straps 14. While it should be appreciated that shoulder support portion 12 can be provided in the form of one strap, the support provided is typically better with two straps and a rear cross support strap 15 keeping them associated. The shoulder supported portion 12 defined by straps 14 extends in a suspender-like fashion from waist portion 16. Thus, straps 14 can be secured over an individual's shoulders to place waist portion 16 about the individual's waistline or in close proximity thereto. Straps 14 may be adjustable, as generally designated at buckle 18, thus permitting for easy adjustment of the distance to which waist portion 16 extends from the shoulder-supported portion of straps 14. This adjustment will permit an individual to place waist portion 16 directly at their waist, as is preferred in accordance with the rules of flag football. Although it is possible to drop uniform 10 over one's head to place straps 14 over the shoulders and locate waist portion 16 at the waistline, waist portion 16 can optionally have selectable securement means 20 for permitting an individual to selectively release the band of fabric defining waist portion 16 from being wrapped around their waist. The selectable securement means could be selected from hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releaseable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners, because they are relatively soft, are preferred. Also, by providing a large area of hook-and-loop fabric material at the area of connection for waist portion 16, waist portion 16 can be comfortably fit to various waist sizes. Waist portion 16 is also preferably elastic in order to squeeze slightly against a player's waist line when worn.

A plurality of flag receipts are shown and designated by the numerals 22a, 22b and 22c. A plurality of flags 24a, 24b, 24c are provided for selectively securement to the flag receipts 22a, 22b, 22c. It should be appreciated that each flag is interchangeable with each flag receipt, though, in order to properly identify elements of uniform 10 with separate numerals, letter designations have been provided. It will be appreciated that any number of flags and flag receipts can be employed, and the flag receipts can be placed virtually anywhere along the waist portion 16. However, in accordance with particularly preferred embodiments, flag 24a would attach to flag receipt 22a positioned such that flag 24a would be located proximate a right hip bone when uniform 10 is worn. Similarly, flag receipt 22b is positioned on waist portion 16 such that, when uniform 10 is worn, flag 24b secured to flag receipt 22b will be located proximate a left hip bone of the individual wearing the uniform 10. Finally, flag receipt 22c is preferably located proximate the individual's back bone or tail bone when uniform 10 is worn. Although these locations are preferred, it should be appreciated that, in accordance with other embodiments, the flags may be placed proximate the locations just disclosed, preferably within a 5 inch radius of those locations, more preferably within a 3 inch radius of those locations, and more preferably within 1.5 inch radius of those locations. This holds true for additional embodiments disclosed herein. The flags 24a-c and the flag receipts 22a-c include complimentary fastener means that interact to releasably hold flags 24a-c at their respective flag receipts 22a-c. The fastener means could be selected from hook-and loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releaseable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners are preferred because they are relatively soft and provide an acceptable gripping force against release. In the particular embodiment shown, flags 24a-c have loops 26 and receipts 22a-c have hooks 28 (FIG. 4).

With reference to FIG. 2, it can be seen that uniform 110 is a vest-style uniform wherein a shoulder supported portion thereof is designated by the numeral 112 and is provided by the upper portion of a vest 114. In this embodiment, shoulder supported portion 112 is preferably formed integrally with waist portion 116, it being appreciated that a typical vest provides both shoulder-supported portions and portions located proximate the wearer's waist (i.e., a waist portion). Although shoulder supported portion 112 and waist portion 116 are identified and should be considered as separate elements, it should be appreciated that they can be provided in an integral fabric member, such as here, wherein they are provided in a single vest 114. It should be appreciated that waist portion 116 is integral with vest 114, and is defined by that area of vest 114 adjacent bottom edge 117 of vest 114.

Vest 114 is to be secured over an individual's shoulders to place waist portion 116 about the individual's waistline or in close proximity thereto. Although vest 114 may be made adjustable in length, it is preferred to provide vests 114 in various acceptable sizes, such as the small (5), medium (M), large (L) and extra large (XL) sizes generally employed for other articles of clothing. Other functionally similar size designations, such as numerical size designations, could be employed. These sizes are well established for dimensioning articles of clothing so as to fit properly on various body types. General size designations are followed, but are slightly altered such that the waist portion 116 is positioned right at the waist line. This is distinguishable from general clothing arts, wherein vests often extend well below the waist line. Thus, the general cut of the flag football uniform vests in accordance with this invention are distinguishable from typical vests worn as part of a clothing ensemble; they are intended to have bottom edges substantially aligned with the waist line of those wearing them. A player will choose a vest sized to satisfy this requirement as best as possible.

Although it is possible to drop uniform 110 over one's head to place vest 114 over the shoulders and locate waist portion 116 at the waistline, vest 114 can optionally have selectable securement means 120 for permitting an individual to selectively release the fabric defining vest 114 from being wrapped around their torso. The selectable securement means could be selected from hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releaseable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners are preferred because they are relatively soft. Also, by providing a large area of hook-and-loop fabric material at the areas of connection for vest 114, vest 114 can be comfortably fit to various torso sizes.

A plurality of flag receipts are shown and designated by the numerals 122a, 122b and 122c. A plurality of flags 124a, 124b, 124c are provided for selectively 15 securement to said flag receipts 122a, 122b, 122c. It should be appreciated that each flag is interchangeable with each flag receipt, though, in order to properly identify elements of uniform 110 with separate numerals, letter designations have been provided. It will be appreciated that any number of flags and flag receipts can be employed, and the flag receipts can be placed virtually anywhere along the waist portion 116. However, in accordance with particularly preferred embodiments, flag 124a would attach to flag receipt 122a positioned such that flag 124a would be located proximate a right hip bone when uniform 110 is worn. Similarly, flag receipt 122b is positioned on waist portion 116 such that, when uniform 110 is worn, flag 124b secured to flag receipt 122b will be located proximate a left hip bone of the individual wearing the uniform 110. Finally, flag receipt 122c is preferably located proximate the individual's back bone or tail bone when uniform 110 is worn. The flags 124a-c and the flag receipts 122a-c include complimentary fastener means that interact to releasably hold flags 124a-c at their respective flag receipts 122a-c. The fastener means could be selected from hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releaseable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners, because they are relatively soft and provide an acceptable gripping force against release, are preferred. In the particular embodiment shown, flags 124a-c have loops 126 and receipts 122a-c have hooks 128.

The strap and vest embodiments are capable of being economically manufactured and would therefore be perfect candidates for use in any area where cutting costs would be desirable. It is believe these embodiments would be very desirable in school settings where a multitude of students would be using and sharing a limited number of uniforms possibly for years and years. They also can be manufactured with the aforementioned selectable securement means to make them readily adaptable to players of various sizes.

With reference to FIG. 3, it can be seen that uniform 210 is a shirt-style uniform wherein a shoulder supported portion thereof is designated by the numeral 212 and is provided by the upper portion of a shirt 214. In this embodiment, shoulder supported portion 212 is preferably formed integrally with waist portion 216, it being appreciated that a typical shirt provides both shoulder-supported portions and portions located proximate the wearer's waist (i.e., a waist portion). Although shoulder supported portion 212 and waist portion 216 are identified and should be considered as separate elements, it should be appreciated that they can be provided in an integral fabric member, such as here, wherein they are provided in a single shirt 214. It should be appreciated that waist portion 216 is integral with shirt 214 and is defined by that area of shirt 214 adjacent bottom edge 217 of shirt 214.

Shirt 214 is to be secured over an individual's shoulders to place waist portion 216 about the individual's waistline or in close proximity thereto. Shirt 214 is preferably provided in various acceptable sizes, such as the small (S), medium (M), large (L) and extra large (XL) sizes generally employed for other articles of clothing. Other functionally similar size designations, such as numerical size designations, could be employed. These sizes are well established for dimensioning articles of clothing so as to fit properly on various body types. General size designations are followed, but are slightly altered such that the waist portion 216 is positioned right at the waist line. This is distinguishable from general clothing arts, wherein vests often extend well below the waist line. Thus, the general cut of the flag football uniform shirts in accordance with this invention are distinguishable from typical shirts worn as part of a clothing ensemble; they are intended to have bottom edges substantially aligned with the waist line of those wearing them. A player will choose a shirt sized to satisfy this requirement as best as possible. Waist portion 216 is also preferably elastic in order to squeeze slightly against a player's waist line when worn. This not only provides a nice, sleek appearance to the uniform, but, functionally, holds the waist portion against the player and thus resists movement when a flag is grabbed and removed from the waist portion, i.e., the waist portion does not pull away from the player's 10 waist when a flag is pulled, instead, the flag is removed while the waist portion stays near or against the player's waist. In accordance with one embodiment, waist portion 216 is provided with a sleeve 221 to receive an elastic band 223 to hold waist portion 216 snugly against a player's waist line. The elastic band 223 could alternatively be provided as a permanently affixed member, or the material forming shirt 214 could be provided as elastic at the waist area.

A plurality of flag receipts are shown and designated by the numerals 222a, 222b and 222c. A plurality of flags 224a, 224b, 224c are provided for selectively securement to said flag receipts 222a, 222b, 222c. It should be appreciated that each flag is interchangeable with each flag receipt, though, in order to properly identify elements of uniform 210 with separate numerals, letter designations have been provided. It will be appreciated that any number of flags and flag receipts can be employed, and the flag receipts can be placed virtually anywhere along the waist portion 216. However, in accordance with particularly preferred embodiments, flag 224a would attach to flag receipt 222a positioned such that flag 224a would be 25 located proximate a right hip bone when uniform 210 is worn. Similarly, flag receipt 222b is positioned on waist portion 216 such that, when uniform 210 is worn, flag 224b secured to flag receipt 222b will be located proximate a left hip bone of the individual wearing the uniform 210. Finally, flag receipt 222c is preferably located proximate the individual's back bone or tail bone when uniform 210 is worn. The flags 224a-c and the flag receipts 222a-c include complimentary fastener means that interact to releasably hold flags 224a-c at their respective flag receipts 222a-c. The fastener means could be selected from hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releaseable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners, because they are relatively soft and provide an acceptable gripping force against release, are preferred. In the particular embodiment shown, flags 224a-c have loops 226 and receipts 222a-c have hooks 228.

In optional embodiments, padding can be used, which would better protect players from injury and would permit players to be more aggressive in a game. Padding is shown at padding 130 in FIG. 2, and at padding 230 in FIG. 3. These paddings 130, 230 fit in respective padding sleeves 132, 232 at the shoulder supported portions 112,212 of their respective embodiments.

With reference to FIG. 4, it can be seen that each embodiment herein can benefit from the inclusion of reinforcement fabric 33 at the location of the flag receipts (flag receipt 22b being shown). The numerals from FIG. 1 are employed (i.e., between 0 and 100), but it should be appreciated that this concept applies to all embodiments. The reinforcement fabric will help provide structural integrity at the locations that receive a relatively large amount of stress from the flags constantly being forcefully removed from the flag receipts.

With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, another embodiment is set forth wherein it can be seen that the uniform 310 includes a plurality of belt receipts 322a, 322b, and 322c spaced from each other about the waist portion 316 of uniform 310. A plurality of uniform receipt members 328 are each spaced from each other and positioned along the interior of the belt. A plurality of flags 324a and 324b are fixedly mounted to the flag belt 340 such as via sewing attachment or the like. It should be appreciated that any number of flags and belt receipts can be employed, and the belt receipts can be placed virtually anywhere along the waist portion 316. However, in accordance with particularly preferred embodiments, two flags 324a and 324b are mounted on opposite ends of flag belt 340. Further, flag belt receipt 322a is positioned such that flag 324a would be located proximate a right hip bone when uniform 310 is worn. Similarly, flag belt receipt 322b is positioned such that flag 324b would be located proximate a left hip bone when uniform 310 is worn. Finally, flag belt receipt 322c is preferably located proximate the individual's back bone or tail bone when uniform 310 is worn.

The uniform receipts and the flag belt receipts 322a, 322b, 322c have complementary fastening means that interact to releasably hold flag belt 340 at respective flag belt receipts 322a, 322b, 322c. The fastener means could be selected from hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, snaps, buttons, magnets, releasable adhesives, and the like. Hook-and-loop fasteners, because they are relatively soft and provide an acceptable gripping force against release are preferred.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, flag belt 340 is comprised of woven cotton fabric, however a person having ordinary skill in the art can fabricate the belt using any natural or synthetic material he or she sees fit. The lengths of flag belt 340 spanning between flag belt receipts 322a-322c and 322b-322c is sized such that the flag belt 340 remains fastened to the uniform belt receipts when waist portion 316 of uniform 310 is stretched. However, flag belt 340 will release from flag belt receipts 322a, 322b, 322c if sufficient pulling force is applied to one of the plurality of flags 324a, 324b or the flag belt 340.

The flag belt 340 is shown in FIG. 7 and is devoid of buckles or other hard fastening means. The belt includes spaced uniform receipts 328 adapted for detachable engagement with the belt receipts 322a-c. The flags 324a and b are fixedly fastened to the belt. The embodiment shown in FIG. 8 is similar to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, but also includes an additional flag 324c fixedly fastened to flag belt 340 between flags 324a and 324b. In accordance with this embodiment, flag belt receipt 322c is positioned such that flag 324c would be located proximate an individual's back bone or tail bone when uniform 310 is worn.

It is apparent that the embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-8 provides a “buckle-less” belt. That is, the front ends of the belt are not attached to each other by the conventional use of metallic or plastic buckles or the like. Instead, the respective front ends of the belt are each connected to the belt receipts 322a and 322c. These front ends are spaced apart and do not engage with each other. In this embodiment, during usage in flag football event, the belt itself is ripped from the shirt to signify a tackle. This is distinct from other embodiments which are adapted to provide for removable attachment of the flags to the uniform. Here, the flags themselves are fixedly attached to the belt.

By providing flag football uniforms that locate flags at flag receipts positioned at the waistline, and ultimately supporting those flag receipts with a shoulder supported portion of the uniform, the players will find it difficult to purposefully position their flags where they will be difficult to grab and remove. For instance, it will be difficult for a player to tuck the flags into a the waistline of his or her pants. Additionally, the various embodiments shown here can be worn either over a shirt or can replace a shirt, such that it will be difficult for a player's shirt to be made to hang over the flags. In preferred embodiments, and as a result of providing multiple sizes for the uniforms herein, buckles need not be employed for size adjustment, thus increasing comfort and decreasing a chance for minor injuries. This is particularly true with the vest and shirt embodiments. The uniform embodiments herein are also readily capable of being designed with team-identifying indicia on them, as represented in FIG. 3 by the number “07” shown thereon as a player's number. The straps, vests and shirts can be made in various team colors, as are jerseys in professional sports. The flags can preferably receive numbers as well, to match the number on the strap, vest or shirt to which they belong. This will permit better identification of just which player lost a flag during a given play and where that player lost it.

It should also be appreciated that the term “shirt” herein is used broadly and would cover jerseys. Indeed a jersey type nylon material is preferred for the shirt embodiment of FIG. 3. Jerseys in accordance with this invention will be shaped more to fit the general human body, and not to fit over large professional style football pads, though they will, in preferred embodiments have padding sleeves for receiving moderate padding, which would preferably be cushioning foam padding.

Each one of the embodiments disclosed might need to be washed. To help protect the preferred hook and loop fastener areas at the waist portion, wash patches, such as those identified in FIG. 3 at numeral 234 can be provided to fit over the flag receipts during washing.

In light of the foregoing, it should thus be evident that the process of the present invention, providing flag football uniforms, substantially improves the art. In accordance with the patent statutes, only the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail. The present invention is not to be limited thereto or thereby. Rather, the scope of the invention shall include all modifications and variations that fall within the scope of the attached claims.