Archive for the ‘Sports and Outdoors’ Category

Is Your Game Room Ready for Some Football?

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Baseball may be the “great American pastime,” but football reigns supreme in the world of sports. Worth more than $1 billion on the average, a National Football League team proves to be more profitable than a Major League Baseball team (over $700 million), a team in the National Basketball Association (over $500 million) or in the National Hockey League (just shy of $300 million). This profitability, in large part, is due to increased profits, and these profits are directly attributed to having more wins than losses, which then leads to increased sponsorship. Of the 32 NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys is the most valuable.

“Show me the money!”

A hybrid of soccer and rugby, this lucrative sports juggernaut began building its reputation in 1892. On November 12th of that year, William (Pudge) Heffelfinger, a football player for the Allegheny Athletic Association, was paid $500 to play in a game versus the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. This was the first documented instance of a football player being paid for his services, and pro football was born. Up until that point, amateur players were “compensated” with trophies and watches. Oftentimes players’ expenses were paid at twice their value. Today the average salary for a football player exceeds $1 million for most positions.

But football is more than just about making money and being profitable. Vince Lombardi once said that “football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” Okay, so that may be why a person chooses to play football. What, then, accounts for our national obsession with the game? A Sports Business Journal writer revealed that residents of New York City opted to watch a New York Jets game one evening as opposed to a Yankee playoff game. What gives?

“It’s the hard-knock life!”

The game of football has certainly taken its fair share of lumps lately. Concerns regarding head injuries and players’ physical well-being in general, as well as reports of misconduct by players and coaching staff alike, may give football fans pause, but they have certainly not tarnished the popularity of the sport. Football is indeed physical, but it is also a game that compels people to work as a team and endeavor to attain a mutual goal. Football is also a mental game that requires classroom work and advanced preparation. And in the end, football brings us together with family and friends to celebrate a pastime that, while not wholly American, has certainly been adopted as one of America’s own.

Now is the time to prepare for the coming NFL season, by making sure that your game room reflects your football obsession and promotes your favorite team. And whether your favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys or the Jacksonville Jaguars, we have game tables and furniture to display your team spirit.


First team nitro install 99pct completed

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I started at 6am this morning. Basically it is all done except I need to install the top cap, height marker  and I want the padding to “relax” before Icomplete fitting it. I have a completed picture except tools are still scattered about. I left a note for my son to clean up because i had to get to work. Tonight I will post fresh pics of what the whole install looks like.

It all went very smoothly exactly according to the instructions except in retrospect I learned the following:

1) If you are going to pour cenet, move all of your components VERY far away from the pour. it splashes a lot and got on my components. I washed them off but there are still residual traces.

2) I was able to mount the glass backboard “myself:” as long as my wife pushed and stabilized from underneath.

3) When mounting the glass on the frame, keep the bolts lose. The holes in the glass are protected by silicone gaskets that move around and potentially occlude the hole. It is easier to adjust if the glass is slightly lose ( although secure ! ) and tighten completely AFTER the goal is installed.

4) to put the goal up, start with ONE screw in the top slot. secure with washer, lock washer and nut. Go get the next set and then secure the other top slot ( instructions say to install both bolts in goal before lifting to mount. my way is better).

5) I almost put the top cap on the post before i lifted it into place but i was sure there must be a reason that the instructions called for it last when it was obviously going to be so much more difficult. I figured I was going to need to get my hand in there for a step that was not obvious to me. Actually – NO ! Put the top cap on BEFORE you lift the post. It would have been way easier.

First team powerhouse nitro install

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I can see the finish line. The concrete was poured today. Best money we ever spent. No mixing, no questiobnable concrete quality and very easy. Driver was the owner of teh company and trowled it when done. We drew a chalk line from the foundation and measured to the bolts to make sure the backboard would be parallel to the court. Check out the pictures

First team Powerhouse Nitro Install continued

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

The system was delivered yesterday. Typical for R and L trucking, the boxes arrived busted and open. I looked over everything as carefully as I could and then signed the bill of lading with a detailed exception about the box condition, possible missing parts and possible damage.

The driver was a really nice guy and I gave him our old portable hoop. It worked out great for him and for us. After he left I started to get to work on emptying the boxes and sorting through the components. Wouldn’t you know that the one thing I was really keen on – the template for the bolts in the base – was missing. I called First Team and by my description they were pretty sure it fell out in transit. They told me I could make one out of plywood or they could send one overnight. My pour is scheduled for 10 am the next day so overnight was not going to work. Quick call to Rand L and they said they would look and IF they find it they will bring it over. Not good enough – I need to know one way or the other. I call the specific dispatcher and get him to agree to call me after he talks to the driver. Net result is they do not have the template and I am off to the depot to get some plywood cut.  I need a 12″ x 12″ square and inside I will drill 9″ x 9″ on center.  I do this by making diagonal marks to identify the center and then drop down1.5″ from each end where it intersects the line. I then drill a 5/8″ hole with a speed bore.

Above is a picture of the assembled template with the bolts installed ( facing in ) . I then assembled the base so I could test my template before the pour and the end of any opportunity to make changes. The great news i that it fits perfectly.

Net up the pour and a day of rest while it hardens

Basket Ball System Install Continued

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Another day, another blister….I got out the big rock this morning. I thought about wrapping it in chains which i would then pass over the round side of a bucket and attach to the car. In the end I just lifted it out instead. less interesting but much easier.

The real challenge has been not getting too wide as I go deeper. It is now about 30″ wide and keeps getting a bit wider every time I go in. The net result is that a project that started as 1/3 yard of concrete is probably going to be a yard+. not the end of the world, but something I would still like to control if I can. My thought now is to purchase a sonic tube or a form and fill in around it with dirt. I will write on that after I review options.

I am now digging with the little shovel and pot you see in the post. There is really no other way to get the dirt out at this juncture except to loosen and then shovel into the pot. Very slow going ( maybe a pro install is better…. )

The bball delivery is scheduled for Wednesday. the pour is scheduled for Thursday am.

Basketball system install

Monday, July 26th, 2010

It was 95 degrees here over the weekend and probably the same percentage of humidity. When I went to the Home depot to get a new digging tool their only advice was to find something else to do. It was really the wrong weekend for sure but the delivery is expected early this week and I wanted to have the hole ready.

The hole is supposed to be 2’ x 2’ by 3’ deep or below the frost line. Our frost line has been reported as 1 meter up to 40” . I found this map on line and this one as well which both seem to suggest that 36” will be safe. Just to be sure, I called our building department and they told me 42”. I am now really depressed and have a ton more digging to do.

I started digging Saturday morning using a post hole digging tool and a shovel. I ran into a bunch of rocks and went to the depot to get a 6’ pry bar. After that it was slow going, particularly as the hole got deeper without getting much wider. At this point I can only make progress by being in the hole and digging with a small shovel and a crow bar. The challenge now is to keep getting deeper without getting wider. The hole is already more than 2’ x 2’ and the wider I get the more concrete I am going to use. I am also working on belling out the bottom.

So now I need to lift the rock out of the bottom ( came from the side), go about 6” deeper and bell out the bottom. I then want to build a frame for the top so that I end up with a square pour. Lastly I am going to pull chalk lines from the house foundation so that the system will be exactly perpendicular to the house.

Basketball system selected!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

So it took me a long time but I finally bit the bullet on my basketball system. In the end I went with a first team Powerhouse Challenger Nitro. I wanted 60″ and I wanted glass for better rebound and in the end i just was not willing to compromise on those characteristics . I did compromise a bit on the setback and the frame mount style, but I needed to economize somewhere. The setback should not really effect play. The frame mount style is only an issue with an acrylic backboard. With the style i chose, the bounce would have been reduced with acrylic. I did select glass, so I decided that was not critical.

I also went with padding and a retention net because there will be a hill behind my mount. now I have to get out my shovel and get to work! i am going to pre dig the hole and get my cement lined up and ready in anticipation of an arrival early next week. After that I will post some pictures of the completed project.

I want to buy an inground basketball system

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

So this is a bit odd for me. I sell systems and yet I can not decide what system to get for my son. He has really improved his playing over the last year and I would like to support his game AND give him the best tools for success. Offset that with the fact that we think we will move in the next few years , budget constraints and concerns about potential vandalism to a glass board, and suddenly I am paralyzed and incapable of making a choice! Sound at all familiar?

I think this says so much abot the state of this industry. Why are there so many choices that seem to represent features that are very difficult for the consumer to assess? We want a robust, simple system that is going to perform great and not cost a fortune. Check back soon and I will start to narrow down my choices.

Sky Ski Roll

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

mls_0001This is one of my favorite sports related pictures ( ok the kid is my daughter so I am biased ). We spend a ton of time on the water as a family. When my daughter was about 12 she started riding an air chair and then migrated to the Sky Ski ( both are sit down hydrofoils ). We arranged to get some professional instruction from Scott Honkola and he taught my daughter to “bunny hop”. Her wanted her to do those hops 100 times up and down the lake, which she did. Eventually she developed a really crazy jump that turned into a huge wake jump. She started trying to flip and would just crash all the time. I kept on coaching her to “jump first” but this was a dad to a daughter and would just dissolve into tears. In any case, this picture is lifted from a video made in the summer of 2009. She was 19 at the time. Way cool, I think

Next up pictures of my 12 year old son learning to spin on his board. he has invert aspirations as well so I imagine the tears are about to start all over again!

Do we sell wakeboards and hydrofoils? Nope, but we do focus on recreation. If there is enough interest, I would LOVE to add a water sports section or maybe start a separate site. it is a real passion of mine.

How to Buy an Inground Adjustable Basketball System

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Why buy an inground system? You want to save the space that the base takes up on a portable system, you want a strong and secure installation for maximum playability and you want a clean look that is going to enhance the appearance of your home. Once you have decided that an in ground system is the right choice for you, how do select from the literally hundreds of options? Just follow this guide:

The first step is to understand that there will be an inevitable balancing of budget and features. If price is not an option, then selecting will become a relatively simple process. If like most of us there are budget constraints, you will need to weigh what features are important to you against their cost. Here is a list of features and their differentiation:

Backboards : You need to select a backboard size and a backboard material. The four basic materials are glass, acrylic , fiberglass, aluminum and steel . The last three are typically institutional alternatives and will not be covered here. The main residential options are glass and acrylic. For optimal rebound, glass is the top choice. There will be variations in the thickness of the glass. Typical options are 3/8” and ½”. The thicker the glass, the better the rebound action and the less fragile the backboard is. Acrylic is 10 times stronger and less expensive than glass. While the rebound effect is not as good on an acrylic system, there are a lot of things that manufacturers can do to make the action very close to glass. For best action on an acrylic system you will want a full steel frame around the perimeter of the backboard and an H frame securing the backboard to the system. Other configurations are acceptable ( and less expensive ) , but will not have as active a rebound. Once again, thicker will produce better action. Acrylic systems come in 1/8” ¼” 3/8” and ½” thickness. Once again, a price vrs performance decision will have to be made.

The official backboard size is 42” x 72”. Residential systems vary greatly in the dimensions of the backboards and again, this has a big influence on cost. You can go for the full size 42 x 72 or drop down to 42 x 60 which still feels huge because of the 42” dimension. An example of this would be the First Team Powerhouse nitro. If that size is too big or busts the budget, there are options in 60 x 36 , 54 x 36, 48 x 36 and even 54 x 34 ( silverback ). Keep in mind that if you do not have a full court you won’t need a full backboard,. So this can be a great area to make a budget call.

The pole : Do I really need to worry about the pole? Doesn’t it just hold up the backboard? Well yes and no. These systems get heavy and you want a sturdy assembly that is not going to move easily when you play. Plan on dunking? Take that into account as well. Getting a 42” x 70” glass system? You will need a substantial pole. Selecting a 48 x 36 acrylic? You will not need as substantial a setup. There are three aspects to determining the quality of the pole: One piece is better than two piece, the larger the exterior dimensions the better and the thickness of the steel itself. Steel thickness is expressed in gauge and/or thickness. Basketball systems are produced in 16 ( For round poles and considered thin) , 14, 11 and 7 gauge. The lower the number, the thicker the steel. 7 gauge is roughly equivalent to 3/16”. Typical construction of poles are 4×4 5×5 6×6 and 6×8 .

Adjustment system : There are three basic types of height adjustment: Hydraulic where you squeeze a handle to release the system, move it to the desired height and then release where it will now lock. A crank system where you rotate the handle to move the backboard to the desired position ( some crank systems use a spring assist to compensate for the weight of the backboard ) and a manual system that is released and set using a broom handle. The all work at getting the goal to the desired height with the only obvious compromise being the potential inconvenience with a manual system. This can be another great area to save on cost if your system will not be adjusted often.

Safety setback : The setback is the distance from the pole to the goal. This will vary as the height of the pole is changed but the standard measurement is made when the system is in the regulation 10 foot position. Regulation overhang in high school up to and including NBA is 48”. Residential systems are available with overhangs of 18”-66”. The more aggressive the players, the more you will want to take into consideration the size of the overhang. Bear in mind that with greater overhang comes greater stress on the pole, so your cost will go up as the overhang increases not just because of the additional overhang itself, but also because of strengthening in the associated components. As aggressive play increases, you should not only consider the overhang, but also pole pads and backboard pads.

Metal finish : All residential systems have a powder coating finish to protect them from the elements. Domestically produced systems such as Gared, First Team and Barbarian have a pre treatment that helps preserve the powder coating and thereby reduce the incidence of rust. The barbarian systems go a step further and use an additional zinc powder coat before the black powder coat that creates a very rust resistant system.

Those are the basics. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 1-877-358-5579 . If we can answer we will and if we do not know for certain, we will find out and get back to you.

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Thank you and good shopping!