The health and safety of youth football players is paramount to players, coaches, parents, and us at Sports Unlimited. At the core of the safety concern is the helmet; the one piece of equipment that is designed to protect the brain. Using an improperly-sized helmet is just as detrimental as wearing a helmet that does not provide great protection from cushioning systems and advanced shell construction.
As safety is the most important portion of the decision-making process for buying a football helmet, price and style still have their place because gearing Junior up for football season is time-consuming and cash-consuming. With all exaggerated grandeur, I do now present to you the new Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid Youth Football Helmet!
With Schutt’s mastery of helmet design and construction, the Vengeance DCT Hybrid is built with advanced protection technology in the most critical areas at an affordable price. The front, crown, and back parts of the helmet are strategically protected with Dual Compression TPU (DCT) technology that has elite protection against high and low velocity hits. This is accomplished with one layer of hard TPU supplemented by one layer of soft TPU to maximize the absorption of shock from impact. Schutt’s extensive research and development have determined those areas (front, crown, and back) as the highest levels of impact, needing the most advanced defense. The sides of the helmet are lined with a vinyl nitrile padding that supports and protects the rest of the player’s head. The comfort liner allows the DCT Hybrid to rest properly on the youth player’s head for a snug fit, which is not only important for comfort, but also for safety through proper fit.
The immediately noticeable difference from this helmet to others is the brand new Vengeance shell design. The largest standoff of any helmet manufactured, the Vengeance shell provides greater impact absorption as well as strength. The shell is made of ABS plastic, which is lightweight and is featured on all Schutt youth helmets to bolster protection for any young player on the field. Another impact of the new shell design is a redesigned Faceguard Line with offset eyebrow bars to augment impact absorption. Along with the face mask change, Schutt introduces the Twist-Release System to aid in the event of injury. This allows the facemask to be removed quickly and easily.
Schutt is really pushing their TPU technology, which is yet again in the AiR Maxx Jaw Pads to protect the youngster’s face. TPU is the same material used to make United States Armed Forces fighter pilot helmets. The advanced protection of this helmet through Dual Compression TPU, Vengeance Shell design, and new Faceguard Line is truly shocking at the $84.95 price.
Expertly designed and packed with new protection technology, this helmet is one that we recommend with great fervor. You can’t beat the price at Sports Unlimited and don’t forget that we’re rooting for the overall safety of all players and of course, your team!
I leave you with a video of the Doug, our Web Team Leader and the DCT Hybrid…
What better allows you to be a friend, teammate, competitor, host, and inspirer of happiness than summer lawn games? Well, there probably are other things that lend better to those roles, but heck, summer games are fun and can bring together a family and friends! I remember, in my younger summers, sitting in a low, striped polyester beach chair in the back yard, holding a glass of iced lemonade to my nape and watching my cousins blow bubbles in the sun. That child, hot and bored, wished for something a bit more exciting and fifteen years later, I happily present to you, the top five backyard games for this summer.
If you haven’t seen the game of badminton before, you’re missing something extraordinary. Reminiscent of 19th century England, the game consists of lightweight racquets, a net, and the illustrious shuttlecock. The (usually nylon) feathers of the shuttlecock provide drag so that it decelerates much quicker than a ball, which means, no out-of-the-park home runs for any over-excited players. Hit the shuttlecock in the air over the net until it hits the ground! Easy to set up in the back yard or in a park, lightweight, and affordable, badminton is a great way to involve anyone and everyone. Cheerio!
Another net game, volleyball is an incredibly fun way to get some exercise. Setting and spiking competitively or leisurely tossing the ball back and forth, this game works for everyone. Learning this game also can have advantages when you come across a game of indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, or even water volleyball. Make some memories this summer with family games of backyard ball in the sun.
At my desk, there isn’t much in this world more enticing than being outside with some buddies, baseball game on the radio, and tossing a bean bag with a cold beverage in my free hand. I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of relaxing and taking advantage of the warmer months. Sometimes referred to as tailgate games, toss games are simple and require little set up. Usually in the form of a bean bag, players toss the object underhanded at a target. Rules depend on the game being played, but the simplicity and the game-day feel of toss games definitely put them on the top five summer games list.
With origins dating back 400 years, croquet can transport you through time. Well, no. But it is exciting, classic, and perfect for some backyard Saturday fun. Whether you’re sporting knickers and argyle socks or some under armour shorts, any day with reasonable weather is a perfect day for croquet. I had fun playing this ball and mallet game as a kid at my grandparents’ house in Maine and this summer I will be definitely getting into some croquet mischief, putting on an English accent, creating new rules, and competing feverishly with my young nephews. Undoubtedly a winner, croquet is perfect for backyard hangouts.
Albeit strange, pitching oversized shoes of a horse is cool. Ancient Grecians tossed them when they couldn’t afford a discus. Soldiers threw mule shoes in Union Camps during the Civil War. Abounded in history, horseshoes is a game everyone knows and playing it is easier than ever today. All you need is two stakes and some horseshoes to pitch. The skillful pitch of the shoe is not something that demands tremendous physical ability, which makes it perfect for players of all ages. Backyard or in the sand, horseshoes defines the summer as the epitome of relaxing, fun, and memorable!
Let’s face it, there probably hasn’t been a time in your life when you’ve thought, “What I really wish I had right now was a nice croquet set.”
But there are some thoughts we have all the time – especially as summer approaches.
“How am I going to take advantage of this nice weather?”
“What am I going to do with the people coming to my barbecue this weekend?”
“Someone get these kids out of my house for an hour.”
“I hope I don’t run out of ketchup.”
OK, you’re on your own with that last one. But the answer to some of your other summer dilemmas may be something as simple as a croquet set. And one of the most popular items we carry at Sports Unlimited is the North Meadow Scottsdale 6-player set.
While many of us have played the game at a grandparent’s house or seen a set stashed in the corner of a garage, croquet is probably not at the top of your summer activity list. Maybe it’s time to change that.
Think about it. The rules are simple, it takes little time to set up, you can play anywhere and you can easily talk, eat and drink while playing.
Other than the fact that its made in the USA, what makes the North Meadow Scottsdale set so appealing is its quality. One of our best-selling items, this set is built to stand the test of time. And if you’re going to be using this to entertain guests, your kids or your kids’ kids, you want something that’s sturdy and won’t need replacing.
That’s the biggest advantage to choosing a quality set like this over a cheaper version. It won’t start breaking and bending after a few games and years later, you’ll still have a usable set. The mallets are made of hard maple wood, which looks great and ages well.
Also – and very importantly – this set comes with a rule book. Without that, many of us wouldn’t even know where to start. But a quick scan of the rules will easily get you on your way. Then you can start setting up the two 24-inch goal stakes and the nine square poly-coated steel wickets that come in their own storage sack.
After that, you can roll out the six colorful 3 5/16-inch balls and start whacking them with any of the six 30-inch mallets with 8 1/2-inch heads.
After a game or two, pack it all up in the nylon carrying bag and get back to manning the grill or taking an afternoon nap.
Odds are you’ve barely broken a sweat and accomplished your goal of getting outside for a little bit.
It was undoubtedly the highlight of my driveway basketball career – the day I could finally dunk on a 10-foot rim.
I can still remember it today, nearly 15 years later. Timing out my steps, taking off on my right foot, throwing my sisters’ women’s sized basketball through the hoop and feeling the rim hit my fingers. Months of practice had paid off, and I couldn’t wait to show my dad after he got home from work.
I waited for him, practicing the routine and anticipating what he would say. When he finally pulled into the garage, I was ready. I bounded across the driveway, elevated, slammed the ball… and tore the rim straight off the backboard.
My dad’s reaction: “Great” accompanied by an exasperated look.
Basketball systems have come a long way since then. And whether you’re looking to put up a hoop to get you through a few years or one to practice like an NBA All-Star, Sports Unlimited has something for you. After choosing our top five favorites a few years ago, here’s a look at a variety of our top picks for adjustable hoops to suit any budget.
One of our least expensive systems, the Five-Star Intruder won’t take up a lot of space in the driveway but will give you a reliable hoop. The system comes with a 3″ round pole, a 30″x44″ clear acrylic backboard, a flex rim and a backboard pad. An EZ Crank Height Adjuster will allow you to vary the rim height between 7.5′ and 10′ and a three-foot deep footing will secure the pole. If you’re just starting out, this pole is a great option.
The Spalding NBA 88355 is an affordable hoop from same quality manufacturer the NBA trusts. Slightly larger than the Five-Star Intruder, this system comes with a 50″ acrylic backboard that’s perfect for young players to start on. It has 1/2″ support arms to provide sturdiness and realistic rebounding and is adjustable from 7.5′-10′ feet in six-inch increments. The three piece system is easy to set up and includes a 3.5″ round steel pole that goes directly into the ground.
An upgrade on the 88355, this basketball hoop won’t break your budget and won’t break down with heavy use. Constructed using a 4-inch square pole, the 88365 is more supportive than most other poles in its price range. It can also stand up to Mother Nature thanks to rust-resistant powder coated steel components. The backboard is slightly bigger than our other picks in this range, measuring 32″x54″, and is made from acrylic. It’s also equipped with Spalding’s U-Turn lift system to easily adjust from 7.5′ to 10′.
One of the most important things to look for in a basketball system is rigidity and First Team offers that with its Champ III Adjustable Basketball Hoop. This hoop includes a 4″x4″, 11-gauge steel pole that’s heavier than most others. That means your 36″x54″ acrylic backboard will stay firm when you’re looking to bank home a winning shot. The Insta-Just height adjustment doesn’t require any tools and will allow you to set the rim from 7.5′ to 10′ for various levels of play. As an added bonus it comes with First Team’s Lifetime Superior Warranty, which covers any damage or failure caused by basketball activity.
As soon as your hoop is up, you’re going to want to have your friends over to play. Imagine their look when they see the styling of the Smoked Lottery Pick Adjustable Basketball Hoop from Bison. The smoked tempered glass tinted backboard does more than look the part. It also provides some function, reducing the sun’s glare on bright days. The hoop adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′ and has a 30″ offset, so there’s room to battle under the boards without fear of banging into the pole. The pole is mounted with a direct barrier 30 inches into the ground. This hoop includes a Lifetime Limited Warranty from Bison to cover damage from “normal or intended use.”
A new kid on the block, the GameChanger GC44-LG Adjustable Basketball System offers incredible value. Its 4″x4″ pole is one solid piece, providing superior strength to the two-piece pole used by most competitors. Unlike the systems above, this hoop is made to go with you if you move thanks to its anchor bolt mounting system. Like its competitors, the GC44-LG adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′ and has a 30″ offset. It also comes with a breakaway rim and post and backboard pads for maximum safety. Each hoop has black powder coat paint to resist harsh weather conditions and GameChanger’s lifetime warranty makes it a strong choice.
When you enter the highest price range you get some bells and whistles and the Triple Eight Series doesn’t disappoint. In fact, we like this series so much at Sports Unlimited that we’re installing its big brother behind our warehouse later this week. What makes it special? How about the 3/8″ tempered glass that will provide true rebounds off the 54″x36″ backboard. Or maybe its the durability of a 5″ square steel pole, covered with an accompanying pole pad, that will offer strong support. Spalding is the officially-licensed brand of the NBA and this backboard has the sticker to prove it. The stainless steel poles won’t rust and a 3′ board offset gives you plenty of room to do your best Dr. J impression to wow your friends. You can do that at a variety of heights as this system adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′.
If you lie in bed late at night dreaming of walking across the stage and shaking hands with David Stern, then you may want to invest in a Spalding Arena View. The unique design of the support bars, which attach to the widest part of the backboard, will offer unmatched rigidity to give you a true feel on the 1/2″ tempered glass. A 60″x38″ backboard will allow you enough space to practice this with a 180-degree breakaway rim to protect from injury. Like the Triple Eight Series, the Arena View also has a 3′ offset and has the U-Turn Pro lift system to make it easy to adjust it from 7.5′-10′. Its also NBA licensed and comes with a stadium-style pole pad.
For maximum features at a great price, look no further than the Triple Threat TPT664-XXL. A 6″ square post and a 42″x72″ backboard are the same specs used by the pros. One of its best features is that it adjusts from 10′ all the way down to 5.5′ so you can get started early on grooming the next Lebron. The basket features a 4′ offset to keep you away from the pole and also comes with post and backboard pads for added safety. A galvanized WeatherShield undercoat and black powder top coat make this system weather-proof and it also has a bolt down anchor base so it can move along with you.
It is tiring and difficult to exude appreciation on a consistent basis, but our mothers deserve no less. As a family owned company, we at Sports Unlimited feel pretty darned strongly about our families and the special relationship everyone has with his or her mother. This weekend is not the time for us to sell, but for us to celebrate!
Showering our mother or grandmother or the mother of our children with gifts is lovely, but common. The right gift can be truly heartfelt, but the one perfect way to convey our sincere appreciation is simply to spend time with her. Make the phone call, drive down the street or go for a walk with her. When we can’t necessarily say precisely how we feel, a mother knows that a squeeze of the hand, an honest glare, or the words ‘Thank You’ from her son or daughter is the recognition of a lifetime of compassion and giving. At 5:30AM on Sunday, I’ll be awake and groggily readying myself for the Susan G. Komen 5K in Philadelphia, but whether you are racing or not, being active and supportive to your mother in any endeavor is important.
Spending time and acknowledging her value as a mother is what Mother’s Day is about, but that isn’t to say that moms don’t like gifts! I would however suggest that you buy her something that represents the person she is and wants to be. We won’t stop you from running, or relaxing, or climbing a mountain, but maybe this weekend, bring your mom along.
Sports can strike a cord in all of us for a variety of reasons.
The history, the nostalgia, the wow factor. Great players coming up with big plays in big moments and teams capturing our hearts on championship runs.
Joy, anger, elation and sadness all have big roles in sports. And so too does laughter. Nothing showcases that as much as bloopers.
But with increases in technology and the rise in the skill level of athletes, we’re left with far less to laugh at these days. In fact, some companies are making it their business to make the blooper reel no laughing matter.
Take, for example, Unequal Technologies and their recent introduction of helmet and hat pad reinforcers to the market.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone have any need for an additional liner in their baseball hat? You’re not getting a ball thrown at you and you already have your glove to protect you. And to that point, I give you Jose Canseco.
Now known more for blowing the lid off the steroid scandal than for blowing the cover off the baseball, there was a time when Canseco was among the best in the game. The first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season, Canseco was named to five all-star teams in his first eight years in the majors with the Oakland A’s.
After reaching three straight World Series from 1988-1990, the A’s fell from prominence, and, to a large extent, so did Canseco. He was traded from Oakland to the Texas Rangers late in 1992 and bottomed out in May of 1993 when he lost track of a Carlos Martinez fly ball, which hit him in the head at the warning track and bounced over the fence for a home run.
Three days later, he pitched the eighth inning of a blowout loss to the Red Sox, injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery in the process. He missed the remainder of the season and though he bounced back to win the Comeback Player of the Year award in 1994, he was never the same player.
Had he installed a HPZ Halo helmet pad in his cap on that fateful day, maybe he wouldn’t have become a sideshow. Maybe he would have played out the ’93 season, and gotten closer to the 500-home run mark (he ended his career 38 dingers shy, despite playing just 60 games that season). Maybe he wouldn’t have had a need to thrust himself back into the spotlight with a book exposing baseball’s dirty secret. And maybe, just maybe, the course of baseball history would have been changed forever.
Welcome to the 2013 Sports Unlimited Football Equipment Draft. With all of our minds on the upcoming NFL Draft, we decided to present our own style of draft that features the best of the best football equipment that you can find at SportsUnlimited.com because we want to equip you with what you need to make 2013 the most memorable season of your life.
We have randomly generated a draft order for some of our expert compatriots at SU and I will be documenting the draft so that you can stay informed with the top-of-the-line, most advanced products in the industry. Here are the top ten picks!
With the luck of the draw, the coveted first overall pick in our draft goes to Andre from the Customer Service department. With every product still on the board, Andre selects the Schutt Titanium Big Grill 2.0 Football Facemask. Lighter and stronger than steel, this facemask brings the performance of a No.1 pick. Peak performance with the most intimidating and wicked design on the market make the Titanium Big Grill 2.0 one fearsome mask only available at Sports Unlimited.
With so many incredible products remaining, Jason felt the pressure when he was on the clock and let it get down to 00:01 before deciding that the Schutt AiR Maxx Flex Adult Football Shoulder Pads – QB / WR were worthy of the 2nd pick. I have to agree with him because the Quarterback to Wide Receiver connection can put six points on the board on any given play. Ultimate protection with strategically placed TPU and superb range of motion give these pads the best draft rating in the biz. Drafting performance and protection for some of the most important positions on the field is always an excellent choice.
In an early shock, Steve from our Web Team is going deep with the Cutters X40 C-Tack Revolution Adult Football Receiver Gloves. Equipped with a self-restoring C-Tack grip and available in an array of colors, these gloves make plays. Steve knows that fumbles and drops can cost dearly on the gridiron and he wasn’t afraid to snag an elite pair of ‘hands’ this high in the draft. Great pick!
The fourth pick belongs to our wise leader and President, Don who makes the most popular pick of the draft with the Schutt Vengeance DCT Adult and Youth Helmets. Don goes with the numbers here because he knows this popular helmet lives up to the hype and “has been our number one selling helmet this year”! The TPU in the DCT is the same material used in United States Armed Forces fighter pilot and paratrooper helmets. Combined with a re-imagined shell design, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this go first overall!
Having had head and jaw injuries in the past, I knew from the start that I needed to draft a great helmet. With Don having taken the Schutt Vengeance DCT off the board, my decision became a lot easier because my internal argument was between the former and the Riddell 360 Adult Football Helmet. With Concussion Reduction Technology, Flex Face Guard, and Riddell’s Hexagonal Liner System, I may have just picked up the best helmet in the world.
Web Team is here with another pick, and Steph, with an understanding of how important vision is on the field, dashes to our imaginary podium to select the Oakley Football Eyeshield. Steph trusts the Plutonite construction and HDO (High Definition Optics) technology from Oakley because wherever you are on the field, your decision-making relies on vision. The value here is playing smart and Steph’s team is going to be built on great vision and smart decisions.
At the seventh pick, Doug, the feared Web Team Manager, picks up the product at the top of his draft board, the Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid+ Youth Football Helmet. “I like the combination of all the latest protection technologies and the value you get versus the Youth Vengeance DCT.” The innovative combination of Dual Compression TPU and traditional vinyl nitrile padding makes this youth helmet high in protection and low in price. This could be the steal of the draft!
Michele, one of our Customer Service Supervisors, has the football knowledge and competitive spirit to know that winning on the gridiron takes great footwork and her strategy is speed, speed, speed. She’s getting some traction with theNew Balance 993 Mid Mens Lacrosse / Football Cleats. These cleats were designed to have the versatility, durability, and lightness to make a player dangerous. Speed with stability can go a long way.
We have back to back Customer Service Supervisor picks and this one belongs to Jamie. One of the friendliest people around, he cares about our products and our customers, which is why he is going with the Wilson TDS Leather High School Football. Without a ball, you can’t play and this beauty is approved by NFHS for high school play. Practice your skills with the ball or play some catch out back because a tight spiral just looks better with an official ball. You can see and feel the quality with 899 full-grain leather.
Ryan received the tenth and last pick in the draft, but with the expertise he has as a Buyer and Customer Service Manager, he can draft in any position and come out with a winner. He calls the Schutt Y Flex All Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads, “great youth shoulder pads that our customers love for all positions. Value is excellent.” Ryan picks for strength and versatility with these youth shoulder pads that feature Air Flex tech and vapor holes to maintain protection with great comfort. Safety is paramount whether you are developing football skills or playing at an elite level.
There you have it, our inaugural Sports Unlimited Football Equipment Draft is complete. I’d like to thank the participants for lending their expertise. I’ll declare the draft a success due to my personal happiness with my pick and I know you all were rooting for me. This draft could have gone any which way because the top ten draft picks were only a tiny sample of what SportsUnlimited.com has to offer!
Luis Suarez bit an opponent, again. He also mesmerized with an assist and snagged a last-gasp equalizer to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick. As I watched the Liverpool Chelsea clash on Sunday and saw the same struggles Liverpool has dealt with all season, it seemed like yet another winnable match that they would, in the end, lose due to poor finishing and avoidable turnovers. That is not exactly how it played out. With a brilliant first goal from the Reds that was reminiscent of the glory days of the Kop, rather, the touches were so impeccable that there is nothing to which to compare it except for those brief moments of perfect football that before you acknowledge their existence, are gone to the land of replays. It wasn’t until after the converted penalty from Eden Hazard in the second half (given due to Suarez handling the ball in the penalty area), that Suarez bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
It was shocking to see a player, and one of such quality, literally sink his teeth into another player. Both hands grasped the arm as if it were a turkey leg and he the guest of honor at a feast in the heart of the Dark Ages. It is hard to imagine that Suarez had an understanding of what he was doing as he began his descent into the flesh of another person because what could possibly be rationally going through his mind? This is not even the first time he has bit a fellow player during a professional match. While playing for Ajax in the Netherlands, he was fined and served a long ban for biting an opponent. It seems as though, in our sad reality, he has a reputable history of biting players now. A fine from Liverpool FC will not do.
Oh boy, Luis Suarez at his strangest. And of course, at his finest as he equalized in the 97th minute to deprive Chelsea of the vital three points.
Do defenders need now wear protective gear for the flesh of their arms? What do you think?