Category Archives: Sports

New Designs Put Skateboarding on a Roll

No one knows who invented the first skateboard, but it’s certain the sport first became popular in the late 1940s. California surfers were looking for a way to “catch a wave” when ocean conditions weren’t good for getting out on the board.

Skateboarding’s not a sport for everyone. To be a skater, you need the unique gift of great balance along with a measure of fearlessness. Knee and elbow pads, plus a helmet, don’t hurt, either.

Thanks to pro skaters like Tony Hawk and the extreme-sports X Games, skateboarding is now more popular than ever. Many communities even build elaborate skate parks and plazas with a variety of obstacles to keep young skaters from pursuing their pastime on streets and sidewalks.87162C_300x300

It may seem that skateboarding is inherently low tech—nothing but a platform, wheels and a rider. But this is an electric skateboard controlled by a smartphone. A free app allows riders to accelerate, slow down, and stop simply by sliding a finger across the screen. An electric motor propels the skateboard up to 12.5 mph and provides ample power for scaling 10% inclines.

87067_300x300This revolutionary new invention challenges the whole notion of what a skateboard looks like. Like a cross between roller skates and a skateboard, these sidewinding skates are propelled by leaning side to side, allowing you to skateboard without having to push off the ground. Riders simply place their feet on the two platforms and lean side-to-side to rotate the rubber wheels around the feet, propelling riders forward in a serpentine motion similar to longboard skateboarding.

12657_300x300Another new design for foot-borne transport can be found in The Electric Gyroboard, controlled entirely by subtle movements in a rider’s feet. A rider’s balance is easily maintained even while stopped by the internal gyro stabilization. The gyroboard makes for an eye-catching recreational device, or could be a memorable and unique gift for anyone who works in a warehouse or has to get to and fro frequently.

Is This the Year You’ll Win it All?

There are two ways to enjoy the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, which begins today.

The first is to simply appreciate the young players’ unique gifts of athleticism, the coaches’ leadership and the pure excitement of viewing one game after another over the next three weeks. But our favorite way is to craft a bracket and be captivated by the suspense of how far you’ll go in the office pool and by the dream that this could be the year you win it all.

Here are some bracketology tips to help you build your bracket with winning picks:

  • Don’t pick a team seeded lower than four to win – sure, a school with a low seed could always be a Cinderella spoiler, but this comes down to simple odds. In the tournament’s history, there have only been three years in which a number 1 seed didn’t advance to the Final Four.
  • Look for experienced teams and coaches – statistically, nearly all winning teams played in the previous year’s tournament and nearly all of the winning coaches have been to the Big Dance at least five times.
  • Power conferences do better – generally, the winner comes from the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big East, the Big 12, the Pac-12 or the SEC.
  • High-scoring teams – winning teams have typically scored an average of 77 points or better in games and won their games by at least 10 points.
  • Momentum matters – Look at how a team has done late in season rather than their overall record. And put more weight on teams’ away games records. After all, the Big Dance is actually a series of away games.

If you’re not the gambling type, we have some other unique gift ideas to help you and your friends enjoy basketball at this time of the year when talk of the game is everywhere.

Become a better player yourself with this shot-improving basketball 86797_300x300 featuring built-in motion sensors that provide instant, accurate feedback about one’s shooting and ball-handling skills. This basketball immediately sends data for every shot and dribble to an app running on a smartphone. The app then offers more than 50 goal-based drills for individual practice and competitions for up to five players.

83898_300x300For play that’s more about pleasant diversion, this indoor basketball net automatically passes made baskets back to the shooter who can reload and take another shot. The chute swivels 180°, allowing players to set the direction of the ball return. The unit hangs over a door and includes a foam basketball.

87227_300x300Finally, for the obsessed basketball fan, this is a unique gift they’ll surely love. This fanciful hoopster’s mug has an integrated miniature basketball hoop that lets kids of all ages play with their food. Players can face off in games of hot chocolate H.O.R.S.E. using marshmallows, slam dunk cereal into milk, or launch three pointers of oyster crackers into soup.

Celebrate Fall in the Great Outdoors

Every summer, outdoors lovers pledge to spend long hours enjoying the warm weather. That is, until mosquitoes, humidity, sweltering temperatures, and late afternoon storms conspire to drive us back inside.

But today is the first day of fall and this beautiful season offers mild, sunny weather perfect for getting outside to enjoy nature’s unique gifts of crisp temperatures and still-pleasant air. It’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor games with your friends and family.86122_300x300

Of course, the downside of autumn is that darkness falls so much earlier. Yet, darkness is no problem with this lawn dart set that glows in the dark to enable nighttime matches. The dart wings and targets are embedded with phosphor that absorbs sunlight, making the components glow at night. The darts have soft rubber, rounded tips that are weighted to enable authentic throws and trajectories.

Change up the habit of your standing summer tee time with The PDGA Approved Disc Golf Set. Designed to meet the exacting standards determined by the Professional Disc Golf Association, the set includes six discs, a target with a deflecting bar and chains and a scoring basket.84557_300x300

This freestanding badminton set instantly creates a court on a lawn, driveway, beach, or any flat surface. Now you can play nearly anywhere and nearly everyone can participate, making a friendly badminton the ideal competition for sunny autumn weekends.

And if the crisp fall breezes are not enough to get the adrenaline flowing, try The Seated Backyard Zipline Kit. This is the backyard zipline with an integrated84065_300x300 seat that allows kids to swoop through the air while remaining close to the ground. Similar to ziplines found at luxury ski resorts and adventure camps, it provides a safe, fast ride.

Celebrate the Unique Gifts of Late Summer Breezes

Today is a great day to catch a breeze…it’s National Ride the Wind Day!

On this day in 1977, the Gossamer Condor 2 flew the first human-powered flight, travelling a distance of 2,172 meters around a figure-eight course to win the Kremer prize. Ride the Wind Day celebrates Paul MacCready’s aircraft, which can be seen today on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.The Kitty Hawk Kite

Celebrate another first flight with The Kitty Hawk Kite. This kite replicates the unique canard biplane design of the original Wright Flyer from 1903, faithfully depicting the famous airplane’s airframe. The 1/12-scale wings produce a 46″ wingspan that generates lift in ideal winds of 8 – 18 mph.

An entirely different kite flying experience comes with The Motorized Stunt Kite. Using a remote-controlled gimbaled propeller, this kite can execute a variety of aerial maneuvers. With no tether, it is wirelessly controlled from up to 500′ away by a radio transmitter to execute nimble, multi-directional climbs and loops. It’s an ideal unique gift for any flight enthusiast!

If you’re itching to take to the wind and fly yourself, you may be able to achieve your The Flying Hovercraftdream with our Flying Hovercraft. This is the hovercraft that glides over land and water, yet also soars in the air up to 70 mph with the aid of integrated wings. Its low center of gravity and composite fiberglass/PVC hull enable it to operate in winds up to 25 mph and waves up to 6′ when in flight.

Finally, for excitement at the lake, this inflatable watercraft converts from a windsurfer to a sailboat. The integrated boom provides deft steering of the sail by hand when used as a windsurfer, catching the wind easily while you keep a sturdy foothold on the hull. Convert it to a sailboat to transporting a captain and first mate over the water up to 10 mph. Perhaps best of all, it stows in less than 10 minutes and fits into a rolling storage bag that easily fits into a car trunk or boat.

Enhancing the Art of Tailgating

Several weeks of summer remain before we’ll feel fall’s frosty air, but football starts this Sunday when the New York Giants face the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH. The game itself is just one part of this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement event. The multi-day schedule includes parades, autograph signings, a rib cook-off, and a fan-appreciation tailgate party.

Tailgating before a game is not exclusive to football, but we think pigskin fans have the best tailgate traditions. We have several ideas to enhance your tailgating experience, whether at an NFL game, a college homecoming, or simply under the Friday night lights nearest your home.

The Tailgaters’ Hammock sets up on any 2″ trailer hitch in just 10 minutes. Two hammock chairs have hanging footrests, allowing tailgaters to relax in a reclined position while keeping feet and legs elevated.

For the ultimate in portability, nothing beats The Backpack Cooler Chair. This chair has a cooler bag large enough for up to 24 12-oz. cans. The chair weighs only 13 lbs. and has two shoulder straps for comfortably carrying the unit to a tailgate or the beach. There’s even an integrated side table that folds out from the right armrest to rest your snacks.

Bad weather can be the tailgater’s enemy, but you won’t be caught unprepared with The Rugged All Weather Radio. This all-weather AM/FM radio is built to resist water, dust, and shock. It operates on power, batteries, or can plug into your car’s DC outlet.

Finally, for the football fan who prefers to cheer his or her team from the comfort of home, these slippers proudly display the logo and colors of your favorite NFL team. The uppers have the embroidered logo of the gridiron gladiators you cheer on every Sunday. They make a unique gift for any armchair athlete.

Unique Gifts For le Tour de Neighborhood

After 2,276 miles, four countries, and various crashes eliminating some of the race favorites, the 101st Tour de France comes to a conclusion today. A punishing 21-stage, 3-week race, the Tour traverses mountain peaks, fields of lavender, impossibly narrow European streets and French countryside with beauty that defies description.

Here in the U.S., many states and cities now feature professional cycling tours, and among recreational cyclists, the sport is more popular than ever. A bicycle is a great way to get around town. It burns calories and when a bike ride substitutes for a car trip, it saves money, reduces traffic congestion, and is environmentally green.

Perhaps you or someone you know regularly uses a bike to get to work or school. At dusk, dawn or at night, The Cyclist’s Virtual Safety Lane moThe Cyclist's Virutal Safety Laneunts to a bicycle’s seat post and projects two 5-milliwatt red lasers onto the ground, generating a virtual bicycle lane. Visible under headlights and streetlights from over a mile away, this is a thoughtful and unique gift for a bike commuter.

The Tour de France riders conquer impossibly steep mountain passes, but many of us need a little help just getting up the hill at the end of the street. The Electric Comfort Bicycle features a 500-watt electric motor that assists riders up hills or across broad flats for easy cruising. Speeds up to 20 mph are achieved with the motor only; pedaling will increase speed further. A full charge of its battery provides up to 30 miles of coasting.

The Virtual Mountain Bike Racing SimulatorPerhaps you’ve experienced the thrills of mountain biking, but can’t make it out to the terrain as much as you would like. The Virtual Mountain Bike Racing Simulator combines an exercise bike with a 17″ LCD video screen to simulate riding through outdoor courses. The bike’s electronically controlled pedaling resistance automatically increases or decreases to replicate the terrain gradients shown on the screen.

No doubt, the Tour de France riders will be relieved to pedal into Paris today for the end of this grueling race, but on a more modest level, a bike ride feels good and is good for you. So savor summer’s unique gifts with a refreshing bike ride today.

Turning Boredom into Action

Ennui. Lethargy. Tedium. However you label it, it’s all boredom.

Throughout July, the U.S. celebrates National Anti-boredom Month, and a chance to cure the call of “There’s nothing to do!” forever. We’re all for putting a bit of extra excitement into your life, and we can offer several ideas to banish boredom for people of all ages.The Backyard Zip Line Kit

The Seated Backyard Zipline Kit allows riders to swoop up to 90 feet through the air while remaining close to the ground. The system simply wraps around two trees at an incline and riders zip from one end to the other, similar to ziplines found at luxury ski resorts and adventure camps. It’s a unique gift for kids or grandkids, that helps make playing outdoors better than any video game.

You and a friend can tool around town on The Only Electric Bicycle Built for Electric Tandem BicycleTwo. The only one of its kind, this tandem electric bicycle assists riders up to 20 mph in relaxed comfort, up hills or across broad flats. Its step-through design provides easy mounting and dismounting for both riders.

For boredom that can only be cured with speed, The World’s Fastest Amphibious Car blasts over water at 44 mph and reaches 80 mph on the road. Powered by a 300-hp Honda engine, it operates like a regular vehicle on land with a four-speed manual transmission. Amphibious CarWhen it’s time to enter the water, the wheels rise above the bottom of the hull and the engine’s power is redirected to a Panther pump jet.

Time with friends is a sure cure for boredom, along with a bit of liquid social lubrication. The Aquatic Bar seats four around an integrated cooler, facilitating the unique gift of dazzling conversation. Four inflatable chairs let sitters’ legs dangle in the cooling water.

So turn the dog days of summer to the doing days of summer and your friends The Aquatic Barand family will jump up with joyful cries when they see these unique gifts perfect for Anti-boredom Month.

Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

11876_1000x1000Few other annual events are filled with as much fresh hope and promise as the start of a new baseball season. On Opening Day, every team has a clean slate and its fans have heady aspirations that this will be the year their boys go all the way.

Opening Day is a state of mind, and indeed retired shortstop Ozzie Smith this year started an online petition on wethepeople.com to urge the U.S. Government to declare the day a national holiday. If Opening Day does become a holiday, it may create another opportunity to shower friends and family with unique gifts.

For the New York Yankees fan, the ultimate unique gift may be a genuine piece of the House that Ruth Built. The Authentic Yankee Stadium Seats were removed from the stadium before it was razed, the very stadium where fans watched Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Derek Jeter and other iconic Bronx Bombers capture six World Series titles. The seats are available as pairs mounted to stand upright or as barstools, including a stool with 39 certified autographs.

The hardcore Yankee fan may also appreciate The Museum Quality 1/8 Scale 1961 Yankee Stadium. Meticulously researched, hand-built and hand-painted by artist Steve Wolf, whose stadium models are displayed in the Los Angeles Sports Museum, this amazing replica took nearly 3,000 hours to complete. This model faithfully replicates the stadium from more than 50 years ago, including period advertisements, six working light banks, and ticket windows.

Many a baseball fan has a bucket-list item to visit all the Major League ballparks. The Personalized Baseball Ballpark Map charts the stadiums you’ve visited and those you plan on seeing. The map lists all 59 ballparks that have hosted Major League Baseball teams since 1912. Color-coded pins and flags mark stadiums you’ve visited, your most recent conquest, your next destination, and your favorite stadium.

As the storied Joe DiMaggio said about the start of the season, “You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” And for those fans who know better, just wait till next year.

Channeling The Champion Swimmers Of Yore

Athletic training has come a long way since the early 20th century. Considering advances in conditioning, nutrition and psychological strategies, the feats of athletes nearly 100 years ago are all that more amazing.

When gertrude-ederleGertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel on this day in 1926, she completed an extraordinary achievement many “experts” claimed no female could do. What’s more, she did it faster than any male swimmer of the time.

Ederle, known to her friends and family as Trudy, stepped ashore on the English coast 14 hours, 31 minutes after beginning her swim from Cape Gris-Nez, France, smashing the previous record of 16 hours, 33 minutes. More than 2 million people lined the streets of New York City to greet Trudy with a ticker-tape parade when she returned to the U.S. In 1924, Trudy went on to medal in three events at the Olympic Games in Paris.

As amazing as her record time was in its day, in 2006 her time was sliced nearly in half by the current women’s world record holder. Yvetta Hlavacova of the Czech Republic who swam the Channel in 7 hours, 25 minutes.

Needless to say, consistent and frequent training is a key factor in athletic performance. While we can’t promise Olympic medals, The Swimmer’s Treadmill is the swimming pool that allows you to practice laps in a space no larger than an SUV. The pool sets up in garages, backyards, basements, or rec rooms. It uses a harness that wraps around a swimmer’s waist and a flexible elastic tether that suspends swimmers in the water, providing varying resistance–stronger strokes and kicks yield more resistance.

The swimmer’s comfort is also important to getting the most out of a training session. The Photochromatic Swimphotochromic-swim-goggles Goggles have tinted lenses that automatically brighten or darken in response to changing lighting conditions. The photochromatic lenses, common in sunglasses but unique in swim goggles, quickly darken in bright sunlight or harsh fluorescents but lighten in dimmer conditions or when the sun hides behind a cloud.

Some of us may prefer to be on the water than in the water. The English Channel Pedal Boat is the water craft that set a Guinness World Record for the fastest pedal-powered crossing of the English Channel. Possessing superior nautical qualities that enabled navigation through the Channel’s notoriously inhospitable waters, its ballasted keel provides superior stability in windy conditions for up to three passengers.

Or perhaps you’re one to sit poolside with a good book. For you, we have The Turkish Cotton Chaise Lounge Cover. This is the lounge cover made of the same superior cotton as the renowned Hammacher Schlemmer Turkish robe. Imported from Turkey’s Denizli region, a global textile center renowned for producing cotton with exceptionally long-staple fibers, the terry fabric is uncommonly soft, plush, and readily absorbs moisture. The cover provides a sumptuous resting place, while you watch the would-be record-breakers wear themselves out in the pool.

The Water Skiing Innovator Awash With Success

Skier-Controlled-BoatFor many of us, summer memories start with a lake. For some, those memories include skimming along the surface of said lake on water skies.

In 1922, a Lake City, MN, teenager named Ralph Samuelson wondered if skis could glide across water the way they do on snow. He experimented with a number of designs before finding the one that worked. Using two 8’x9″ pine boards from a lumberyard, Ralph steamed the front tips of the planks in his mother’s copper kettle so that the ends could be curved upward, keeping the skier from pitching face-first into the lake. He met with success and a sport was born!

Ralph had assistance perfecting this new sport from his brother, Ben, who drove the boat and helped his sibling practice for hours on end. It may be said that you can’t have a good water skier without a good boat driver, but we’ve found another way. The Skier Controlled Tow Boat is the unmanned water skiing boat that’s controlled entirely by the skier. A six-button control panel on the tow rope handle sends signals to the boat, allowing skiers to start, accelerate, decelerate, turn, or stop the vessel with slight thumb movements. The nearly 8′-long boat achieves speeds up to 40 MPH, creating wakes for jumps and other tricks.

Samuelson attracted his share of attention locally, performing at summer weekend water carnivals, but he never pursued patenting or otherwise publicizing his invention.  A few years later, Fred Waller of Huntington, NY, developed Dolphin Akwa-Skees and got the credit and the commercial success for the invention.

In 1966, the American Water Ski Association recognized Samuelson as the world’s first water skier and inducted him into their Hall of Fame in Winter Garden, FL, in 1977. By that time, of course, the sport had evolved to a popular show feature at warm-weather venues like Cypress Gardens in Florida and Tommy Bartlett’s Thrill Show in Wisconsin.

Have you always wanted to try a little water skiing, but you’re not sure if you have the balance and upper body strength to do so? The Waterskiing Chair is the patented chair that is mounted to a pair of water skis, allowing beginners and experts alike to ski from a stable seated position. Introduced almost 50 years ago, the chair consists of a backless seat connected to broad, widely-spaced skis by a pivoting steering mechanism. Leaning to one side in the chair automatically causes the skis to carve the water in the same direction. The chair only requires riders to hold a tow rope and maintains its balance even when crossing a boat’s wake.

However you create this summer’s memories, the season soon will be coming to a close, so be sure to get on the lake this weekend!