The roots of basketball history go all the way back to 1891, when Dr. James Naismith, a native of our hometown of Almonte, Ontario, first invented the game. This is not to say that there has not been a fair amount of innovation in both the way the game is played as well as with the equipment that is used in today’s game.
One of those innovations is the invention of the breakaway rim, which today is the most common configuration of basketball goals in the world. While in the early days of the sport, the act of dunking the basketball on the goal was considered to be “ungentlemanly”, the game has evolved to not only accept dunking as a common form of scoring, but it has morphed into somewhat of an art form, as players participate in slam dunk competitions regularly.
The need for a new goal became apparent as dunking became increasingly popular, often leaving either the rim or the backboard or both pieces of equipment in need of repair. A shattered or broken backboard or disfigured rim could delay games for hours on end while they were replaced.
While many folks attempt to lay claim to the invention of the breakaway goal, one man alone is recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation as the inventor of the product. That man’s name was Arthur Ehrat, a grain elevator worker from Illinois.
It was in 1976 when Ehrat added a hinge and a spring from a John Deere cultivator to a rim that effectively allowed the iron ring to bend slightly and immediately snap back into place. The ironic part about Arthur Ehrat is that he was never much of a basketball fan, as he told the Chicago Tribune;
"Honest to pieces, I know practically nothing about the damn game," he said. "I pay attention to the dunk. That's the only thing I wait for."
Mr. Ehrat unfortunately passed away this past summer at the age of 90 years old in Virden, Illinois. While he did say after he was able to finally patent the product, he ended up spending most of what he made on lawyers, defending his claim as the original inventor of the breakaway rim.
Today, his legacy continues to thrive as the sport of basketball continues to flourish around the globe. Many of the products on the market today are a far stretch from his original “deformation-preventing swingable mount for basketball goals”, which was officially patented in 1982, six years after he invented the product.
His original design, named “The Rebounder” was able to bend and snap back after 125 pounds of force was applied to it. We proudly carry a variety of breakaway goals, inspired by Mr. Ehrat’s original designs.
Our 5500 and 6600 models of breakaway hoops are primarily manufactured for use in recreational settings and on playgrounds. The 5500 model is designed in a front-mount configuration, while the 6600 is configured strictly for rear-mounted basketball backboards. The 3000 Master Goal is our competition-approved product, meeting all NCAA and high school specifications and is designed for mounting on glass backboards. This breakaway hoop features a 230 lb pressure setting and displays no deformation at loads of up to 1,400 lbs.
While many facilities and municipalities still do opt for more traditional fixed rims, nothing can beat the durability of a breakaway rim, which has been reducing the risk of player injury and equipment damage for 40 years.