Background of the Athletic
Supporter & Athletic Cup
from the Shock Doc
Although legend has it that athletes in ancient
times competed nude, today's athletes opt for the comfort and security
of supportive clothing. Tracing the origins of the athletic supporter,
a.k.a. "jockstrap," according to the Research Librarian at the Fashion
Institute the precursor of today's "jock" was a rubberized cotton canvas
girdle worn more for modesty purposes than for support by bathers
(swimmers) at public beaches in the 1860's. The knitted, worsted wool
swimsuits (that covered from neck to knee) worn my men and boys of the
era were clingy and revealing when wet and the girdle was designed to
constrict, cover and flatten the offending bulge.
As public sporting events grew in popularity,
athletes (largely male) now risked charges of "corrupting public morals"
and " public lewdness" and began to wear the apparel under their tights
and uniforms when competing in publicly sponsored contests. In 1867 a
Chicago sports team refused to take the field while wearing "modesty"
girdles and forfeited the competition. A riot ensued. In a newspaper
story about the event a Dr. Lamb was quoted as "having recognized a
medical benefit to males by the wearing of a protective girdle."
The jock's journey into the world of sports
continued in 1874 in response to a request by the Boston Athletic Club
to design apparel that would provide comfort and support for bicycle
jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston." Traditional
undergarments of the day (union suits) were uncomfortable and the
rubberized girdle used by some caused chafing and blistering on the
bicycle seats. Therefore there was a need for something that
accommodated the movements of the sport and yet would contain and
control in much the same manner as the girdle. "
In 1897 the need was met as Charles Bennett, wizard
of the sporting-goods manufacturer Sharp and Smith in Chicago designed
the first jock strap. The original name was the Bike Jockey Strap, its
insignia was a large bicycle wheel, and it was intended first for
bicycle riders (who, at that time were called jockeys) and second for
horseback riders. The athletic supporter became known as a "bike jockey
strap" or "jock strap". Eventually it became simply a "jock".
The first consumer mass marketing of the jock strap
came in the 1902 edition of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog which claimed
the garment, now termed an "athletic supporter" was "medically
indicated" for all males that engage in sports or strenuous activity.
Without doubt that most of today's competitive sports would never have
developed as we know them had it not been for the jock. Serving to
provide uplift and comfort, prevent stress, pain, hernia and possibly
permanent damage and future sterility, the jock has secured its place in
sports history. Up until just recently, the design has remained
essentially the same for three-quarters of a century -- a knit pouch
held up above by a wide elastic waistband and below from two leg straps
going upward from the groin across the buttocks and connecting on the
side of the waistband.
In 2004, design technology finally revolutionized
the standard jock as Shock Doctor unveiled its innovative X-FIT™ System
featuring a wrap-around cup placement design to keep the cup comfortably
and firmly in place. And while the jockstrap still has a role in sports
underwear, new alternatives are becoming popular. Athletic supportwear
provides precise fit, improved comfort and increased athlete mobility
while keeping the genitals close to the body. Shock Doctor's innovative
line of loose-fit and compression shots combine materials that both
support and breathe, in various styles designed to meet the needs of
particular sports. To eliminate chafing, Mesh fabric construction
provides ventilation while anti-bacterial comfort lining wicks moisture
away from the skin to the exterior garment surfaces. Additional design
benefits include short panel construction, which concentrates
compression around major muscle groups for maximum support and mobility.
About 250,000 American men suffer sports-related
groin injuries every year. And ninety-nine per cent of those who engage
in active sport wear a jock and some players, like pitcher Tom Seaver of
the NY Mets use the security of two straps, plus a pair of jockey
shorts, plus a plastic cup fitted inside the second jock. Yet for all
its historical significance in the world of sports, he jockstrap alone
cannot fully protect the genitals from impact. Rather, it serves as a
holder for a plastic cup that specifically serves the purpose. Which
brings us to the history of its companion -- the athletic cup….
" The Cup"
The sports world runneth over with cups: Stanley;
Ryder; World; Davis; America's; Winston. And, of course, the good old
protective cup. Normally unsung (and always unseen), athletic cups are
traditionally uncomfortable, typically made of hard plastic, shaped
funny and can be cumbersome. Nevertheless, they have been part of the
sports scene since at least the early 1900s. The Cultural Encyclopedia
of Baseball credits catcher Claude Berry with introducing the cup to
major league baseball in 1904.
As amateur and professional sports developed, the
cup became the standard of protection for athletes in contact sports, or
those facing hard objects hurtling in their direction at high speed.
When an athlete gets ``the wind knocked out of him'' and lies crumpled
on the field in obvious pain, the reaction from spectators more likely
is a collective wince. Then, it's no laughing matter -- and one with
potentially serious medical consequences.
Early hockey players were among the first athletes
to embrace wearing cups -- providing protection against pucks are
traveling upward of 100 mph. Some goalies were even known to strap on
double cups. Soccer goalies also discovered a cup would come in handy --
especially when standing in a defensive wall waiting for the opponent to
unload a free kick.
A century after they were originally created, the
decision whether to cup or not to cup mostly comes down to personal
preference.``It's probably experientially related,'' said Don Chu,
Stanford's director of athletic training and rehabilitation. ``If you've
ever been hit there, then you probably wear one. It's not something
you're going to volunteer for again.''
Today, technology has finally reached the world of
athletic cups -- offering more comfort along with the age-old advantage
of protection. In 2004, Shock Doctor unveiled the most innovative design
yet. Featuring Multi-stage Impact Protection technology, this
revolutionary cup design combines advanced materials and superior design
to provide improved impact protection and comfort, along with increased
athlete mobility. This new generation cup dissipates impact in four
stages, with an ergonomic design mirroring the shape of the body, and
multiple vents offering improved ventilation and moisture transport.
Moments In Cup (or Cupless) History
- Former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench
supposedly broke seven cups during his Hall of Fame career.
- Philadelphia center fielder Doug Glanville was at
the plate when a pitch glanced off his bat and ricocheted off the ground
into his groin. Glanville, who doesn't wear a cup, later could laugh
about the pain, "Tell the kids not to try it at home."
- Every summer in Darryl Sutter's hometown of
Viking, Alberta, the local sports teams have a golf tournament called
the Athlete's Cup. The trophy is an actual bronzed cup.
See the 2007 line
of Shock Doc Jockstraps and Cups Here