JOCKSTRAPS and OTHER DIGRESSIONS

 

Sometimes the derivation of words gets lost over time…and sends me down a rabbit hole.  I don’t know why I felt the need to research the history of the jockstrap…I just did.

There was a time I would not be caught dead without an athletic supporter once I knew what they were and what they were designed to do.  This was not due to the science behind the jockey strap but in response to my naivety in the1960s and certain scare tactics employed to make sure we were wearing them.  Our coaches would explain in a very serious and hushed tone, “You do want to have children when you grow up don’t you?” or “If you don’t wear that thing your ding a ling will fall off!” or “If you keep doing that you will go blind!” … oops, the wrong scare tactic. This leads me to the less than extensive research I have done about the athletic supporter or what is known as the jockstrap, jockey strap or just plain ole “jock.”

It would be a logical leap to believe that the athletic supporter became known as a jockey strap because jockeys wore them. Logical yes, but that is not correct.  Jockey simply means rider.  Jockey straps were invented for Boston bicycle riders and not the diminutive munchkins riding horses in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness.

In 1874, the first jockstrap was invented by Charles Bennett, a worker for Sharp & Smith, a Chicago hosiery company.  He created it to remedy what he called “floppy man parts” as cyclists rode over the cobblestone streets of Boston.  In their advertisement, our little friends were referred to as “floppy man parts.”  There were so many complaints about jiggling jewels the jockey strap was invented to keep our little man friends tucked safely up and out of harm’s way.

I have to digress.  The first jockstraps used in team sports was by hockey players, also in 1874.  It would 1979 before helmet use would be required in hockey.  Took a while to figure out which head was important.

The first jockstrap was a type of bike jockey strap, not to be confused with a type of Bike Jockey Strap.  The Bike Company, producer of over three hundred and fifty million jock- straps bought the patent and went into business.  If you are thinking there is a tie-in between the Bike Company and bike riders, again you would be wrong.  The Number One manufacturer of athletic supporters began life as the Bike Web Company years before.

The lineage of the jock strap likely can be traced back to when Babylonian men “girded their loins” before a battle in the Fertile Crescent some five thousand years ago or as Roman soldiers using a leather belt with flaps hanging over their “danglies” conquered an empire.

The history gets a bit bizarre in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when European men were men and women could not help but notice it.  During this time, men liked to flaunt their packages even if their packages were lacking “flaunt-ability” by use of a pouch-like accouterment called the codpiece.

Cod means, and since I really don’t care if this is in good taste or not, scrotum as derived from the Greeks.  From this word derives the slightly off-color description, “cod sack.”  In some cases, the codpiece was used as a false advertisement somewhat like the modern “Wonder Bra” or “falsie” but stopped short of being like the “fake boob”.  Can you really call something like a boob fake?  I really need to do some hands-on research on the subject.  The codpiece of old gave you an impression of more where there wasn’t necessarily more.  It was like driving a big four by four to compensate for certain “little man” inadequacies.

You might have seen codpieces and not known it.  They seem to be a part of costumes associated with Heavy Metal bands in the Seventies or singers like Gene Simmons of KISS, along with male ballet dancers.  Dancers I understand but who knew singers had to worry about jiggling and flopping.  Maybe they reach those high notes by using too tight codpieces or felt a need to be protected from all those teen groupies.

No matter how bizarrely Heavy Metal bands dressed, none were as bizarre as the actual codpieces produced and worn in what I thought was the less brazen period of the fifteen and sixteenth centuries.  I was mistaken at least when it came to men.  Men adorned the front of their armor or trousers with what resembled…ah…well…very large…erect…man parts.  Some were adorned with angry heads resembling serpents, animals and my personal favorite a plumed bird.  “Want to touch the birdy?  It might chirp at you.”

During the Seventies, the use of jockey straps seemed to decline.  It wasn’t that we weren’t still concerned about our little friends or because it was the era of “free love,” it was just that technology had advanced to the point that they weren’t needed as much.  Compression shorts, football girdles and baseball sliding shorts all made appearances and kept your man parts out of the way.  I have even traded my jock strap for what a female friend of mine calls “Mandex”, compression shorts made from Spandex.

I should point out that I do not run around in Spandex.  I have taken the time to look at myself in a mirror, notice what other men my age look like in spandex running or bike shorts and have mandated the use of running shorts over my “Mandex.”

During my years as a football coach, our players wore what were called girdles which resembled the ladies’ apparel of the same name.  In addition to keeping our player’s “jewels” in place and out of harm’s way, they had pouches where their hip and thigh pads were inserted.  Despite this technological advance, some of our players would still wear jockstraps, some in interesting ways including over their girdle.

When stretching before practice I noticed one of my defensive end’s posterior had pink hearts showing through his white practice pants when he stretched.  Because I have an inquiring mind and am easily distracted I could not help wondering why he wore his jock over his girdle and then decided to put his underwear on top before putting on his football pants…I still wonder.

From the book “Floppy Parts” by Don Miller.  It can be purchased or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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COACH ‘EM UP AND LOVE ‘EM

An article from the Washington Post by Chuck Culpepper, “Across college football, ‘I love you’ becomes audible” caught my eye. It featured an exchange, among others, which took place between Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Deshaun Watson after the 2016 National Championship loss to Alabama. As Dabo finished answering a question he turned to Watson and said, “I love you.” Watson returned the love with a back at you “Love you too” to Swinney. There is a great deal to love about these men if you are a Clemson fan.

Football has certainly changed from the days of Frank Howard, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Darrell Royal. The major change is reflected in Royal’s quote, “When you throw a pass three things can happen to it, and two of them are bad.” I would say today’s coaches have totally ignored that pearl of wisdom and have proven the one good thing that can happen is a whole bunch of points are being scored. Another change I doubt any of these “old school” coaches would have ever uttered, is a statement like “I love you” to a player. Old school coaches simply would not or COULD NOT say it.

It is only recently men have been free to express feelings of love for other men…in a manly kind of way. See, I have trouble even talking about it. I can’t even give more than a “love ya Man” to my brother and I feel terrible I am so repressed. Coaches kissing their players on the cheek or giving out hugs, until recently, were restricted to the women’s side of athletics. Displays of affection have now found there way over to the men’s side of the bench and I say GREAT! Until this era the best a player might hope for would be a slap on the butt or a noogie.

I’m sure Frank, Woody, Bo and Darrell all loved their players and for the most part I’m sure their players knew it…maybe. I guess I should add my name to the list. I can’t remember ever coming out and saying “I love you” to a team. Maybe late in my career. You ask a bunch of kids to sweat and bleed for you but you are too repressed to let them know you care about them as young men by saying it. Shame on me.

Once after a particular tough loss, I asked South Carolina high school hall of fame coach Mike Anthony what I should do. His wisdom was simple, “Nothing you can do except coach ’em up and love ’em.” Wise words…wish I had listened. Soooooooo, to all my former players, sorry I’m late doing this…I LOVE YOU and while I’m at it, THANK YOU.

To all of you new coaches or coach want to bes, don’t be afraid to “coach ’em up and love ’em.”

The complete article by Chuck Culpepper can be accessed from the following link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/across-college-football-i-love-you-becomes-audible/2016/11/23/e2d61f4c-a90d-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life, humor and Southern stories of a bygone time, try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

WINNERS AND LOSERS…but not really

I’ve seen so much written and spoken, negatively, about the Rio Olympics and admit to falling into the same negativity with the Zika virus, dead body parts found in beach sand, fecal matter in ocean water, the hidden favelas, participants robbed at gun point and, on a lighter note, how much side boob or butt crack some of our beach volley ball players might be showing. No I was not negative about our volley ball players and MORE than JUST appreciated the buff female forms in bikinis, stretching and diving athletically for their sport. I really don’t understand why people involved in high levels of athletics are not supposed to look good doing it, male or female, without coming under so much public scrutiny. Originally weren’t the first Olympics performed au naturale? Here’s to the good old days…oh wait…they were male only? Let’s just forget that idea. I was also negative about how much the Olympics actually pulled the world’s people together and wondered if any of us were burning with the fire of the Olympic flame as we ridiculed “outspoken” people wearing hijabs or failing to put their hands over their hearts.

In my first attempt at writing badly, Winning was Never the Only Thing, I attempted to convey the idea that sports was more about the people who participated in athletic endeavors than the act of winning itself. Whether it was winning a game or losing an event, paramount was recognizing that even the losers put forth great effort…and display a “winning” effort. No I don’t believe everyone should get a trophy but everyone should be recognized for the effort that they put in to “winning or losing” and just not for the winning. Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, Michael Phelps and the rest of the medal winners should be praised for their accomplishments but what embodies the Olympic Spirit, and winning in general, for me, was exemplified when Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand became tangled with each other in the five thousand meters. After Hamblin went down, D’Agostino tripped over her and also fell to the ground. Though the US runner’s leg was badly injured, the runners helped each other to their feet, and Hamblin cheered on the American as she stumbled, in obvious pain with an Olympics’ ending knee injury, to the finish line…in last place. After finishing, both runners embraced in what ABC’s WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS would have called “the agony of defeat.” I would call it displaying a “gold medal” attitude despite the fact I could hardly see the display due to the tears in my eyes. On the same day, Haitian hurdler Jeffery Julmis face planted on the first hurdle in the one-tens losing any chance of a medal. Instead of staying down in humiliation, Julmis untangled himself and completed the race to finish last…because finishing must be important.

Are there really any losers in the Olympics? I’m not sure we could call the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team “world class” but they did qualify and later had a movie made about them. The same year Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Great Britain’s “heroic loser” finishing last in the seventy and ninety-meter ski jumps but also had a movie made about his efforts. How can “losing” be important enough to have a movie made about it? More to the point I ask “Is Carrie Walsh a loser for not winning the gold in 2016…after two golds in previous Olympics?” The same could be asked about Gabby Douglas, who won an individual gold in 2012 but didn’t in 2016. I think the answer is no…and would add all the non-medal finishers to my list, BUT NO THEY DON’T GET TROPHIES FOR PARTICIPATING.

I am proud of what the United States has done and the legends we have been made but I am also proud of the losers too. To make the Olympics is a major accomplishment and all of the athletes deserve our heart-felt applause if they display the “Spirit of the Olympics.” Despite the comments of a certain US soccer goalie and the failure of an Egyptian to shake an Israeli’s hand, most participants have kept their “humility” in both victory and in defeat despite the inappropriate saying “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Show me a good loser and I’ll show you an Olympian.

For more of Don Miller’s unique outlook on life please click on the following link to purchase a book, view links to his blog or just to follow. Thank you. https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM