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Gym shorts are an article of clothing typically worn by people when exercising. They are typically made out of fabrics that allow for maximum comfort and ease, such as nylon. Brands such as Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, and Reebok all make gym shorts. Cotton gym shorts were made popular by a cheerleading brand called Soffe. Gym shorts or sweatpants are required for many junior high and high school physical education courses.
While gym shorts were traditionally worn by men, from the late 1970s and onward, women began wearing them for better comfort at the gym as well as a modern fashion trend.
Changes from short to baggy
Up until the late 1980s, men's gym shorts were very short. Knee-length shorts were rarely seen outside of safari parks.
The first time today's "baggy" or "bermuda" look was publicized was when Michael Jordan wore baggy shorts in the Nike commercial with Spike Lee in 1988. Another basketball team who emphasized today's men modern style, who were inspired by Michael Jordan, was the Fab 5 Wolverines, who included Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, and Jalen Rose. After that, the look spread into other NBA and other sports. The look quickly expanded into mainstream American culture, and baggy shorts soon replaced upper-thigh shorts outside the sportsworld.
Even as the short shorts became scarce in the NBA, John Stockton of the Utah Jazz continued to wear them until his retirement in 2003. Also, during a hardwood classics night on December 31, 2007, the Los Angeles Lakers wore the short shorts against their 1980s rival, the Boston Celtics.
Nowadays, gym shorts are worn by adolescents on a daily basis in the spring and summer months. While some boys prefer shorts that reach the calf, most wear shorts that stop at the knee or just above, propagating the style as fashion. The appeal of these knee length shorts as warm weather wear is diminishing as most adults find the added length of cloth restrictive and counterproductive in truly active or competitive sports. A modern example of this departure was evident during the 2012 Olympics when the USA men's volleyball team opted for the more athletic-friendly thigh length. The international volleyball federation (FIVB) now requires men's shorts to have an inseam of at most 10 centimeters (3.9 inches). Shorter cut gym shorts appear to be slowly returning to popularity for those that favor function over fashion.
Many gym shorts have an inlay made of a comfortable fabric such as cotton, similar to swim shorts. These are designed to be worn without underwear. The pre-1990s short shorts remain the standard for men in running activities. Originally, gym shorts were worn by boys and men along with a jockstrap only underneath. Schools across the country required boys to wear a jock, also known as an athletic supporter, for all PE/gym activities. This provided protection from testicle torsion, from squishing them between the thighs, and for modesty purposes. Nowadays, many boys and men wear boxers, boxer briefs, compression shorts, swim briefs or other standard underwear, although jockstraps are now making a comeback.
- "Volleyball Sports Material, Team Equipment and Advertising Guidelines" (PDF). Fédération internationale de volleyball. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2013-07-21.