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A jockstrap (also known as a jock, jock strap, strap, supporter, or athletic supporter) is an undergarment for supporting the male genitalia during cycling, sports or other vigorous physical activity. A jockstrap consists of a waistband (usually elastic) with a support pouch for the genitalia and two elastic straps affixed to the base of the pouch and to the left and right sides of the waistband at the hip. The pouch, in some varieties, may be fitted with a pocket to hold an abdominal guard (impact resistant cup, box) to protect the testicles and the penis from injury.
Jockstraps for athletic purposes are most commonly worn in North America.
The word jockstrap has purportedly been in use at least since 1888, a likely contraction of "jockey strap", as the garment was first designed for bicycle-riding messengers and deliverymen, or 'bike jockeys'. The Bike Jockey Strap was the first jockstrap manufactured in America in 1874.
Jockey meaning 'rider', primarily a race horse rider, has been in use since 1670. Jockey itself is the diminutive form of the Scots nickname Jock (for John) as Jackie is for the English nickname Jack. The nicknames Jack and Jackie, Jock and Jockey have been used generically for 'man, fellow, boy, common man'. From the period c.1650-c.1850, 'jock' was used as slang for penis.
The jockstrap was invented in 1874 by C. F. Bennett of a Chicago sporting goods company, Sharp & Smith, to provide comfort and support for bicycle jockeys working the cobblestone streets of Boston. In 1897 Bennett's newly formed Bike Web Company patented and began mass-producing the Bike Jockey Strap. The Bike Web Company later became known as the Bike Company. Bike was, until 2016, a leading producer of jockstraps. In that year, the company and its trademarks were purchased by Russell Athletic.
The jockstrap was also influential in early 20th-century medicine with the invention of the Heidelberg Electric Belt, a low-voltage electric powered jockstrap that claimed to cure kidney disorders, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, and other ailments. Today, jockstraps are still worn mostly by adolescent and adult men for sports, weightlifting, medical purposes and for recovery from injury or surgery for such conditions as hematocele, groin hernia[disambiguation needed], hydrocele, or spermatocele.
Jockstraps are fairly consistent in design with variations appearing in details like width of waistband and fabrics. Some jockstraps are designed for specific sports: Swim jocks, for example, have a narrow waistband, and hockey jocks sometimes have adjustable elastic straps and garter clips that hold hockey socks in place while the bulky goalie protector has genital and abdominal foam padding. Windproof jockstraps have a special layer of fabric to protect the wearer from wind and cold in winter sports. Jockstraps are made in other materials as fetish wear. Aside from the aforementioned "fashion jockstraps", the 2000s have seen a resurgence in jockstrap designs and brands.
Alternatives to jockstraps include the jock brief, or support briefs, which have the wide waistband of a jockstrap combined with a full seat and are made of an elastic supportive material. A thong style strap, sometimes called a dance belt, has one narrow elastic strap attached to the bottom of the pouch, passing between the legs and attaching to the waistband at the middle of the back. A strapless garment, called a jock sock or sometimes a slingshot, has only an elastic waist band with an elastic pouch that holds the genitals from the front.
In Europe, from the time of the Middle Ages, undergarments available were limited to a loose fitting trouser-like piece of clothing called a braies. This article of clothing was stepped into and then laced or tied around the waist and legs at about mid-calf and provided no support to the male genitals. This allowed the scrotum unlimited movement under clothing and resulted in injury from carts, carriages with wooden planks for seats or the saddle as the body took all of the force of the motion. The suspensory, was developed around the early 1820s as a way to lift the scrotum away from the plank seat and saddle thereby preventing injury or while in a cart, carriage or horseback riding. Today the suspensory is used primarily as a medical device after genital surgery to aid in post operative healing. General Custer’s suspensory can be seen in the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument museum, near Crow Agency Montana.
Optional cups offer additional protection for contact sports and are made of hard plastic or steel, perforated for ventilation. A more flexible and comfortable soft cup is also offered for low contact sports. A flex cup variation features a hard exterior melded with a soft lining.
A similar piece of protective equipment in the sport of cricket is known as a box. In cricket, a box is usually worn by only a batsman, a wicket-keeper, and sometimes other close-up fielders. For fielders farther from the batsman, the wearing of a box would impede their movement and running (for batsmen the benefits outweigh the disadvantages).
An abdominal guard (also called "compression cup", "box", or "L Guard") is a hard usually plastic cup that is inserted in a jockstrap to protect male genitalia. Some jockstraps have a lined front pouch for this purpose. The abdominal guard is usually constructed from high density plastic with a padded edge, shaped like a hollow half-pear, and inserted into the jockstrap or jockstrap-style underwear of the batsmen and wicket-keeper. This is used to protect the genitals against impact from the ball.
Fashion jocks often incorporate soft-lined front pouches or they may be designed to bring the male genitalia forwards or upwards. The purpose of these modifications is to enhance the masculine appearance of the wearer. Wearers of fashion jocks may also wear abdominal guards for the same purpose.
With the decline in the use of jockstrap in sports, the use of the necessary abdominal guard has also declined despite the safety implications. Some see wearing a cup as a taboo topic. Typically cups are worn in the pouch of a jockstrap which may be double-lined to hold the cup, or in compression shorts or sport-specific briefs.
Cups for some combat sports (e.g. mixed martial arts, kick boxing) have a waistband and straps attached directly to the cup designed to be worn over a regular jockstrap or briefs. Some sports such as boxing use an oversized cup and jock combined into a single item which has layered foam padding that protects the groin, kidneys and abdomen.
As the wearing of jockstraps for sports has declined, wearing jockstraps as an alternative to more conventional underwear has increased. Recent years have seen many mainstream underwear manufacturers such as Calvin Klein, Emporio Armani, Diesel and others launch colourful designs of fashion jockstraps.
Cups offer protection for contact sports. They are usually made of hard plastic or steel and perforated for ventilation. A more flexible and comfortable soft cup is also offered for low-contact sports such as soccer. A flex cup variation features a hard exterior cup with a soft cup lining.
Jockstraps for females
The pelvic protector is the female equivalent of the male jockstrap. It is designed to protect the vagina from bruising, tearing, or traumatic penetration. The area protected includes the entire vulva, including the clitoris, the clitoral hood and the delicate labia minora which protrude from the vulva in some women and are therefore especially vulnerable to injury from impact and from stretching or tearing. It is also occasionally nicknamed a "jill" or "jillstrap". Women wear the garment during contact sports or activities. The garment "cups" around the genitals and is usually reinforced with rigid material.
Ronald Paramore invented the pelvic protector.
In popular culture
The following popular culture works (mostly from sports themed TV shows and movies) depicts scenes showing the use of a jockstrap in the traditional sense.
- Richard Gere is seen in his jockstrap in the drama, Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
- In the movie Porky's (1981), there are several locker room scenes with males wearing jockstraps
- Golden Globe-nominated Italian actor Franco Nero sports a jockstrap in the cop thriller movie, The Salamander (1981)
- Two baseball players get in a fight and one of their pants gets pulled down revealing a jockstrap in the movie Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
- Youngblood (1986) contains a scene where actor Rob Lowe wears a jockstrap after playing hockey
- In 1990 episode of The Simpsons called Dancin' Homer, Homer Simpson is seen wearing a jockstrap in the locker room and coach's office
- In Season 1.11 of Friends The One With Mrs. Bing (1994), Monica asks Ross and Joey "What are you guys doing here?" to which Joey replies "Uh... he's not even wearing a jockstrap!" (in reference to the game of squash they were supposed to be playing)
- Golden Globe nominated actor, Dennis Haysbert, is seen wearing his jockstrap in Major League II (1994)
- The Tom Cruise movie Jerry Maguire (1996) features a locker room scene where several players can be seen wearing a jockstrap
- British comedy Up 'n' Under (film) (1998) about a struggling rugby team has a scene where a player sits in the changing room wearing only his jockstrap
- In the movie Any Given Sunday (1999) there is a scene with actor Jamie Foxx wearing a jockstrap in the locker room. This was a very successful example of product placement by company Under Armour
- Not Another Teen Movie (2001) features a scene where a man changes into a jockstrap
- MTV movie Jackass: The Movie (2002) has a number of scenes where the cast perform pranks wearing only a jockstrap to protect their genitalia
- Seann William Scott is shown in a jockstrap when he plays a janitor-turned-tennis-coach in the movie, Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach (2009)
- The Hangover (2009) features a scene where Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner, Doug's socially inept, future brother-in-law, wears a jockstrap as daily underwear
- The pilot episode of College Sitcom Blue Mountain State (2010) features a scene where 4 college football players are hazed wearing only a jockstrap
- Channing Tatum is seen playing a gimp wearing only a Mexican wrestling mask and jockstrap in the movie This is the End (2013)
- Baseball clothing and equipment
- Compression shorts
- Dance belt
- Tinea cruris, more commonly known as "jock itch"
- Abdominal guard
- Cricket clothing and equipment
- BIKE Athletic Company
- "Bike History". Bike Athletic. Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. (archived from the original on 2007-11-24).
- Michael Davis (2007). Art of Dress Designing. Global Media. p. 107. ISBN 978-81-904575-7-6.
- "Jockey". Classic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2007-11-03.
- "Jock". Online Etymology.
- "Leather Jockstraps". Internationaljock.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "A History of the Jockstrap". Jockstrap Central. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "Jockstrap and Cup Historical Background". Web.archive.org. 2007-08-21. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "What Did The Media Say?". Femalejockstrap.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
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