Sports uniforms have come a long way since they first appeared. Originally, the idea was to have all the players in the same team dressed the same in order for their teammates to see them better and not mistake them for an opponent. However, very soon after they were introduced, sports uniforms started representing the team’s spirit and values, as well as striking fear into the hearts of opponents. Nowadays, they are designed to provide maximum comfort to players wearing them, while at the same time designers are trying to make them as appealing as possible, so that millions, or even billions of fans around the world would also buy the uniform of their favorite club. So, let’s take a look at how these uniforms have changed when it comes to the most popular sports around the world.
Like in many other sports, players of American football started wearing their ordinary clothes, but they tried to dress in coordinating colors. This uniting factor soon became apparent and in the 20th century, manufacturers started producing uniforms that provided better protection, primarily because this sport is played outdoors. Thick wool, cotton and leather were used to keep players warm, while at the same time giving them additional layer of armor.
The situation drastically changed when the games started being televised, in the 60’s. More creative and colorful uniforms were designed and logos were introduced, such as the famous San Diego Chargers’ lightning bolt. Other teams were famous for the color of their uniform, as was the case with the Denver Broncos and their renowned intense orange. The situation hasn’t changed much since then in a sense that more focus is being paid to the design of uniforms for the aforementioned reasons.
James Naismith probably didn’t think that the sport he invented would see more changes than any other, while constantly becoming more popular. Basketball uniforms have included almost ever imaginable item of clothing, from trousers to turtlenecks. For the first several years, the sport was played in baggy trousers and wool undershirts and it wasn’t until the early 1920’s that some officials decided to coordinate what players wore. Players started wearing mid-length shorts and jerseys made of wool, while women and kids needed to wear kneepads. Synthetic fabric was introduced two decades later, when difficult-to-launder wool uniforms were replaced by thinner polyester and nylon versions. The pants grew shorter, while the shirts became track-style jerseys. The next step in the evolution was to make basketball uniforms tighter, more form fitting and colorful. Nowadays, modern basketball jerseys are a thing of beauty and they are extremely attractive and practical.
The first soccer players, back in the Victorian age, used to wear colorful scarves to distinguish themselves. In the late 19th century, fans actually demanded that players start sporting a more uniformed look, to make it easier to follow the events on the pitch. In 1874, Samuel Widdowson made the first shin guards out of cricket pads. Although the reception was highly critical, the shin guards soon proved their value and are now an integral and inevitable part of the soccer uniform. The 20th century saw soccer uniforms catch on as symbols of national and team pride and the situation is more or less the same now. The only difference is that major clothes companies are battling over kit sponsorship deals with the most popular clubs and many clubs actually make a lot of money from selling their jerseys all over the world.
In the 19th century, baseball uniforms were based on what position a player played, rather than the team they played for. There were bowties and striped shirts used, but, luckily, that fashion craze was abandoned very soon. Around 1930, baseball uniforms started sporting numbers on the back to differentiate players and the same number was introduced to the front in the 50’s. Ten years later, names appeared on the back of jerseys, too. Today, baseball jerseys are a global phenomenon and teams often release new designs that their fans are only too happy to buy as soon as they come out.
This is, in a nutshell, a brief history of sports uniforms in the most popular sports worldwide. As you can see, they’ve really developed a lot in terms of their quality, but even more so when it comes to their utilization. They are now one of the most powerful income-generating tools for clubs and clothes manufacturers and it’s no surprise to see people wearing them in the most remote parts of the world. After all, we do live in a globalized world and the outreach of sports uniforms is making the most of it.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.