Dear Athletic Support: My son’s going into the last game of his football first-ever football season. He’s only in fourth grade, but has seemed to enjoy it. Which is great because I was really worried about it at the start. I guess, if I’m being honest, I’m still worried about it. I’m a single mom so there’s just some stuff that’s hard for me to talk to him about. One of those things is proper protection, especially of his “private” parts. My son doesn’t wear a jockstrap. I tried bringing it up once, and he said none of the other boys on the team wore one either. What’s going on here? When did this change? Is it really safe for him to play football without any protection down there?
Dear Jockstrap: I’m not going to lie, this question made me chuckle. With that being said, the issue you’ve raised is a serious one.
Five years ago, when I was still coaching, this shift had already begun. Matter of fact, there weren’t even any jockstraps during my playing days in the late 90s and early 2000s.
What we did have, however, were padded “girdles.”
These strange pieces of equipment are similar to compression shorts, like the kind worn by joggers or bikers. In other words, they’re tight. Tight enough to keep everything in place down there, which is really all a jockstrap was for anyway.
The added benefit of a girdle is that all the pads (except for knee pads) are already sewn into the fabric. This is great because everything is in one place. Gone are the days of kids having to scrounge around the locker room thirty minutes before kickoff for a missing thigh pad. The girdle has it all!
Nowadays, most teams just practice in “shells.” Which means the players wear their shoulder pads, helmet, and shorts with these newfangled girdles on underneath. This is great for early in the season, when it’s extremely hot. The one downside is that the girdles don’t have any knee protection built in.
For this reason, I’ve seen some players wear volleyball kneepads to practice. Which is a far cry from wearing a jockstrap, but hey, at least your son’s manhood is secure.
Dear Athletic Support: My wife and I are huge sports fans. All our kids are athletes too. We’re constantly coaching them about what to eat and how to get the most out of their bodies, but I’m starting to feel like my wife doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Over the last few years, she’s gained a substantial amount of weight. When she tries to talk to our kids about their fitness levels and health, I can see them start to zone out. I know they’re not listening. I don’t want to come off as a jerk, but I feel like I need to talk to my wife about this. Is there any way I can have that conversation and not be in the doghouse afterwards?
— Physically Fit Father
Dear Physically Fit: Nah, man. I really don’t think you can. If you feel strongly enough about your wife’s weight to have this conversation — you’re going to spend some time in the doghouse.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author of the BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD series. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact page on elicranor.com.