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.
Why are they called jock straps? by Answer Guy, ESPN The Magazine
John Cronce, corporate historian, Jockey International: … As I was saying, now you might ask why they’re called jock straps. I thought I just did. Early bicycles, called penny farthings, had a giant front wheel and a tiny back wheel. People who rode them were called “bicycle jockeys,” a term borrowed from horse racing.
Answer Guy; Whoa, déjà vu. Riders wore athletic supporters, called “bicycle jockey straps,” later shortened to jock strap. Why did riders need jock straps? I’ve never ridden a penny farthing, but I’ve always imagined that if I did, the answer would become clear. Hmmm.
Annette Thompson, The Bicycle Museum of America: I’m not a man, but my male counterparts who’ve ridden penny farthings assure me that if I were, the answer would become clear. Déjà vu all over again!
Jim Corbett, vice president of marketing and sales, Bike Athletic Company: Bike started in Boston in 1874 when C.F. Bennett, one of our founders, invented the athletic supporter. He was a bicycle jockey. Early bikes had wooden seats and no springs. Combine that with the bumpy cobblestone streets of late-19th century Boston and the need for a jock strap becomes clear. This is too weird. As athletes in other sports began to wear them, “bicycle jockey strap” was shortened to “jock strap.” Now you might ask why athletes are called “jocks.” You know, I just might …
Jim Rader, etymologist, Merriam-Webster, Inc.: It’s short for jock strap, which, like jockey, comes from the name Jock. And as with Dick or Peter, Jock is an example of a proper name that is used as a euphemism for … Then again, I might not.
Procuring jocksteaps in Australia was next to impossible in the 70s, and early 80s. If you were lucky, you’d find the occasional chemist that had one tucked away amongst all the elastic bandages & supports, and this was how I obtained my first ones while living in Melbourne, a “Futuro” (this company no longer produces jockstraps) and 2 “Bike” No,10 from the 80s, which I still have. With no internet, and none available in sex shops of the period, it was a battle to get them short of a visit to the States, so even the odd “Futuro” or “Champion” find from a chemist was treasured. Some of the larger sportingbgoods chains eventually gecame outlets for “Bike”, “Addidas”, “Puma” and “Under Armour”.
According to Jockstrap Central – a major Canadian jockstrap retailing site:
“In researching this article we found two different inventors of the jock strap, the first being Parvo Nakacheker of Finland. This gentleman, apparently an athlete from Finland, claims to have done much of the pioneer work in developing the original athletic supporter and “devoted much time to the study of pure anatomy and the special demands of such an item.” The second and seemingly most likely being the BIKE Web Company; who in 1874 invented the athletic supporter, quickly becoming known as the “BIKE Jockey Strap” due to the fact that it was designed originally to support and protect the genitals of the bicycle jockeys who rode the cobbled streets of Boston at that time, over the years it has come to be known more commonly as the jockstrap. Laying claim to the first hard cup supporter is Canadian company Guelph Elastic Hosiery from Guelph, Ontario. Although founded by Joe Cartledge, it was one of his two sons, Jack who being a “jock” developed the hard cup supporter and filed a patent for it in 1927. Interestingly, one versions of the jockstrap, sold in 1900 was the Heidelberg Electric Belt, a sort of low-voltage jockstrap claiming to be a cure for impotence, kidney disorders, insomnia, and many other complaints….. (The mind boggles!). Athletic jockstraps traditionally come in two styles; with a 1 inch waistband (swimmer style) or 3 inch waistband. Our Safe-T-Gard line has a knit elasticized pouch; this helps to control unwanted movement and also to create a snug comfortable fit. Attached to the bottom of the pouch are two straps which pass between the legs, split across the lower buttocks then up the sides to join the waistband, helping to hold the pouch down and in place. There is also now a thong style jockstrap, similar to the athletic type, but only having one strap attached to the bottom of the pouch, this passes under the crotch, up through the centre of the buttocks attaching to the waistband at the middle of the back. Yes men, thong’s are not just for ladies anymore! (To the uninitiated, a thong does take some getting used to). Other types of jockstrap include the slingshot, this doesn’t have any straps attached to the bottom of the pouch, and relies on the testicles to hold it in place…. Not much good in cold climates (think shrinkage), or for active sports as it wouldn’t take too much activity to come uncovered. There are also suspensories, similar to the jockstrap in a lot of ways with one main exception; above the pouch that holds the testicles is a hole which you place your penis through so that it hangs free from the constriction of the pouch, just be careful to control your thoughts and um…actions when in public! This could be quite embarrassing. Fashion jockstraps come in numerous waistband widths, and the pouches made from a variety of fabrics, anything from a fishnet type weave (which does not leave a lot to the imagination…..) to slinky fabrics such as Silk, Rayon and Lycra? It’s also rumored that the Sports Bra for Women was originally conceived by an inventor who joined two Jock straps together.Returning to the basic Jockstrap (if there is such a thing!), they also come in hard and soft cup varieties, a hard cup is to add protection when playing Ball and contact sports. In most cases the hard cup is an insert that sits in a double walled pouch. BIKE has now gone on to sell over 300 million of them, and now has several rivals in the business, including Safe-T-Gard and Champion, who sell the traditional “athletic supporter,” and other Companies such as N2N Bodywear, Go Softwear, J.M. and Zakk, who produce men’s jockstraps as a fashionable and fun clothing.”
Further to their reference of a Canadian connection in the inventing of the jockstrap, we have the following article: (Originally blogged August 4, 2010)
“Okay, so this isn’t exactly fashion… but you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t interested! The jockstrap is a bit like the brassiere and sewing machine because it was not the invention of one person but rather the result of a series of innovations, patents, and improvements.
As men took up team sports in the 19th century, they adopted knitted cotton and wool jersey garments because the material allowed freer movement. However, when costumes made of these materials were worn for swimming, little was left to the imagination when bathers emerged from the sea in what was essentially a wet T-shirt. Women’s bathing costumes were voluminous and usually made of woven rather than knitted material so they did not cling like men’s bathing costumes. Men sometimes took to wearing bathing girdles underneath their jersey bathing suits. These apparently resembled artist model posing pouches and were worn to minimize bulging even though most beaches were segregated in the 19th century, with women using an adjacent beach.
More men began adopting the modesty girdles for support beneath their knitted tights and jersey sports uniforms. An American improvement in 1874 resulted in a style specifically designed to avoid chafing for bicycle riders. These were sold as ‘bicycle jockey-straps’ but by the turn of the century were simply known as ‘jock-straps’ or athletic supporters.
However, as every man knows who has ever played sports, even just once, a jockstrap might be fine for keeping things out of the way, but it does not protect anything from a puck or cleated shoe. The Guelph, Ontario company Guelph Elastic Hosiery made an improvement to the jockstrap in 1927 when a hard cup was added for protection. The jock strap was sold for years under the appropriately homophonic name ‘Protex.’ The inventor of the cup and owner of Guelph Elastic Hosiery died in 1957 and the company was sold the following year. Eventually the company ceased making anything but jockstraps and the company was renamed Protexion Products in 1987, but all manufacturing of Protex has since ceased at the Guelph Ontario manufacturing plant.”
With “Bike” being a prominent mover and shaker in the history of jockstraps, and considering the immense popularity of their jockstraps in fetish and sport cirles, it is only fair to give them a voice here: “In 1874, BIKE Athletic Company began operations as the BIKE Web Company and originated the athletic supporter. Designed to provide support for the bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston, the athletic supporter quickly became known as the “BIKE jockey strap.” Eventually the name was shortened to simply the “jock strap” and, BIKE has now sold well over 300 million of them.
BIKE’s history, and its present success, has been built on our dedication to the world of athletes through product innovation. Since creating that first jock strap in 1874, BIKE has been the product innovator behind several other key athletic products. BIKE created the AIR POWER football helmet that became the standard by which all other manufacturers designed helmets to be both lightweight and comfortable, but extremely protective. BIKE created the coaches short, now worn on sideline all throughout the world. BIKE was also the first company to introduce compression shorts using uniform compression of specific muscle groups to aid in circulation, reducing fatigue and enhancing performance. BIKE’s two latest innovations, the Aeroskin moisture transport system and the ProFlex2 cups are highlighted in our innovation section.”
The Shock Doctor archives provides the following historical article:
Although legend has it that athletes in ancient times competed nude, today’s athletes opt for the comfort and security of supportive clothing. Tracing the origins of the athletic supporter, a.k.a. “jockstrap,” according to the Research Librarian at the Fashion Institute the precursor of today’s “jock” was a rubberized cotton canvas girdle worn more for modesty purposes than for support by bathers (swimmers) at public beaches in the 1860’s. The knitted, worsted wool swimsuits (that covered from neck to knee) worn my men and boys of the era were clingy and revealing when wet and the girdle was designed to constrict, cover and flatten the offending bulge.
As public sporting events grew in popularity, athletes (largely male) now risked charges of “corrupting public morals” and ” public lewdness” and began to wear the apparel under their tights and uniforms when competing in publicly sponsored contests. In 1867 a Chicago sports team refused to take the field while wearing “modesty” girdles and forfeited the competition. A riot ensued. In a newspaper story about the event a Dr. Lamb was quoted as “having recognized a medical benefit to males by the wearing of a protective girdle.”
The jock’s journey into the world of sports continued in 1874 in response to a request by the Boston Athletic Club to design apparel that would provide comfort and support for bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston.” Traditional undergarments of the day (union suits) were uncomfortable and the rubberized girdle used by some caused chafing and blistering on the bicycle seats. Therefore there was a need for something that accommodated the movements of the sport and yet would contain and control in much the same manner as the girdle. ”
In 1897 the need was met as Charles Bennett, wizard of the sporting-goods manufacturer Sharp and Smith in Chicago designed the first jock strap. The original name was the Bike Jockey Strap, its insignia was a large bicycle wheel, and it was intended first for bicycle riders (who, at that time were called jockeys) and second for horseback riders. The athletic supporter became known as a “bike jockey strap” or “jock strap”. Eventually it became simply a “jock”.
The first consumer mass marketing of the jock strap came in the 1902 edition of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog which claimed the garment, now termed an “athletic supporter” was “medically indicated” for all males that engage in sports or strenuous activity.
Without doubt that most of today’s competitive sports would never have developed as we know them had it not been for the jock. Serving to provide uplift and comfort, prevent stress, pain, hernia and possibly permanent damage and future sterility, the jock has secured its place in sports history. Up until just recently, the design has remained essentially the same for three-quarters of a century — a knit pouch held up above by a wide elastic waistband and below from two leg straps going upward from the groin across the buttocks and connecting on the side of the waistband.
In 2004, design technology finally revolutionized the standard jock as Shock Doctor unveiled its innovative X-FIT� System featuring a wrap-around cup placement design to keep the cup comfortably and firmly in place. And while the jockstrap still has a role in sports underwear, new alternatives are becoming popular. Athletic supportwear provides precise fit, improved comfort and increased athlete mobility while keeping the genitals close to the body. Shock Doctor’s innovative line of loose-fit and compression shorts combine materials that both support and breathe, in various styles designed to meet the needs of particular sports. To eliminate chafing, Mesh fabric construction provides ventilation while anti-bacterial comfort lining wicks moisture away from the skin to the exterior garment surfaces. Additional design benefits include short panel construction, which concentrates compression around major muscle groups for maximum support and mobility.
About 250,000 American men suffer sports-related groin injuries every year. And ninety-nine per cent of those who engage in active sport wear a jock and some players, like pitcher Tom Seaver of the NY Mets use the security of two straps, plus a pair of jockey shorts, plus a plastic cup fitted inside the second jock. Yet for all its historical significance in the world of sports, the jockstrap alone cannot fully protect the genitals from impact. Rather, it serves as a holder for a plastic cup that specifically serves the purpose. Which brings us to the history of its companion — the athletic cup�.
” The Cup”
The sports world runneth over with cups: Stanley; Ryder; World; Davis; America’s; Winston. And, of course, the good old protective cup. Normally unsung (and always unseen), athletic cups are traditionally uncomfortable, typically made of hard plastic, shaped funny and can be cumbersome. Nevertheless, they have been part of the sports scene since at least the early 1900s. The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball credits catcher Claude Berry with introducing the cup to major league baseball in 1904.
As amateur and professional sports developed, the cup became the standard of protection for athletes in contact sports, or those facing hard objects hurtling in their direction at high speed. When an athlete gets “the wind knocked out of him” and lies crumpled on the field in obvious pain, the reaction from spectators more likely is a collective wince. Then, it’s no laughing matter — and one with potentially serious medical consequences.
Early hockey players were among the first athletes to embrace wearing cups — providing protection against pucks are traveling upward of 100 mph. Some goalies were even known to strap on double cups. Soccer goalies also discovered a cup would come in handy — especially when standing in a defensive wall waiting for the opponent to unload a free kick.
A century after they were originally created, the decision whether to cup or not to cup mostly comes down to personal preference.“It’s probably experientially related,” said Don Chu, Stanford’s director of athletic training and rehabilitation. “If you’ve ever been hit there, then you probably wear one. It’s not something you’re going to volunteer for again.”
Today, technology has finally reached the world of athletic cups — offering more comfort along with the age-old advantage of protection. In 2004, Shock Doctor unveiled the most innovative design yet. Featuring Multi-stage Impact Protection technology, this revolutionary cup design combines advanced materials and superior design to provide improved impact protection and comfort, along with increased athlete mobility. This new generation cup dissipates impact in four stages, with an ergonomic design mirroring the shape of the body, and multiple vents offering improved ventilation and moisture transport.
Moments In Cup (or Cupless) History
- – Former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench supposedly broke seven cups during his Hall of Fame career.
- – Philadelphia center fielder Doug Glanville was at the plate when a pitch glanced off his bat and ricocheted off the ground into his groin. Glanville, who doesn’t wear a cup, later could laugh about the pain, “Tell the kids not to try it at home.”
- – Every summer in Darryl Sutter’s hometown of Viking, Alberta, the local sports teams have a golf tournament called the Athlete’s Cup. The trophy is an actual bronzed cup.
In “Slate” eMagazine,, 22 July 2005′ Daniel Akst posed the following question – “Where Have All the Jockstraps Gone? – the decline and fall of the athletic supporter”: Illustration by Robert Neubecker.
If you’re a guy of a certain age, chances are you wouldn’t think of hitting the gym without a jockstrap. For the uninitiated, the item known more formally as an “athletic supporter”consists of an elasticized waistband and leg straps connected to a pouch that holds the testicles close to the body. You women can think of it as a sports bra for a guy’s balls.
Bike Athletic, the jock’s apparent inventor and primary distributor, claims that it has shipped 350 million supporters in the past 130 years. But in recent years, this great elasticized chain binding men across the generations has snapped. At my local gym, I’ve been horrified to see young guys lifting weights with boxer shorts peeking out from their gym pants. I called Bike to see if my observations reflected a larger truth. “Kids today are not wearing jockstraps,” answered spokesperson Jenny Shulman matter-of-factly.
The collapse of this age-old bond between fathers and sons might speak elegiac volumes, except for one thing: Jocks don’t do much. Bike claims the contraption was invented in 1874 as “support for the bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston.” The manly wisdom that has prevailed in locker rooms for more than a century is that wearing an athletic supporter protects you from getting a hernia. The doctors I spoke to told me that’s “an old athlete’s tale.”
“They kind of keep the genitalia from flopping around, is the best I could tell you,” says Dr. William O. Roberts, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Jocks offer no protection against the relatively common inguinal hernia, in which a portion of the gut descends through the canal that contains the spermatic cord. They also won’t protect you from what’s known as a “sports hernia,” a painful tearing or weakness of the muscles or tendons in the pubis area that’s also known as “athletic pubalgia.” (On the other hand, the jockstrap apparently isn’t to blame for my high school bout with jock itch. The itching starts when the warm, wet environment down there allows the fungus Trichophyton rubrum to flourish. That can happen jock or no jockBike doesn’t make any hernia claims. Its position is that athletic supporters somehow “fight fatigue” and “prevent strain.” Indeed, jockstraps do a fine job of holding your balls out of harm’s way and preventing the scrotal sac from getting all (ouch!) tangled up. But while working out in boxer shorts (or stark naked) isn’t a good idea, a decent pair of form-fitting briefs will probably do the job just as well.
The best reason to wear an athletic supporter is so you can wear a protective cup. Once again, for the uninitiated: Jockstraps come in two flavors: plain, and a kind of marsupial version that accepts a removable cup made of hard plastic. A well-placed blow in this region is not only agonizing; it can destroy a testicle.
While most boys and men can get by without athletic supporters, a lot more ought to wear cups. Kids these days have helmets for practically everything—I wouldn’t be surprised to see my sons wearing them for violin practice. But surprisingly few wear cups for sports, as I make my sons do for Little League and roller hockey. (Note to parents: The narrower ones are less irksome.) They consider cups annoying, and apparently other fellows do, too, which would explain why many eschew them even in situations that would seem to call for Kevlar.
I had heard that NFL players don’t wear cups but was still astonished when Joe Skiba, assistant equipment manager of the New York Giants, provided confirmation. “The majority of players feel that less is more, especially padding below the torso,” he explained via e-mail. “They feel that it hinders their speed and performance.”
Skiba says that many football players now sport a garment called compression shorts. Young amateurs like the shorts, too, even though they cost about twice as much as jocks. According to Bike, which has diversified its athletic undergarment portfolio in these jock-unfriendly times, these stretchy shorts provide support and “steady, uniform pressure” to hold the groin, hamstring, abdomen, and quadriceps muscles in place during “the twisting, stretching and pivoting action of a game or strenuous exercise.” They’re also supposed to “fight fatigue by helping prevent vascular pooling.”
When I ran this by Dr. Roberts, he sounded skeptical. “If the short is compressing enough to prevent pooling of blood, will it not also prevent blood flow from below?” he asks. “Would this flow obstruction not lead to calf fatigue and loss of lower muscle function?”
No matter whether they really “fight fatigue,” it’s no surprise that compression shorts are eating into the jock’s market share. The shorts are both more comfortable—I always thought jocks were a pain in the butt—and a lot less embarrassing-looking.
But Bike thinks there’s snap in the old supporter yet. The company is launching a line with new fabrics and designs that they say will hit stores next year. They’re also set to debut the “Boxer Jock” and the “Brief Jock”—products with the support of a jock without the outdated appearance. After all, the Bike athletic supporter hadn’t changed in 30 years—right around the time I started wearing one. Nowadays, I just wear briefs to the gym. All the other stuff is just too much of a stretch.
The Guelph Heritage page from Canada supplies us with the following information (follow the link in “References” for an amusing video on the invention of the jockstrap): One of Guelph’s many famous inventions, the story of the “jock strap” is perhaps our most important contribution to athletic innovation. We cannot lay claim to being the first of its kind. The concept of a protection garment for men in sports was recorded in the 1870s in America, with a knitted tight designed to avoid chafing while riding a bicycle and marketed as a “bicycle jockey-strap’.
In 1927, the Guelph Elastic Hosiery made a significant improvement to the design by adding a hard cup for added protection. It was sold under the name “Protex”. A contest was held to name this new innovation and “jockstrap” became a household word.
The owner of the company died in 1957, and Guelph Elastic Hosiery was sold. Today, the company survives as Protexion Products, but no longer makes their most famous product.
The Trivia Library informs us:
“About the story behind the invention of the athletic supporter or jockstrap, history and biography of inventor Parvo Nakacheker and his invention.
INVENTION: Athletic Supporter
INVENTOR: Parvo Nakacheker, Fin.
HOW INVENTED: He was a Finnish athlete “who did much of the pioneer work in developing … the lowly athletic supporter.” To put together an athletic supporter, more commonly called a jockstrap, he “devoted much time to the study of pure anatomy and the special demands of such an item.”
Many sports require the use of an athletic cup. These include cricket, fencing, martial arts, boxing, lacrosse, hockey, baseball, paintball, football and many others. This advice is given to cyclists:
“Exercising requires the right equipment, and for serious cycling, this means more than just a helmet. A jockstrap helps support and protect your most delicate area, allowing you to concentrate on your workout without much fear of injury. A jockstrap isn’t the only supportive option, but it can be a good one for cycling, depending on your preference.
The Need for Support
Bouncing around in your nether region isn’t just uncomfortable — it can be harmful. All cycling involves some amount of bumps and vibrations that transfer through the seat, but mountain biking or riding over rough terrain is worse than sticking to a paved road. The consistent bouncing can lead to problems in your private area including tumors, cysts and infections, according to the BBC website. Strong supportive gear such as a jockstrap helps hold you in place, reducing the chance of embarrassing cycling-related health problems.
Pros and Cons
For generations, fathers have proudly taught their sons to wear jockstraps during sports and fitness activities. They’re durable, easy to clean and provide a convenient way to position a protective cup when necessary, such as when you play contact sports. But jockstraps are falling out of fashion in some areas, including cycling. While some people swear by them, others find the straps uncomfortable during long rides, citing chafing and moisture retention as problems.
Other OptionsIf you try a jockstrap when you’re cycling and don’t like it, try another support option. Most cycling shorts fit tightly, offering different levels of support. These typically offer the additional benefit of a built-in pocket for a chamois pad to help wick away moisture. For stronger support without a jockstrap, use compression shorts, which have replaced the jockstrap for many men, including some professional athletes.”
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.
On October 28, 2014 the folliwing article by DoctorGarrett appeared on spankingfit.com, titled “The Jockstrap – Still Man’s Best Friend”:
“Don’t Sell Your Jockstrap Short
Despite unproven claims that jockstrap use adversely affects male fertility, the ordinary jockstrap remains one of the best forms of protection a man can use not only for protection of his private parts, but also for preventing serious strain to his groin. It’s true that the invention of certain alternatives such as compression shorts has caused a decline in jockstrap popularity; nevertheless, most serious male athletes still wear a traditional jock, sometimes under or over Spandex compression shorts, for extra protection. I certainly do.
History of The Jockstrap:
The history of the modern jock strap is rather interesting. The Bike Athletic Company of Knoxville, Tennessee is generally credited with its development, as well as the sale of the very first one in 1874 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It’s original purpose was the protection of private parts of “bicycle jockeys” who rode over rough cobblestone roads; hence, the name “bike jock strap”. I am sure that the jock strap’s original inventors had little idea that a future alternative use for it would be found in fetish sex, but that is outside the scope of this article (see Spanking FIT’s: “Unsafe Sex Worries? Try Kink, Safest Sex of All“) The same company is credited with having invented more recently compression shorts primarily for purposes of reducing hamstring injuries and groinal strains among football players. Use of compression shorts, however, has widened considerably over a variety of sports and athletic activities. An estimated 65% of all sales for the hugely popular Champion Underwear brand are currently from sales of compression shorts. Surprisingly, no research appears to have been conducted to assess their relative benefits over those of the traditional jock strap. In fact, it appears that little research has been conducted even to assess their benefits as opposed to wearing no protection at all.
One often cited study is published in the Journal of Sports Sciences: “Evaluation of lower-body compression garment”, by Doan Brandon et. al.; V. 21 issue 8, 2003. The study is quite serious and well-planned, in my opinion. However, as with all studies, it does have a couple of weaknesses. First, its conclusion that injury may be reduced by wearing compression shorts is based on mechanical impact testing of the shorts material, as opposed to measuring the effect with and without wearing them on a human population over a period of time. Secondly, since the research was supported by a compression shorts manufacturer, an appearance of conflict of interest may exist. I, for one, do believe that compression shorts usage has great potential for prevention of both short and long term injury in athletically active individuals, male and female. Given the essential benefits over a lifetime of regular exercise , further independent research on this topic is definitely warranted, in my opinion.
Every day jockstrap value:
A final note on using a jockstrap to prevent injury during normal, every day non-athletic activity. I, like many others, have decided to put aside the automobile as much as possible in performance of routine tasks such as shopping or going to the post office. The benefits of walking in keeping us fit and controlling our weight are enormous. Nevertheless, walking and carrying items can contribute to strain. At first, I thought of trying compression shorts for extra support during such normal activities. I found them to be too hot and uncomfortable for long term use. (For men, they can be especially awkward whenever nature calls). I personally solved the problem by wearing a traditional jock over soft silk or nylon boxer shorts. That combination provides both the necessary support, ventilation required for comfort, and freedom from chafing. (Believe me, don’t try wearing a jockstrap only for prolonged periods of time. You will definitely regret it.) A word of advice to young men. Don’t be fashion fools. The practice of wearing boxer shorts under “baggies” is unhealthful and is leading to an increase in the number of hernia surgeries performed on youngsters annually.”
Uncyclopedia provides us with a comedic slant – at least…I hope that’s what it is – to the invention of the jockstrap:
Jock Strap (1860 – 1920)
owned a men’s haberdashery where, in fitting male customers for trousers, he developed an interest in designing a supporter for their genitals similar to women’s brassieres, or bras, but without the lace and frills with which the latter frequently are decorated. He experimented with handkerchiefs, and, once satisfied with the design of the article, he sewed a prototype, calling it a “penile-scrotal brassiere” and advocated its use as a means of “reducing, if not eliminating, the unsightly male bulge.”
However, the brassiere proved unpopular. Deciding that the name of his article was the cause of its rejection, he changed it from “penile-scrotal brassiere” to “athletic supporter.” Thereafter, he was able to sell his new undergarment to Sharp & Smith, a sporting goods company which, in turn, sold it to bicycle jockeys, claiming that wearing the supporter would cushion the jarring effect of riding their wheeled mounts over Boston’s cobblestone streets.
To associate the athletic supporter with bicycle riding, Sharp & Smith changed its name to Bike Web Company and, later, simply to Bike Company, becoming the world’s leading manufacturer of athletic supporters.
In honor of its inventor, the athletic supporter is also known as the jockstrap.
Ironically, Jock Strap died from tinea cruris, a phallophiliac fungus.
At the turn of the century, when electricity was still of relatively recent use, the athletic supporter was electrified, as it was believed that jolts from the garment could cure kidney disorders, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, and bedwetting. The electrified supporters were also an addition to the instruments and implements in sadomasochists’ collections.
In more recent times, teenage boys’ first acquaintance with Jock Strap’s invention often occurs when they are required to purchase the undergarment as part of their high school physical education “gym suit.” Worn with a “cup” (a hard plastic insert that fits securely over the testicles to prevent injury to them by a misplaced kick, a thrown ball, or other athletic danger), the athletic supporter was believed to prevent injury to the adolescent’s genitals and reduce male sterility.
Most boys recall their introduction to this item as having been embarrassing or even mortifying, unlike most adolescent girls’ reaction to the idea of wearing a brassiere, which ranges from gratitude to delight. However, high schools and colleges discontinued the requirement that athletic supporters be included in students’ gym suits when boys and young men exhibited a preference for compression shorts (form-fitting spandex garments that are similar to boxer briefs, but without flies). Only after Calvin Klein and Under Armor introduced new lines of athletic supporters did the undergarment regain some popularity among athletes.
Standard business attire among homosexuals in high places, the jockstrap is also the leisure suit of choice on the part of many members of the gay community, and a whole new dimension has been added to the fashion industry with the creation of fashion jockstraps. Many are available in clasic colors that are preferd by gay men such as b;ack and white, along with newer colors such as purple, pink, and lavender, with bows, lace, beads, and pleats, in silk, satin, or velvet. They come with optional hard or padded cups, and are worn as much as a “framing device” to draw attention to the buttocks as they are as a supporter for the genitals. There is a thong supporter for men who want to let it “all hang out.”
Jockstrap “Handkerchief” Codes
Some gay men employ the jockstrap as a means of making known their sexual interests to others of their kind, similar to the way in which homosexuals in previous generations used a handkerchief code to signal to one another what types of sexual activities they enjoyed. According to this code, jockstraps of the following colors indicate interests in these respective sexual activities:
- Black – heavy sadomasochism
- Grey – bondage
- White – masturbation
- Light blue – fellatio
- Dark blue – anal sex
- Charcoal – Latex fetish
- Leather – leather fetish
- Red – fisting
- Orange – anything goes or just looking
- Yellow – golden showers
- Hunter green – daddy
- Robin’s egg blue – light sadomasochism
- Medium blue – seeking a police officer
- Sandalwood – seeking a carpenter
- Olive drab or khaki – seeking a military man
- Grey flannel – suit and tie fetish
- Light pink – dildo fetish
- Goldenrod – seeking a sugar daddy
- Mauve – navel fetish
- Brown – feces fetish
- Dark pink – nipple torture
- Purple – piercing
- Lavender – drag queen
- Gold – threesomes
- Apricot – chubby chaser
- Beige – analingus
- Red or black stripe – bears
- Camouflage – seeking a rugged outdoorsman
- Maroon -cutting
- Fuchsia – spanking.
Boys find that, when attached to sturdy rubber bands, condoms, or elastic bands, jockstraps make excellent pouches for slingshots and are an exceptionally good means of tormenting girls: by jiggling them in a girl’s face and making appropriately inappropriately lewd, crude comments, boys chase girls from classrooms or reduce them to tears. In attempting to reverse this tactic, using their brassieres in lieu of the boys’ jockstraps, girls have found that the ploy fails, as boys seem to delight in having girls’ brassieres dangled in their faces while lewd, crude comments are made concerning the brassieres’ purpose and use.
A jockstrap for women, called the janestrap, was introduced in 1996 and has proved highly unpopular in an age of unisex fashion, gender dysphoria, feminism, and sexual equality.
Onto an interesting note, Felix Sarver wrote this piece for The Herald-News on the Joliet Museum doing historical research on the jockstrap:
Joliet museum to delve into history of jockstraps
By FELIX SARVER – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan. 16, 2017
JOLIET – The history of jockstraps will see the light of day Sunday at the Joliet Area Historical Museum.
Billed as a “scholarly talk on a ‘jocular’ subject,’ ” public speaker Ellie Carlson, who is also a museum and costume curator, will give an examination of masculine protective equipment that was first designed for bicycle jockeys and has evolved over time to be protective, concealing and healthful.
“The purpose is to introduce the audience to the protective equipment that has been utilized by gentlemen … to preserve the family jewels so they are not compromised in athletic pursuits,” Carlson said.
Her talk, called “Cup Check, Please!” will take place 2 p.m. Sunday at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St. The cost is $5 for museum members and $7 for nonmembers.
Carlson has lectured on other topics, such as ladies’ underclothes – that talk is called “Speaking of Unmentionables: The Rise and Fall of Ladies Underwear” – as well as aprons and the history of Valentine’s Day.
She also does costumed interpretations and has researched cooking techniques, period ingredients and recipes for several eras, according to her website.
While jockstraps may be an unusual subject, Carlson said they have a regional connection. The jockstrap was invented in Chicago in 1874.
“It has a Chicago connection and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to expand my repertoire,” she said.
Her interest in the subject came about through managing a vintage baseball team called the Chicago Salmon, which plays by the rules of 1858 baseball. She noticed there wasn’t masculine protective equipment used in the time period.
Carlson said Sunday’s talk will be a clean, family event. She stressed there will be no modeling of jockstraps by anyone during the presentation.
Coaches are invited to come, as they’ll learn useful information.
“Knowing the background of anything is always important. Knowledge is power,” she said.
The Death of a Jockstrap Icon?
On Novemger 20, 2016 UNBTim wrote the following article for Underwear News Briefs regarding the demise of the Bike company, titled “Bike Jockstrap – Lost its Support”:
“I never like these kinds of posts. Where we have to bid farewell to icons in the men’s underwear world. We had to say goodbye to UnderGear and now Bike Jockstraps. Bike has been synonymous with jocks since they were released. Up until the 80’s they were the jockstrap. Anytime you needed a jock for sports, Bike was the brand you bought. It was my first jock that I ever wore and bought.
Brief History of Bike Jocks
- In 1874 Bike created jocks for Boston bicyclists
- They have sold over 300 Million jocks
- Bought by 2003 in Russell Corporation
- Last acquired by Fruit of the Loom and made the decision to end production
Source Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIKE_Athletic_Company
In the 70’s/80’s the jock took on a new life in the fetish world. Guys into leather would often wear the Bike #10 jock with their gear. This created a whole subculture in the gay world. It remained largely unchanged for most of the 80’s. The main additions were colors (Red, blue and black). You no longer had to get them in just the traditional white. Also, in this time the swimmer jock was around. It wasn’t as popular as the traditional jock, but it had its supporters! Yeah, I had to do it.
Why did the jock take off so much with guys?
First, back in the day they were cheap. I remember paying $7 for one at a major sporting good store. I would regularly pick them up when I was out and found myself in a sporting good store. Which sadly, wasn’t too often. But I made a few special trips to get the black #10 jocks.
Next, they were sexy. The design was made to give support to the wearer in sports. Nothing worse than a groin pull. This made the design more function over form. However, the form showed off everything about a guy. The pouch which was a mesh rather than a solid material followed by the open back. Is it any wonder that the fetish community took to these garments? I think not!
Lastly, they weren’t considered fetish wear. This was one pair of underwear you didn’t have to mail order or go into a “seedy store” to buy. It was at every sporting good store across the country. When you went in to buy them no one even questioned you about the purchase. It didn’t matter if you were buying for you or someone else. Only the purchaser knew the reason for buying. The clerk in the store just rang it up and you were on your way. In this time if you wanted a thong, it was a bit harder to get. They were made but not very widely distributed.
Why did the classic Bike Jock go extinct?
There are a few answers to this question. Each one sort of builds the case on why Bike has ended.
In the 80’s/90’s the sports jock market had more competition. I used to go in the sporting good store and see Bike and maybe one other brand. Then in the late 80’s you would see more and more brands. Bike then raised their prices and the other jocks filled in the lower price levels. However, in my opinion, very few of them had the quality of Bike.
Less guys are wearing jocks for sports. There was a time when it was pretty standard issue for guys in football, baseball, and other sports were issued a jock. It was often a comedy point for movies. In the 90’s we saw the rise of gear from UnderArmour and Nike. They replaced the jock for many athletes. Now they were wearing compression shorts over jocks.
Another reason for the decline is the rise of the fashion jock. In 2009, I named it the year of the jock. This is the time that jocks exploded on the underwear market. It seemed everyone came out with a jock. This included using bright colors and prints in the pouch design. Including using different colors for the waistband and leg straps. Gone also, was the nylon pouch. Jocks are made in every fabric you can think of and in every combination. Cotton, spandex, leather, neoprene and more. Adding on to this is brand reimagined the jock. One of the prime examples is the C-IN2 Grip jock. There are many more who have given their take on the jock.
Bike itself redesigned the classic jock. The #10 jock was a classic. The wide waistband was the standard. The band has thin stripes in the middle. The band paired with the label in the front. 1 inch leg straps and nylon pouch was a classic. In the 90’s they changed the jock from the #10 to a more modern look. The band was a bit smaller and had Bike written into it. It just wasn’t the same. It’s like when Coke made New Coke. But unlike that example, they never went back. This stopped me from buying them as much as I did. I just missed the classic design.
Lastly is the fetish market embraced the jock. Companies started to create jocks specifically for the “fetish” market. One of the first was Nasty Pig. The jocks they made reflected the leather/fetish community. The new designs become in fashion with the fetish community. It could tie into other items they already have in gear or would be from brands. Other brands like Cellblock 13, Slick it Up and more joined the market.
All these things were great things for the underwear market. Especially for jock lovers. It wasn’t one of these things but the combination of events that lead to this decision. It seems more like a financial decision to end the entire line. Russell doesn’t seem like the type of company to embrace the fetish side of the jock. I don’t think it was a market they wanted to be in anymore. How many of us actually bought a Bike brand jock in the last 10 years? I can’t say I did.
So long Bike, you were a pioneer and synonymous with Jockstrap. Thanks for being my first jock. You will be missed in the underwear world! But don’t fret, there are many other brands to fill the void!
In the comments section, jockstrapguy from Jocksteap Central provided the following interesting information “Good article. Thanks Tim. Would also be fitting to mention that Flarico who came on the scene 5 years later with their F110 jock (in the late 1890s) has also closed up shop. I think all your reasons for the demise are all correct but personally I think another factor is simply that it’s not worth the effort to make and sell a jockstrap for under $9. Fruit of the Loom ended taking over the Bike brand and perhaps that was their motivation (or lack thereof) for shutting it down. We (Jockstrap Central) were importing Bike from Europe when North America stopped manufacturing and because of shipping and duties had to charge $15+ and they still sold like hotcakes.”
And this from the “Men and Underwear” blog, dated June 22, 2016:
Is this the end of Bike Jockstraps?
We have been informed from the guys at Jockstraps.com that Russell Athletic, the owner since 2003 of Bike Athletic is going to stop producing underwear and sportswear under the Bike brand name. The quick note said that Russell Athletic have informed the store that the Bike brand is discontinued including, as you can imagine, their renowned jockstraps. It looks like some stores might still be able to get some stock from Germany but even this is going to stop very soon. Is this the end of Bike jockstraps? There have been shortages of stock in the past but the very recent re-release of the classic No10 was thought as a sign of a revival of Bike rather than plans to shut it down…
The photo below is from Jockstraps.com and shows the Throwback edition of the iconic No10 jock by Bike.
From the Google book “Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis”
Bike Jockstraps in Advertising
Jockstraps in History
Tim Alderman (2017)
Addendum 1 – Jockstrap Patent
The following question was posted to a Google group on 7/1/2003 by cubjovk73
“I was going through my jockstrap drawer, perusing my collection for a strap to wear under my see-through white shorts for my Step Aerobics class, and I stopp I found a Bike Jockstrap, looks like a #10, but I kinda noticed that the waistband was different than my other Bike straps. This particular jock is slightly off-white in color, and is more bone white leaning to very light creme colored. The waistband only had threecolored bands two navy, and one gray. I compared it to the others and noticed that they’ve got red and blue lines. I was lucky enough that this member of my strap collection, I got while “visiting” one of my university’s locker rooms. It’s amazing how no athletes put a lock on their locker, let alone leave a jockstrap behind. The only thing I’ve surmised is, that this variance in style can be attributed to maybe a style of jock made specifically for university athletics. The pouch is smaller than your run of the mill Bike#10.
Anyone care to shed any light on this?
‘Strap up, dude, let’s jack!”
Thom in DC gave this very informative reply on some Bike jockstrap history
I can speak from direct experience with BIKE jockstraps, which in my opinion is the archetypal jockstrap known to all us guys who have a jockstrap/athletic cup fetish. As a baby boomer I began wearing jockstraps in the early 1960’s for sports, casual wear, and for sex. In the 1950 and 60’s, BIKE no. 10 jockstraps had the Bike wheel logo on the label of the jockstrap. It had good quality materials of cotton fabric with elastic. The jock was built to last. It had an off color white color.
In the 1970’s, BIKE no. 10 jockstraps still had the same composition o materials in their fabric, but BIKE in Greek lettering appeared on the label of the jockstrap. The jock was the same quality and color fabric as the jocks of the 50’s and 60’s.
Getting into the 1980’s, BIKE no. 10 jockstraps began have more polyest in their fabric. They had a looser feel about them, but still were of goo quality. Also I noticed that in the mid to late 1980’s, BIKE was manufacturing its jocks in places like Jamaica, not necessary at their head quarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. BIKE jocks had more a greyish color with three stripes (black-grey-black) on the waistband.
It was in the 1990’s that the BIKE no. 10 jockstraps began to deteriorate in quality. BIKE Athletic Co. marketed their Proline BIKE no. 10 jock with white color polyester fabric without hardly any sturdy cotton elastic combination. The jock is a very flimsy and not built to last. I don’t think it would last several launderings. Also the weave and design of the joc pouch had changed from the earlier versions. Because of this, I don’t think BIKE Proline jocks offer much firm support.
You mentioned about BIKE University jocks. They are BIKE no. 11 jock which are much better quality and manufactured in bulk for schools, colleges, universities and professional teams. They have a very sturdy polyester fabric. I believe you can get BIKE University jocks at http://www.internationaljock.com and other suppliers.
As regards to colored stripes on the waistbands of BIKE jockstraps, think that they were more a fashion statement by BIKE Athletic through its various versions of the no. 10’s. Though early this evening I had an interesting chat with a jock/cup buddy on IRC on this one topic. He sai that the colored stripes denoted waist size. I told my friend that I was not sure about this but it is a possibility especially if jocks were sold in bulk to teams. My friend hopes to ask Tom, the owner of http://www.allkink.com wha he knows about colored stripes on BIKE jockstraps.
I am not sure about your questions about BIKE athletic cups. That is als a fascinating subject. Being athletic cup fetishist that I am, I researche the origin of cups manufactured by BIKE. I am not sure if BIKE manufactured metal cups, but I remember looking in old issues of Athletic Coach in the late 1940’s. BIKE began manufacturing plastic athletic cups then. I am no sure if they had ABS plastic. The cups came with the jock without the rubber gasket. The athlete had to put the rubber gasket on the edges of the cup himself. It was in the 1950’s, that BIKE began manufacturing traditional BIKE no. 55 flat cups as we know them. They had a distinguished use for at least two generation of athletes until 1985 when BIKE Athletic bega marketing the BIKE no. 85 banana cup which is my favorite athletic cup. BIKE has made a few changes in the banana cup since then but it is still a real good cup, designated by MLB the Official Cup of Major League Baseball 🙂
Hope this all helps.
Thom. in DC who remember the BIKE Athletic slogan in the early 1990’s:
“When you are ready to play, winners wear BIKE.””
References and Interesting, Informative Links
- “Bike History”. Bike Athletic https://web.archive.org/web/20071124113927/http://www.bikeathletic.com/History.aspx
- “A History of the Jockstrap”. Jockstrap Central. http://www.jockstrapcentral.com/history.php
- “Jockstrap and Cup Historical Background”. https://web.archive.org/web/20070821141215/http://www.jockstrappedstuds.com/pages/news/jock_cup_hist.htm.
- “How to Wear A Jockstrap” 11 Steps with Pictures. http://m.wikihow.com/Wear-a-Jockstrap
- “Choose & Wear a Protective Cup for Sports” http://m.wikihow.com/Choose-and-Wear-a-Protective-Cup-for-Sports
- “How to Put On An Athletic Cup” http://m.wikihow.com/Put-on-an-Athletic-Cup
- Canadian Fashion Connection: The Jockstrap – A Canadian Invention? https://kickshawproductions.com/blog/?p=453
- Slate: Where Have All the Jockstraps Gone? http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2005/07/where_have_all_the_jockstraps_gone.htmlu
- “You really don’t need to wear a “Langot” or “Jockstrap” while weight training. Here’s why!” http://www.mensxp.com/health/body-building/34535-you-don-t-really-need-to-wear-a-langot-or-jockstrap-while-weight-training-here-s-why.html
- The Guelph Heritage site http://www.guelphheritage.ca/stories/the-invention-of-the-jock-strap
- Trivua Library https://www.trivia-library.com/a/history-and-story-behind-inventions-athletic-supporter-or-jockstrap.htm
- YouTube – Men Wear Jockstraps for a Day https://youtu.be/_GNWseJFj5Q
- Jock Strap http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Jock_Strap
- The Herald-News 16 January 2017 http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/01/16/joliet-museum-to-delve-into-history-of-jockstraps/aans76m/
- Is A Jocksteap Ggod For Cycling? http://www.livestrong.com/article/426307-is-a-jockstrap-good-for-cycling/
- Underwear News Briefs http://www.underwearnewsbriefs.com/2016/11/bike-jockstraps-lost-its-support/
- Photos of packaging & styles for vintage Bike jockstraps http://www.bikejockstrap.com/vintage-bike-jockstraps.aspx
- The Male Boulder Holder – The Jockstrap and All Its Hang-Ups https://prezi.com/m/cyxfjx3vtq9e/copy-of-the-male-boulder-holder-jock-strap-controversy/
- “Jocksteap” Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing http://www.gutenberg.us/articles/Jockstrap
- “The Jockstrap-Still Man’s Best Friend” http://www.spankingfit.com/the-jockstrap-mans-best-friend/
- hometapp.com “Our 7 Favourite Jockstraps – For Guys With Sexy Style https://hornetapp.com/stories/favorite-jockstrap-brands-style-sexy/
- YouTube – Best jockstrap Underwear for Men by Bike Athletic https://youtu.be/49GO7hpqcPM
- Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis https://books.google.com.au/books?id=bHytBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=bike+jockstraps&source=bl&ots=9vpuQrxVnE&sig=3s74fksuMvlyqz_e9q3muDDDBMI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJ5tmShI7WAhVmjlQKHbG9AGQ4HhDoAQg3MAI#v=onepage&q=bike%20jockstraps&f=false
- How To Buy A Jockstrap http://m.wikihow.com/Buy-a-Jockstrap