The shirt in competitive ball games

The Manchester United shirt
The Manchester United shirt that sold 2,850,000 in 2016

The football strip, the rugby kit the baseball uniform are all different terminologies for a side’s apparel that they will wear in matches, and it is all headed by the shirt they will wear. This sports shirt is big business and in 2016 Manchester United sold 2,850,000 worldwide. There were in fact 6 clubs who sold over a million shirts globally, with the premier League in England selling over 5 million shirts each year. The sports shirt has been around for a long time and has evolved it time in terms of how it is made and what it is made from.

When football first appeared in the late 19th century the shirts were a lot different from the ones that are found today. The first shirts were either made of heavy cotton or wool, and were long sleeved with a collar. Hooped shirts were more popular than striped ones as they were easier and cheaper to produce. Quartered shirts were also worn by sides like Blackburn Rovers and Bristol Rovers, and were made up of 4 separate panels. Bolton Wanderers in the 1953 cup final became the first side to wear non cotton, as they adorned their shirts made up of artificial fabric.

The shirts worn today are a lightweight breathable shirts made of Polyester mesh, and are designed so that the players do not lose energy from sweating too much. Football is not the only sport where the design of the playing shirt has changed radically over time. In Rugby Union the original shirts were made up of heavy cotton and were designed to survive the rigors of a tough, physical sport in cold wintery conditions. The original long-sleeved cotton shirt would weigh between 2 and 3 kg’s and get heavier during rainfall. Games in hot conditions would result in some players losing 2 or 3 kg’s in weight. With rugby entering professionalism in 1995 this shirt was in need of a change.

rugby shirt
The modern day “rugby shirt” does not benefit all players

The modern-day shirt is made of polyester thread which makes it tight fitting and rather slippery. This can be a disadvantage in a sport where lifting and binding is required so some rubber has been added to the jerseys to help with grip. A large proportion of rugby followers tend to be rather wide in the girth and the tight fit jerseys are not a flattering purchase. To overcome this replica shirts on sale to the public that are made in a slightly different “more roomy” style.

For years the cricket top has been seen as a simple white shirt. One would assume that there could be little done to change it. Well advances in the one day game has seen colorful uniforms being introduced into competitions for both international and domestic cricket. Sides are becoming as attached to a certain color and design of shirt as football clubs are. For example, The Australians will always play their one day games in shirts with a combination of green and gold, whilst the New Zealanders will be on parade in black.

The Kiwis
The Kiwis on parade in their colors

But there has also been changes in times to the original “whites”. The term “whites” referred to the Flannel trousers with the white shirt and accompanying long and short sleeved jumpers. The shirts were traditionally made out of cotton but as time has progressed today’s shirts are now made up of breathable high tech fabrics which are essential to soak up the sweat in a summer sport. Sports shirts are big business and their value is made even greater with advertising on the front of the shirt. Manufacturers pay millions to produce shirts for certain teams and advances in shirt technology will surely follow in the coming years