What college football player wouldn’t look forward to a brand new uniform? Having a state of the art football uniform has become just as competitive as the actual game itself! Colleges across the nation are hiring designers, artists and creatives to give them the uniquest and coolest looking uniform possible.
As a mom of a College football player, (that is my son in the pic), while I love the look of a cool uniform, my ultimate concern is my son’s protection.
Just what do these guys use to protect their bodies under all those stylish uniforms?
- Helmets and Face Masks - A helmet must be certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. This is true for any organization regardless of age. (Halloween costumes that contain a football helmet do not meet this standard.)
In college and the pros, players get to pick a helmet that works best for them. They will come in different shapes and sizes. Inside each helmet are air filled pockets that can be increased or decreased depending on the fit of the helmet on a players head. A player will try it on, shake his head, and judge accordingly how much tighter or looser the helmet needs to be. There is also a padded, plastic chin strap that snaps to the side of the helmet and fits snuggly across the chin for added fit and protection. Concussions are a major concern when it comes to football therefore helmet technology is continually advancing to improve safety and effectiveness when it comes to protecting the head during a football game.
Helmets are also equipped with a face mask. These are the rounded metal, bars that cover the face. Face masks don’t just look cool, they prevent other players from being able to reach in and poke someone’s eye out. How many bars on the face mask is determined by the player. Some quarterbacks like just one bar so they can see better while other players, who encounter more contact, have more bars protecting their face. In college and in the pros, helmets are customized by size for each individual player. The mouth guard, that players use to protect their teeth and keep them from biting their tongues, attaches to the bottom of the face mask with a strap to make it easy to get in and out of the mouth.
*Because high school age and below use standardized helmets that get reused every year, many parents are opting to order specialized helmets for better protection and customized fit for their boys.
- Pads - The obvious and most important pads are the shoulder pads that players wear to protect their shoulders, top of the arm, rotator cuff and sternum area. In addition to shoulder pads, players also wear pads on the front of their thighs, on their hips, and in the middle of their rear end to protect their tailbone. These pads fit conveniently into designated spaces sewn into the football pants. Other padding may include, but is not required, elbow pads, knee pads, rib protectors, neck rolls and in some cases, a flak jacket which is a similar to a protective jacket worn underneath the jersey.
- Shoes and Cleats - Football shoes have, what are called cleats, on the bottoms of them. This is to give them
traction when running on a grass or a turf field because they dig in to the ground. For example, shorter cleats make players less prone to injury and are worn on dry, firm surfaces (like turf) and gives the ideal traction.
Players playing on a slippery grass field might wear shoes that have a cleat that is about 1/2 inch longer than a normal size cleat. The longer cleat allows the player to dig deep in order to start and stop without slipping.
College and Pro teams provide shoes for all their players. There is a variety of types depending on weather, the field and the players position that may allow a player to have more than one pair of football shoes and they will occasionally switch shoes during a game.
High schoolers and younger can find football cleats at any sporting goods store. The key is to make sure they offer support, comfort and traction as football is often hard on the knees and ankles.
- Jersey - I saved the best for last because this is my favorite part of the uniform. As I mentioned above, teams spend millions of dollars creating jerseys that stand out, reflect their spirit and allegiance and give each player his own identity. They are large enough to cover the shoulder pads but tight enough to fit snuggly around the arms and waist to prevent the opponent from being able to grab on to it during a game.
Every jersey, from the little boys to the big men, comes with a number. The number a player wears typically reflects his position. For example, quarterbacks and kickers usually wear a number between 1 and 19………
• Running backs: 20-49
• Wide receivers: 10-19 and 80-89
• Tight ends: 10-19 and 80-89 (or 40-49 if those ranges are taken)
• Centers: 50-59 (or 60-79 if that range is taken)
• Offensive linemen: 60-79
• Defensive linemen: 60-79 and 90-99
• Linebackers: 50-59 and 90-99
• Defensive backs: 20-49
This list is not a rule but more of a traditional guideline and sometimes two players on a team will have the same number but one is on offense and the other is on defense. Numbers are 8 inches high and 4 inches wide. This is standard for high school, college and professional jerseys.
Also on the jersey is the players last name. This runs across the top of the back of the jersey, above the number, and measures 2.5 inches high.
It’s really the jersey colors and design that separate football teams. Because teams travel to other schools and cities to play, most football teams have a minimum of two jerseys. One is for games played at home and one is for the games they play away from their home field.
When a team is playing on their home field, they will typically wear their darker jerseys and when they travel to an away game they will were a white jersey. That is how you can tell where a game is being played as to what color jersey each team is wearing.
Some teams, like pro and larger college programs, have dozens of uniforms to choose from. Revenue generated from the athletic program determines whether or not new uniforms or extra uniforms will be purchased.
Fans have been buying replica jerseys of their favorite players for years. Having a jersey with a players name and number to wear to a game, or anywhere really, not only supports the team as well as the individual player, but continues to drive the tradition of America’s passion for the game of football.
And speaking of individual players……in tomorrow’s 31 Days to a Better Understanding of Football, we will take a look at the players and their positions.