The Power of Apparel in Sports

Apparel in Sport
Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden

Sports are an emotion worldwide. We are in some way engaged with a particular sport. In the case of India, it is mainly cricket and football. The population of India either actively plays these sports or are avid followers of the international and domestic fixtures and teams. The apparel used by different teams has become something symbolic and serves a much bigger purpose rather than just comfort.

Sports fabrics are cloth materials that keep the wearer free from injuries and reduce sweat through quick absorption.

But in the 21st century, sports apparel truly has come a long way. If we look at the example of cricket, the first cricket uniforms were completely white and had pads made from vulcanized rubber. There were no helmets as well. Then in the mid-1980s, color jerseys entered the scene.

Introduction of the Colored Apparel in Cricket

By the 1992 World Cup, each team had different colored jerseys. It created a huge buzz amongst the fans of the game, who wore the jerseys of their favorite team. The cricket jersey evolved into something that united the team as well as its fans. From then on it became a symbol. The Indian cricket team always had kits of different shades of indigo, upon which the colors of the tiranga flag were adorned.

India further associated all sports jerseys with the color of sky blue. The colors worn by an athlete boost their confidence as well as reminds them of the responsibility they have towards their team. A feeling of unity and morale which is essential to winning the game emanates from the jersey. It also became essential to easily differentiate the teams. This is applicable irrespective of the sport. It would lead to better coordination and clarity in gameplay between both teams.

Fan Apparel from Football

Coming to football, it is much more fast-paced than cricket. One of the reasons for the need for apparel would be such that the teammates can recognize their own team and accordingly advance throughout the game. Famous football clubs have iconic jerseys which represent their rich culture and history, their victories, and iconic matches. It becomes even more special when the jersey has the name of an iconic player. Sometimes, just that player alone is enough for fans to follow and support that club.

Throughout history, sports always has played a supporting role in global issues. The El Classico between Spanish giants Barcelona FC and Real Madrid has become one of the greatest sports events to ever happen. Similarly, feuds between Australia and England to establish supremacy in Test cricket have resulted in the Ashes which is popular amongst the diehard fans of cricket.

Global Apparel Wars

The feuds between India and Pakistan become ten-fold when there is a cricket match between the nations. Therefore, the apparel worn by the players will represent a feeling which is of loyalty and pride. It translates into something which becomes universal in meaning.

Global brands and sponsors look for this feeling when they sponsor kits for popular domestic clubs and sporting organizations. The fans would notice these sponsors when they take a closer look at the jerseys of their beloved clubs. But there are also many incidents in sports where apparel was also used to empower and enlighten the audiences to a particular cause.

Apparel for a Cause

One of the most recent examples would be the Kerala Blasters using a custom jersey to extend their support to the fishermen who were the unsung heroes of the 2018 Kerala floods. Similarly, the Indian cricket team donned jerseys which were given names of the respective player’s mothers for the occasion of Mother’s Day.

The gesture of exchanging jerseys after a game also acts as a mark of respect, friendship, and sportsmanship amongst the players.

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