Getting hit below the belt can go from a euphemism to a hospital stay for male athletes who refuse to wear a protective cup. Whether you're riding a skateboard, playing a pickup game of basketball or riding a BMX bike, no matter how young or old, you should protect the tender groin area. While the dangers of not wearing a protective cup and jockstrap in some sports may seem obvious, some players still fail to wear them.
What They Are
Protective cups and jockstraps are two separate entities, although those who wear cups also wear a jockstrap to keep the cup in place. Protective cups consist of a hard outer shell lined with padding that protects a male athlete's groin area. Jockstraps, also called athletic supporters, are similar to underwear -- at least in the front. The supporter has an open back with straps and a snug-fitting front pouch that keeps everything in place.
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Who Should Wear Them
Protective cups should be the norm for hard-hitting sports with speedy objects, such as hockey pucks. Cups are also necessary in hockey, football, baseball, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, mixed martial arts and other contact sports. Jockstraps are best for sports that involve running and jostling but not necessarily contact with a projectile or other players. They apply in basketball, inline skating and even bicycling over uneven terrain.
Who Doesn't Wear Them
Even professional athletes can be stubborn when it comes to wearing a cup, and at least two ended up in the hospital in 2010 because they eschewed the protective gear. Hockey player Sami Salo of the Vancouver Canucks took a puck in the groin while blocking a shot during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, NHL Fanhouse reports. There was no official diagnosis although there were murmurings of a ruptured testicle. Tampa Bay Rays baseball player Carl Crawford was leaning off first base when a ball bounced up and smacked him between the legs, according to the Associated Press. His hospital diagnosis was a testicular contusion.
Why Men Don't Wear Them
Despite his injury, Crawford said he has never worn a protective cup and was not planning to change his ways, AP reported. He said a cup is too restrictive. Other professional athletes also shun the cup, Slate reports. Some pro football players say the protective cup restricts their playing ability and speed. While adjusting to wearing a protective cup takes a little time, the majority of athletes are able to maintain a high level of play despite its supposed shortcomings. A serious injury to the groin, with the possibility of becoming sterile as a result, isn't worth the risk of not wearing proper protective gear like a cup and jock strap.