Adidas outfits and Nike sneakers are all well and good, but you can imagine that they didn’t exist a hundred years ago. Originally athletes ran either downright naked, or with clothes that do not seem at all practical today. Outfits to update? You be the judge…
1. Runners in Ancient Greece simply didn’t have clothes.
As we know, we owe the Olympic Games to Ancient Greece, the only small difference is that, as we can see on ancient paintings and sculptures, the athletes were naked (in god mesh).
It may not seem very practical to us today, but it was a tradition for the Greeks, who, through the Olympic Games, wanted to celebrate the power of the gods. Only men could participate, and the nudity of the male body is something that the Greeks really loved (hello fix). The exposure of the athletes’ bodies was part of the show and it didn’t shock anyone.
Another explanation for this would be to be certain that the athletes who competed were indeed all men. This would be explained by the myth of Kallipáteira, known to be the only woman to have entered the enclosure of the stadium of Olympia. Indeed according to the legend, she trained her athlete son after the death of her husband. She accompanied him to his competitions, pretending to be a man. But one day, when her son won the race, she jumped for joy in the middle of the stadium, and her coat caught on the barrier, thus revealing her woman’s body. She was not punished because her whole family was made up of recognized athletes. After that, the athletes would have been forced to compete naked to avoid the intrusion of women in the stadium, not very woke all that.
2. The first ski suits were much more stylish
Already you should know that at the base skiing was really a sport for the rich (it is still the case today, but it was even more so before), so there was no skiing to speak of, because there just wasn’t enough demand. The privileged went skiing with their hunting or riding outfit made of warm wool. Then these same customers said to themselves that they really needed an outfit dedicated to this sport and ordered from their designer outfits made of skin, wool and fur, just that. Gradually the ski outfit developed at the same time as its sport, and became less and less “fashionable” to be a real sports outfit. It was finally the AAllard brand, a high-end French ready-to-wear brand, which made the first technical and waterproof ski clothing. Outfit that is always a rich thing, shouldn’t everyone be able to buy it anyway.
3. Beach volleyball (and beach handball) players had to be nearly naked
Beach volleyball or even beach handball, it’s the same fight for women and their outfits. It caused a scandal in 2021 during the European Championships, when the Norwegian beach handball team was threatened with a fine because the players wanted to be in shorts (instead of in bikinis). We know it, and it’s very sad, since women’s beach volleyball, or even beach handball, have developed and are broadcast on TV, women have been forced to play in bikinis to ensure more audience. According to the handball federation, women must: “Wear a tight-fitting sports bra with openings in the arms. The bottom must consist of a bikini which must not exceed 10 cm at the sides”. Same fight on the beach volleyball side, but it seems to be changing a bit. As can be seen in the second image, hijabs are now accepted, as well as shorts. That’s not bad.
4. The old football shirts were like little polo shirts (the class)
In the 1950s, football players had a completely different style. The jerseys either looked like huge flags catching the wind, or nice little polo shirts. Too bad this fashion is over because we liked the style of the 50s/60s.
5. The tennismen / tenniswomen had a lot more flow
A bit like skiing, you should know that tennis was originally more a leisure practice than a real sport that you can do in competition. Tennis is an adaptation of the tennis game which was taken over by the English bourgeoisie. Women and men practiced this sport in formal outfits, not at all practical for running or making the slightest movement.
It was only later, from the beginning of the 20th century, that outfits became more “sporty” with shorts, t-shirts and flat shoes.
6. Gymnasts (both male and female) have always had leotards.
The outfit of the gymnasts has not changed much. It was at the end of the 18th century that the French Jules Léotard created the leotard, a garment adapted to the movements of dancers and gymnasts. Obviously the leotard has been modernized, with more flexible synthetic materials, but the gymnasiums have kept it, whether for men or women.
7. The very first basketball players played in jeans (not very practical)
Basketball was developed to meet a need, as James Naismith, the creator of the sport, said. He saw that his American football teams couldn’t play when the weather was bad and that he also wanted to offer a sport with less impact. In short, as you can see in the photo below, the super stylish jerseys that are mega expensive today obviously did not exist back then, and people were playing with an outfit that almost looked like a street outfit . Not enough to do Michael Jordan dunks.
8. To finish the bicycle, the ancestor of the bicycle (and therefore of cycling)
Cyclists always have outfits and speed goggles that we greatly envy them (at least I envy them). But super light bikes and super tight outfits are in fact very recent, when we know that the ancestor of the bike is the bicycle, an unwieldy thing created by the Frenchman Pierre Michaux, we can imagine that the outfit wasn’t crazy either. The outfit therefore went with the machine, something not necessarily practical, which does not really seem to be a sports outfit, but which looks more like a city outfit.