In the early 1870’s, football jerseys were nonexistent and there were no formal uniform regulations for the players. Rivals had no means of distinguishing themselves from each other and appropriate sportswear was not worn. However, by 1875, there was an increase in university football programs and the need for better distinction as well as creating school pride grew. Players then began dressing in sweaters with lace up vests over them, making it difficult to tackle the opposing team. By the 1890s, teams replaced the vests with cotton or wool sweaters, which allowed more color coordination. But unfortunately, the wool absorbed sweat and rain easily, making the clothing much heavier for the players to run in.
As time went on, the evolution of the jersey had changed. It had progressed from the vintage cotton material to polyester and nylon. These materials were great assets to the players’ uniforms because they reduced excess weight and allowed the players to be more flexible as the moved across the field.
By 1916, football jerseys were required by the NCAA to have a number on the back of the jersey. The rule then changed in 1937, requiring that all jerseys have a number on both the front and the back.
Today, new mesh and lycra materials have been added to the jersey’s progression. They offer light-weight comfort which removes heat and perspiration from the body, an important feature for the players during the games. So now not only do the players sport the jerseys but roaring fans do as well.
Though football has been considered a “man’s sport” for many years, women are now being incorporated into the game. While the stereotype has been that women wouldn’t care for the sport because of the violence, this assumption has been proven to be false. Women make up a large portion of the fan base these days and are just as excited about Sunday football as the men are. The only problem they face is the jersey. Replicated from the players’ uniforms, the jerseys are not tailored to fit a women’s body.
Fortunately, newer designs save time and money for young women because they will never again have to purchase an over-sized jersey to then cut it up. Pieces such as the Free Agent tube top jersey and Playmaker jersey truly exemplify a true niche to the market. The innovation in today’s designs incorporate fashion into sportswear, a rarity in today’s sports apparel market.