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Chuck Landon: They're not 'jocks' anymore

Sep. 26, 2013 @ 12:51 AM

The sobering realization carried all the sting of getting snapped on the you-know-where by a wet towel in a locker room.

We can’t use the word “jocks” to refer to athletes anymore.

Although that term has been a time-honored synonym for many, many years, it officially has out-lived its relevance.


Because modern athletes don’t wear jock straps.

So, how can we refer to them as “jocks” when they don’t wear jocks?

I’ll admit it. When it comes to figuring out a way around this terminology dilemma I’m. … well, strapped. Unlike today’s athletes.

“I’m 22 years old and I’ve never worn a jock strap,” said James Rouse, Marshall’s senior defensive tackle.

“They don’t even issue them anymore. We wear compression shorts that have the padding in them.
“Calling us jocks isn’t accurate anymore.”

There goes another perfectly good nickname down the old drain. First, gridders. Now, jocks.

“This must be ancient history,” said senior offensive tackle Garrett Scott with a laugh. “I’ve never worn one.”
Never? When is the last time he even has seen a jock strap?

“In a store,” answered Scott after a long pause. “Long, long ago. ... in a store.”

Ah, yes, back in the day. Remember the embarrassment of having to ask your mom to buy a jock strap because we had to wear them in physical education class?

“That’s probably all you guys had back then,” said Scott with a grin.

Ouch. That burns like the old “Atomic Balm” in the jock strap trick.

But those old-school pranks are gone now.

The oft-used phrase, “He got faked out of his jock,” has to be retired, too. I suppose now we’ll have to say, “He got faked out of his compression shorts.”

“You fake somebody out of their compression shorts,” said Scott with a huge grin, “you’re moving fast. ... movin’ too fast.”

Much like life.

What’s the sporting world coming to when jock straps qualify as antiques?

“That’s real old-school there,” said Marshall middle linebacker Jermaine Holmes. “That’s throw-back. I’ve never worn one.”

But, then, Holmes let the jock strap out of the bag.

“We’ve got one lineman who still wears a jock strap,” Holmes revealed. “He’s an offensive lineman. We call him ‘Big Cheese.’ He still wears one, but he’s the only one I’ve seen.”

Holmes was referring to Blake Brooks, 6-foot-1, 302-pound former walk-on from South Charleston, who is widely known for his dance moves on the sideline.

But there was one other Marshall player that donned a jock strap during preseason. Who? None other than star quarterback Rakeem Cato.

“I remember Cato had to wear one in camp because he got hit,” said wide receiver Tommy Shuler. “I was messin’ with him. He had to wear one for a whole week.”

Nobody will catch Shuler in one, however.

“Nah, nah, nah,” he said. “Last year we were playing at Southern Miss and (Aaron) Dobson and Tay (Wilson) had on jock straps. I call it a cup because I played baseball. I was the young guy in the receiving corps, so I said, ‘What have you guys got on a cup for?’ They said, ‘It makes you feel good.’

“So, long story short, they go out there and Tay’s pants come down. After that, I said I’d never wear a jock strap.”

Somewhere C.F. Bennett, who invented the jock strap 139 years ago in 1874, is turning over in his grave.

I hope he was buried in a jock.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.




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