Our story begins in Europe during the Middle Ages, a period of time when humans were at their absolute worst behavior. All bets were off.
Between burning women for practicing medicine and using leeches to drain blood in response to even the slightest symptom, men would often wear codpieces to accentuate the genitalia as a means of intimidating combatants during hand-to-hand combat and trade agreements. It was not designed for comfort, protection, or sport.
The only undergarment available to the common man of the time was a type of trouser popularized by germanic and celtic tribes. Made from leather or wool, the “braies” was stepped into and then laced around the waist and legs, allowing the scrotum an unlimited range of movement that provided zero protection from carts and carriages with wooden planks for seats. The suspensory was developed to lift the scrotum and prevent it from bumping and slapping against such solid surfaces. Unfortunately, this invention didn’t come around until the 1820’s, so a lot of scrotums had to suffer to get there.
In 1874, in the deepest recesses of a sporting good factory in Chicago, the first jock strap was developed, prototyped, and manufactured. Designed for bicycle messengers pedaling through Boston’s cobbled streets, the bike jockey strap soon became known simply as a jockstrap. Mass production began in 1897, and athletes quickly adopted the jockstrap for general use. Jocks for swimming and hockey emerged, along with a windproof jockstrap for winter sports. The jockstrap became so ubiquitous among athletes that the term “jock” was coined to describe them.
While jockstraps and other groin protection solutions are often required in officiated matches of cricket, boxing and other martial arts, lacrosse, baseball, fencing, paintball, baseball, football and other sports, the jockstrap has been in decline among male-bodied athletes and is now primarily used for post-operative recovery from genital surgery. One could speculate that athletes are more worried about the world collapsing in on itself by any number of chaotic ways to worry about reproduction, but it could just be the cult of hyper-masculinity now prominent among “alpha males” and their fanboys.
In more recent years, fashion jockstraps are rising in use. Designed to accentuate the male groin area, these accessories come in a variety of colors and patterns for those concerned about looking their best while on dates, at the office, or on drugs.