I just watched a little pre-season football and noticed that some players are wearing wigs over their helmets. I looked it up and they are called Guardian Caps and they help absorb the shock, especially in helmet-to-helmet collisions.
With all the danger of concussions, why did they wait so long to do this? Actually, they didn’t. These things came out two decades ago, but only two players wore them, so when their playing days were over, so was the Guardian Cap, until now.
It made me think of the great free-throw shooter in Basketball, Rick Barry. He proved that you could improve your free-throw percentage, simply by tossing the ball underhanded. It worked for him, but it didn’t catch on. Wilt Chamberlain tried it and sunk the basket, but went right back to doing it the old-fashioned way. My guess is that athletes who are wearing a Guardian Cap or throwing free-throws underhanded are probably considered to be “sissies,” and players want to be macho. Basketball players who shoot free throws underhand don’t wind up sleeping with 23,000 women like Wilt claimed he did.
Sports are very slow to change things even when they are obviously positive changes, because nobody wants to look like a sissy. I remember the days when hockey goalies didn’t wear masks. Their faces were heavily scarred and they didn’t have any front teeth, but they didn’t want to look like sissies. After previously getting both cheekbones broken during a game, Jacques Plante became the first NHL Goalie to wear a mask in a season game on November 1, 1959. Fans must have thought it was left over from Halloween.
“It’s the coming thing in the game,” said Montreal coach Toe Blake. “The time will come when they’ll have an even better mask than Plante’s and it’ll be standard equipment for goalies.”
He was right. Today every hockey goalie wears a mask. For you trivia buffs, in 1974 Andy Brown of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the last NHL goalie to play without a mask.
All sports are very slow to change. I’ve been waiting 50 years for someone to start putting sneakers on horses instead of the antiquated method of nailing on metal horseshoes.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,