Mandatory athletic supporters in middle school
November 14, 2009 6:08 PM   Subscribe

When I was in middle school P.E. in the late 1980s, we were forced to undergo mandatory jock strap inspections. Was this at all common in any region of the U.S., or did I go to a rogue middle school?

It was supposedly for purposes of hygiene that Balboa Middle School, in Southern California, required P.E. students to wear a jock strap.

We were subject to spot inspections. The coach would walk down the numbered aisles and ask each student, in turn, to pull the rubber strap down his thigh to show proof of properly wearing one. I blew one of the inspections and had to spend an hour after school for it.

Has anyone at other schools ever been subjected to a policy like this, or was my school just really strange?
posted by Kirklander to Education (27 answers total)
Went to public middle school in the early '80s in SoCal. Never was required to wear a jock strap in P.E., never had any type of inspection.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 6:14 PM on November 14, 2009

23 now, so middle school was in the late 90's for me (and in South Carolina). The only inspections I ever had were the "Are you wearing your PE uniform?" inspection and the very unofficial "Did you know someone was going to pull down your pants?" inspection by the less mature other students.

Not sure how wearing a cup would help with hygiene, personal safety maybe. Besides, by the time I was there someone probably would have sued for sexual harassment if they tried that.
posted by theichibun at 6:17 PM on November 14, 2009

I went to school in Northern Virginia at roughly the same time (graduated high school in '91). Had to wear a jock strap, too, and had the same inspection, though IIRC all the boys had to do it every day. I can't remember exactly which years I had to do it, but I remember doing it.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:21 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Public middle school in GA, mid 80s. As ichibun mentioned above, there was no jockstrap requirement. There was a mandatory PE uniform, but that was about it.
posted by jquinby at 6:23 PM on November 14, 2009

Public middle school in South Florida. No jock strap requirements or inspections (creepy!), but showers were mandatory.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:31 PM on November 14, 2009

In Jr. High in the early 80s in Northern California, jockstraps were required in the sense that at the beginning of the year we got a note to parents telling them they had to buy jockstraps as part of the PE uniform. But there were never inspections or the threat of inspections. That's just creepy.
posted by birdherder at 6:39 PM on November 14, 2009

I know we had inspections when I was in middle school football (and in Tae Kwon Do), but these inspections consisted of knocking on the cup to prove you were wearing one, not a visual inspection. Oh, Western Iowa if it matters.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:47 PM on November 14, 2009

Graduated high school in 1991 in northern Colorado... I do not recall any requirement for jockstraps (optional = sure.... requirement?.. No)
posted by jmnugent at 6:49 PM on November 14, 2009

I'm 32. Had to wear a cup for contact sports. "CUP CHECK!" would be yelled followed by your friend punching you in the junk. If you didn't fall over, screaming in pain, you passed.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:51 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

Central California, in the '80s, we had 'strap inspections at the beginning of PE at the second Jr. High I went to, with the same inspection technique you had. No such inspection at my first Jr. High.
posted by lekvar at 6:59 PM on November 14, 2009

Northern CA middle school/high school '89-'96: no jock straps, no showers, just the PE uniform.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:10 PM on November 14, 2009

Junior High 91-93. Toronto, Canada. No jock straps. No jock strap checks (what would the point be? kid wants to risk getting hit in the nuts, let him risk it). The changeroom had showers but no one ever used them. We had to wear a plain white t-shirt and shorts for gym, but the choice of shorts and shirt were up to us.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:47 PM on November 14, 2009

I graduated high school in, what, 1989? I've never worn a jock strap in my life, and was never told to wear one for gym class. My father told me that he had to wear them, and he was surprised that in my modern gym classes jocks were no longer required, so there was clearly a change in the intervening years.
posted by Forktine at 7:53 PM on November 14, 2009

Wisconsin, HS class of '82, so this was about 1976. We didn't have jock strap inspections that I recall, but we did have cup inspections for things like baseball. The inspections were performed by student assistants, not the coaches. My memory is that it involved us all lining up wearing nothing but and filing past.

Oh, and people got demerits if they tried to skip the showers.

At the old city central high school, swimming was naked (possibly until the building was retired in the 1960s). I think there's been an AskMe or two about that topic, as well.
posted by dhartung at 8:10 PM on November 14, 2009

Graduated high school in 1994, never had to wear one.
posted by dfriedman at 8:25 PM on November 14, 2009

Canada. Rec league softball for girls - late 80s. They required you to wear one, but I don't know that they did more than visual checks with your clothes on. Yes, jocks for girls.
posted by acoutu at 8:33 PM on November 14, 2009

In my upstate New York public high school, late 90s, the school rules handbook informed us that for males in phys ed, it was state law that we wear protection in gym class. I can find no record of this law online (seriously, baked goods and mix CDs for the first person to find it).

I intentionally broke "state law" for 4 years, and nobody ever checked.
posted by knile at 8:35 PM on November 14, 2009

I was in middle school '95 to '97. Female, so I can't say what was going on in the boys' locker room, but as far as actual PE class went there were no jockstrap spot-checks nor was I aware of any requirements for the boys to wear them. Sports may have been a different story, but all I ever played was girls' volleyball.
posted by asciident at 8:54 PM on November 14, 2009

Just asked my husband (1989 grad of a private high school in Utah), and he said there was no requirement that they wear a strap/cup in high school. "That's stupid" were his exact words. He did, however, voluntarily wear a cup for contact sports in high school and college, because not doing so would also, in his words, be stupid.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:41 PM on November 14, 2009

Class of '89. When I played baseball in grade school, I can recall lots of cup checks and pottymouthed jock talk. Punking your friends with "I got a new bike!"* after a trip to Big 5 Sporting Goods with your mom.
*Bike brand cup
posted by porn in the woods at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2009

I went to school in the Bay area. No requirement for a jock strap, but we did have to have complete change of clothes for PE, preferably the "uniform", including underwear or jock strap. It was required to take a shower and change clothes afterward. Nobody ever "inspected," but it was considered gross to do otherwise, so the rule was pretty much followed. I did have to have a cup for baseball, which pretty much means you need a jockstrap. That also was never inspected, because it's pretty much an eventual self-correcting error to not have a cup when you should.

I'm guessing that's what the jockstrap thing is about? So people have to change for PE?
posted by ctmf at 10:12 PM on November 14, 2009

Upstate New York, late 80's.
No Jock Strap.
No required uniform.
No required shower.

My school apparently didn't give a crap.
posted by madajb at 11:08 PM on November 14, 2009

New York City, early 80s - no cup or jock required, or showers available, although there was a mandatory gym uniform.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:55 PM on November 14, 2009

Eastern PA, late 90's
Jock strap required with random spot checks
Had to purchase t-shirt and shorts for uniform
Had to pay $10 per year shower and towel fee
For two years, the showers were broken
Towels were rarely available
posted by K5 at 4:45 AM on November 15, 2009

Didn't have to have one for PE, but we had an ancient coach for Jr. High basketball who mandated them for the team. In the mid-90s.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:48 AM on November 15, 2009

I remember when my brother entered junior high school (suburban Detroit, late 1970s) he brought home a list of required equipment for PE class (athletic supporter, white cotton socks, mouth guard if you had braces, etc). I just phoned my bro and asked him if his gym teacher ever had a jock inspection (and isn't that a weird question to get out of the blue from your sister on a lazy Sunday?) and he said the teacher never questioned whether they were wearing the proper "equipment" or not.

By the way, in girls' gym when I went to school we had to undergo a foot inspection twice per year - the teacher was checking for plantar warts. Anyone else in MeFi land have a similar experience? Were plantar warts some sort of 70s hazard, like blasting caps?
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:21 AM on November 15, 2009

Jr High in Suburban MD, mid-1960s. Required to wear a jockstrap (but no cup, that was only for guys on teams) and no inspection. Sometimes certain gym teachers really got carried away with their machismo posturing, eh?
posted by Rash at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2009

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