Friday, November 1, 2013

Spat over spatting

In many of the football codes it has become commonplace for players to have their ankles strapped. Called ‘Spatting’ players do it for additional support, to restrict motion in the ankle and prevent sprains. The availablilty of different coloured tapes has made ‘spatting’ popular as a fashion statement in American college football and it has become part the players’ image. The American game is heavily sponsored by shoe companies like Nike and adidas etc., and they are concerned their product logo is now being obscured by the fashionable tapping. Colleges receive millions in rights fees, compensation for coaches and administrators as well as apparel and equipment from the companies and in return the companies want their shoe logos on constant display. Some shoe contracts restrict the number of ankles that can be spatted without penalty, while others restrict which players can be spatted. Although many of the contracts prohibit it, a player with one injured ankle might get both spatted to prevent opposing teams from targeting the injured ankle. At least one company Under Armour have prompted the problem and put their company logo on the toe of the shoe and for them spatting is less of an issue.

Papers published in the "International Journal of Exercise Science" demonstrates differing opions when it comes to the effects of spatting. However the current dispute has created issues whereby many in the game now claim the inability to protect players because spatting interferes with advertising is a breach of health and safety and may unnecessarily increase risks to young players. While athletic trainers disagree on how much spatting is needed and its effectiveness, most say ankle taping or bracing can help prevent one of the most common injuries in the sport i.e. lateral ankle sprain.

Reuter G. D.; Dahl A. R.; and Senchina, D. S. (2011) "Ankle Spatting compared to Bracing or Taping during Maximal-Effort Sprint Drills," International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 7.

Udermann B. E.; Miller K. C.; Doberstein S. T.; Reineke D. M.; Murray S. R.; and Pettitt R W. (2009) "Spatting restricts ankle motion more effectively than taping during exercise," International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 1. Available at:

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