In the world of sports, each game has its unique terminology, and soccer is no exception. One term that often confuses newcomers is the word “kit.” In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of soccer uniforms, commonly referred to as “kits,” and explore their various components, the cultural significance, and the evolution of their design.
Understanding the Soccer Kit
What is a Kit?
In the context of soccer, the term “kit” refers to the complete uniform a soccer team wears, from the jersey to the shorts, down to the socks. This term is widely used in the soccer community, and it’s a word you’re likely to hear frequently if you follow the sport. However, the term “kit” is often misused in many soccer circles. The common usage of the word is equivalent to the word “jersey” in American sports. So, when a soccer fan exclaims, “That’s a sick kit!” they are usually referring to a team’s top, not necessarily the entire uniform.
Primary and Secondary Kits
In soccer, the terminology doesn’t stop at “kit.” Instead of “home” and “away” kits, soccer uses the terms “primary” and “secondary” kits. When a soccer team plays, they usually sport their primary kit unless it clashes with the opposing side while playing away.
The Role of Manufacturers
A league-wide manufacturer for jerseys is a customary practice in American sports, and Major League Soccer (MLS) is no different. Adidas is the league-wide manufacturer for MLS, meaning every kit you see will be manufactured and designed by Adidas.
The Unique Culture Surrounding Soccer Kits
Fit and Design
The evolution of soccer kits over the years is a testament to the sport’s dynamic nature and its influence on popular culture. Initially, soccer kits were purely functional, designed to differentiate teams on the pitch. However, as the sport grew in popularity, so did the attention to the aesthetics of the kits.
Today, soccer kits are a fashion statement. They are designed with an eye for style, with the aim of appealing not just to the players on the pitch, but also to the fans in the stands and at home. The designs have become flashier and more intricate, often incorporating elements of modern fashion trends.
In many cases, the designs are also deeply rooted in the club’s community. They may feature local symbols, colors, or patterns, serving as a visual representation of the team’s identity and its connection to its fans and its home city or region.
This evolution has led to soccer kits being worn in everyday life, far beyond the confines of the soccer pitch. They have become popular casual wear, influencing even non-soccer fans to wear them simply because of their fit and design.
Sponsors and Achievements
Sponsors play an integral part in soccer kit design. In the world of soccer, a team’s kit is often a canvas for advertising. Many of the iconic soccer jerseys in history are recognized not only by their manufacturer or pattern but also by their sponsor.
The sponsor’s logo or name is usually prominently displayed on the front of the jersey, making it an integral part of the overall design. This is not just a commercial arrangement; it’s a partnership that ties the entire kit design together as part of the whole package.
In addition to sponsors, soccer kits often feature symbols of the team’s achievements. These may include stars or other symbols representing league or cup victories. These elements add another layer of meaning to the kit, serving as a visual reminder of the team’s success and ambition.
The Terminology Across the Pond
The language of soccer, like the sport itself, is rich and diverse. While the term “kit” is widely used in the UK and other parts of the world, in the United States, the term “uniform” is more commonly used to describe the attire worn by soccer players.
The “top” or “shirt” is referred to as a “jersey” in American English. This difference in terminology is not just a linguistic curiosity; it reflects the different cultural contexts in which the sport is played and followed.
In the UK, where soccer is deeply ingrained in the culture, the term “kit” conveys a sense of completeness and preparation. It suggests that the players are fully equipped, not just with their physical attire, but with the skills, tactics, and mindset needed to compete.
In the United States, where sports like baseball and American football have traditionally dominated, the term “uniform” is more familiar. It emphasizes the team’s unity and identity, reflecting the importance of teamwork and collective effort in these sports.
This difference in terminology is one of the many nuances that make the language of soccer as diverse and colorful as the sport itself. It’s a reminder that soccer is not just a global game, but a global conversation, with its own unique vocabulary that reflects the cultures and communities that embrace it.
Whether you call it a kit or a jersey, at the end of the day, what matters is what it represents. A soccer kit is more than just a uniform. It is a symbol of a team, a community, and the values they uphold. It is a testament to the sport’s rich history and the legacy it continues to build. So, the next time you see a soccer player donning their kit, remember, it’s more than just a uniform. It’s a statement.