Johnny Russell of the Sporting KC gave a little girl his jersey for her birthday at one of the team’s games last weekend, and the video quickly went viral. But it’s not the touching gesture that had people talking, it’s the fact that the player seems to be wearing a sports bra.
Fox4KC reports Russell is not the only professional player wearing the garment that’s causing fans to scratch their heads.
“A lot of players take off their jerseys after games, and they’ll give it to a fan, and people always ask us what it is,” Khiry Shelton, Sporting forward, said.
What looks like a sports bra is not quite a sports bra, but a vest with some impressive capabilities. Professional soccer players are wearing them to hold a performance tracker between their shoulder blades, allowing the device to offer input on a player’s metrics. Statistics include how far a player runs during a game, which can average between 10,000 and 20,000 meters.
“It’s actually a GPS sensor. It’s got an ‘accelerometer’ in there and a gyroscope. So it tells you anything and everything you want to know about the body and what its doing,” said Mateus Manoel, director of sports performance for the Kansas City soccer team.
“It’s nice to see how much you run after and how fast did you run, what your high speed was, jogging, too, like all the details, so you can compare your games,” Daniel Salloi said, who plays the forward position for the Sporting. However, he also admits he’s not a fan of the garment. “It’s really annoying. I personally hate it ’cause you’ve got to wear like a sports bra with it, and it’s not very convenient.”
The data measured might provide enough benefits to outweigh the annoyance or discomfort of wearing the tracker. Another statistic gathered by the hi-tech censors can tell coaches just how fast the players are running. Manoel says Sporting players have been tracked at 23-24 miles per hour.
“Which compared to a guy like Usain Bolt for example, who reaches 27-28 miles an hour, is pretty impressive,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, fans are still buzzing about the event that brought the suspected sports bras, and their purpose, to light. After a 9-year-old fan held a sign that said it was her birthday up for nearly 90 minutes, she was rewarded with the jersey of her favorite player. Just after scoring the final goal in the 3-0 game against Portland, Russell hopped into the stands to give one small fan a birthday present she’ll never forget.