If you come from America, then you have most probably seen some athletes with black stripes under their eyes (aka eye black).
These athletes are usually either American football players, or baseball players.
But what about soccer players? Have you ever seen a soccer player use eye blacks during a game? That’s very unlikely, because eye black is not a thing in soccer up until now.
Soccer players do not wear eye black. Eye blacks are used by American Football players to mitigate the effects of the sun glare on their vision, however, soccer has not yet adopted the usage of these eye blacks for several reasons. Some of these reasons are cultural, and others are related to their usefulness.
So that’s your quick answer. However, before we dive into the reasons behind rarely seeing soccer players with eye black till this day, I would like to explain how eye black really works for those of you who aren’t really sure about what these things actually do.
How does eye black work?
We’re gonna get a little bit nerdy here, so If you don’t care about all this stuff, just skip a few sentences.
When the sun rays hit your skin, or any other object around you, some of the light will be absorbed by this object and some of it will be reflected.
In general, the amount of the light absorbed determines the color of the object that was hit by the light.
For example, white objects do not absorb a lot of light, this is why you see them as white (they reflect most of the color that hits them and thus you see these colors combined as white).
Black objects are the complete opposite. They absorb most of the light that comes towards them and only a small part of this light will get reflected. Which is why you see them as black (they absorb most of the light).
What does all this have to do with the black stripes used by athletes? Well, here are the details:
The point behind wearing eye black by the athletes is to limit the amount of light reflected towards the player’s eyes. That’s why they are usually black (black absorbs most of the light that hits it).
The players place black stripes around their eyes (usually under the eyes) to make sure that these stripes absorb most of the light instead of reflecting it towards the eye.
So in simple words, the point of the eye black is to make the players still see the ball well when the sun hits their face directly.
But does wearing eye black really make a significant difference?
Well, according to this study, eye black does have some effect, however, the effect might be minimal according to what many athletes say.
In other words, the black stripes under the eye might be more of a cultural thing than being something that truly has a great significance when it comes to the performance of the players.
Some say that eye black is useful as a motivational tool instead of being useful in any other way. It has been described as a “war paint” by some people.
But after all, no matter what effect the eye black has on the players, it doesn’t hurt to have them on as long as they don’t affect the players negatively in any way.
Why don’t soccer players use eye black?
There are several reasons that can be behind not needing to wear eye black in soccer. Here are some of them:
1- The ball remains on the field during most of the soccer game
Unlike in American football, where the players will have to constantly look up to catch the ball that is thrown to them, soccer players usually do not have to keep looking up all the time.
Why? Simply because the ball remains on the field during most of the soccer game’s duration.
Short and quick passes are very common in soccer. If you watch a soccer game, you’ll notice that the players will be passing the ball to each other all the time while keeping the ball as low as possible on the field.
From time to time, the players will kick the ball high in the air, but that’s not as common as keeping the ball on the ground.
What this means is that the players are not always looking up towards the sky. Instead, they will be usually keeping their eyesight on the ball and on the players around them.
This means that the sun glare might not affect them a lot during the game.
Goalkeepers might be affected by the sun glare, but they are the only players allowed to wear caps so they got themselves covered.
2- The effectiveness of eye black has not yet been proven
The effectiveness of eye black when it comes to athletic performance has not been proven yet.
After all, eye black might just be a cultural thing instead of a tool that increases the performance of the players. With that said, it doesn’t have to be used in every sport that might need it.
Once someone proves that eye black can increase the performance of an athlete, you will definitely start seeing soccer players with eye black all the time.
After all, soccer clubs will do anything in their power to increase the performance of their players on the field.
But up until now, I believe that eye black is more of a cool thing to wear rather than anything else. It does make a difference indeed, but the significance of this difference might not be enough to convince the soccer players to wear them anytime soon.
Will eye black become a thing in soccer?
After seeing the recent trend of players laying down behind the free kick wall in soccer, I believe that anything is possible at this point.
If any of the world class soccer players decide to use eye black during their games, then others might get encouraged to also give them a try. Over time, eye black might become a thing in soccer.
So you never know. But, what we definitely know is that eye black is still not a thing up until this day.