What Is the World Cup Headband Worn By the U.S. Players?

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Alex Morgan can simply rattle off the colours of the headbands worn by her United States teammates.

She wears pink, as does Rose Lavelle. Sophia Smith likes black. Julie Ertz prefers a shade nearer to Tiffany blue. Lindsey Horan wears crimson, principally as a result of Morgan doesn’t.

“One of many first occasions I wore pink, somebody mentioned I’m attempting to repeat Alex Morgan,” Horan mentioned.

Morgan laughed. “I by no means knew that,” she mentioned.

Soccer’s favourite headband, although, isn’t a headscarf in any respect. The sheer coloured strips retaining among the world’s greatest athletes’ hair in place is definitely what is named pre-wrap — a skinny, stretchy medical gauze supposed to be wrapped round injured knees or ankles earlier than they’re taped, partially to guard the pores and skin.

And whereas each women and men way back co-opted the athletic dressing for a extra outstanding objective of their hair, Morgan and different girls’s soccer gamers have turned pre-wrap into an emblem of ladies’s sports activities — and soccer particularly — to accent their workforce kits and categorical individuality on the sphere.

“There’s a form of distinctive, virtually strategic use of pre-wrap in girls’s soccer,” mentioned Rachel Allison, a sociology professor at Mississippi State who has studied how the game has marketed itself. “Clearly, sporting the headscarf may be practical when it comes to holding your hair again whilst you’re enjoying the game, however I feel it’s turn into way over that.”

Morgan, for instance, started sporting pink pre-wrap in order that her mother and father may decide her out in a sea of ponytails on the soccer area, and later selected the colour to honor her mother-in-law, who’s a breast most cancers survivor. Morgan is now even sponsored by one of many major producers of pre-wrap, Mueller Sports activities Medication.

“These are types of particular person self expression, however they’re additionally actually vital to how we’re advertising girls’s sport,” Allison mentioned. “They turn into a part of the storytelling that we do round who these girls are, not solely as gamers, but additionally individuals in ways in which assist to hook up with the viewers.”

The pre-wrap options prominently within the branding of the gamers, together with how they’re portrayed in varied merchandise. Earlier than the event, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher shared an image of a figurine clipped to her bag that depicted Becky Sauerbrunn, the defender and former captain of the U.S. workforce who’s out of the World Cup with a foot harm, full with a pink strip throughout her brow.

Brett Mueller, the chief government of Mueller Sports activities Medication, mentioned the corporate initially started producing pre-wrap within the Seventies to be used within the N.F.L. and N.B.A., nevertheless it turned fashionable as a hair accent for girls and women after referees mentioned they couldn’t put on onerous plastic barrettes or clips due to harm dangers. Rapidly, he mentioned, his firm needed to broaden its shade choices from the unique tan, first to fashionable faculty colours after which to a brighter, wider vary — together with pink.

“It’s thrilling that these athletes — and our workforce is so good, too — are utilizing our product,” Mueller mentioned, including: “However we didn’t design it for that.”

Allison mentioned that when she performed faculty soccer at Grinnell Faculty in Iowa, the place she graduated in 2007, a few her teammates wore the gauzy headbands. Many extra individuals do now, she mentioned.

“It’s not unusual to see different individuals, particularly women or younger girls, sporting pre-wrap after they’re within the stands watching,” Allison mentioned. “It’s a method for them to represent their fandom.”

There are two camps of pre-wrap headbands: those that roll it into skinny, tubular strands that rise up barely on their heads, like Morgan and Horan, and those that unfold it flat on prime of their hair, like Smith and Ertz. The strategy issues — midfielder Rose Lavelle wears pink pre-wrap, however as a member of Crew Flat, she’s secure from comparisons to Morgan.

And whereas it’s most evident within the gamers’ hair, Morgan mentioned the workforce additionally makes use of pre-wrap for its initially supposed objective: beneath their shin guards and in addition to tape up ankles.

“Pre-wrap is all over the place,” Morgan mentioned. “You look within the bins, and it’s countless pre-wrap.”

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