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Why Do Football Players Put Black Under Their Eyes?

player wearing eye black

Why do football players put black under their eyes? Does black eye work?


There must have been many times that you saw football players and other athletes wear black under their eyes. Is it just a fashion statement? Or does it have a higher purpose?


Besides football players, many baseball players don black stickers or grease under their eyes.


It is believed that these black patches work by reducing the sun’s glare, which could hinder sight on a sunny day.


But what does science say about all of this? Is it for real? Or just another myth that we all want to believe in simply because it looks cool?


A few studies on this pressing topic for football freaks have been carried out by universities, including Yale and the University of New Hampshire.


So let’s dig into the science.


What Science Says About Eye Black

As you might expect, the researchers started with a skeptical mindset, thinking it would turn up nothing. However, as they soon found out (to the utter delight of football fans), these dark patches are not just duds. In fact, some materials used for eye black were found to be rather useful.


Old-school grease that comprises carbon, paraffin, and beeswax can actually reduce glare. Plus, it helps improve contrast – this can make the difference in discerning the ball well against a glaring bright sunny background.


However, if you like anti-glare stickers, there is bad news for you. They may look trendy and fashionable, which is perfectly fine. The only trouble is that they don’t work – too bad.


Speaking to the New York Times, the lead researcher of the Yale paper said that they weren’t expecting much from the grease. They thought that it is more akin to war paint which basically gives you a psychological edge, nothing more. However, to their consternation, they came across a few intriguing findings that will interest football fanatics.


Grease does indeed reduce glare. But not by much, mind you. Still, something is better than nothing, right? And on that big day when your home team and fellow fans have squared up with their avowed football foes, anything that can make a difference is more than welcome. So using black grease for the big match can’t hurt.


Whether it is football or baseball, catches win matches. So you have to give it your very best if you are to hold on to that fast-moving ball. You can’t be a good player in these sports if you can’t track the ball with eagle-eyed sharpness. Using black under your eyes can keep the sun’s glare slightly and, equally important, boost contrast so that you can distinguish the ball from the bright sunny background.


Of course, this wasn’t enough for the folks in lab coats. Being scientists, they took it upon themselves to determine whether or not this marginal benefit translates into a competitive advantage during the game. That is, does it help improve player performance?


Does it affect performance?

As any sports-mad football fan knows, even a small performance improvement may be enough to make a difference on the big day. Under such circumstances, everything counts, no matter how small.


Too bad these scientists are nowhere near as savvy as the average sports buff. So now they want to delve into how much of a difference it makes in terms of performance on the football field. A qualitative assessment is never enough for scientists and science geeks. They want the stats that they will further scrutinize with their trademark scientific precision and insight.


Being true to their meticulously questioning nature, scientists initially expressed misgivings that it might not make that much of a difference. But any down-to-earth sports nut knows that small differences frequently become decisive on the big day. There is a lot that the scientist tribe can learn by associating with beer-guzzling sports fanatics. It’s amazing how quickly some folks lose sight of common sense when they see each and everything through the lens of science alone.


One well-meaning but rather bemused scientist opined that tennis players don’t resort to smearing dark grease under their eyes. Yet, they play fair enough. In all likelihood, you have never seen a top-level tennis player with eye black.


Someone tell this dude that tennis players don’t have to stare sky-high straight into the sun’s relentless glare while tracking the lightning-fast ball.


Some high-performing receivers are known for their trademark eye black. They just may be on to something.


While pompous scientists continue wrangling interminably over the finer details of eye black, you can wear these cool-looking decals and eye black to look like a warrior come match day.


Black Eye Black Grease


The product works as advertised, so it is selling like hotcakes. Imagine how good you and your football buddies will look rocking some awesome eye black.


With this eye black gracing your cheekbones, you and your homies can look like bona fide football fans.


EyeBlack Blue BattlePaint Eye Black Grease


This product lives up to its name by making you look like a veritable sports warrior.


It lasts long, is easy to apply and remove, is non-toxic, and looks spanking good. In short, this eye black has all that you could ask for.


Rawlings Eye Black Stickers


Alright, as mentioned above, it may not reduce glare. But that doesn’t matter if you are an avid football fan. Stickers and decals look even better than traditional eye black. So they are a must-have for football aficionados.


Our Final Thoughts

Rocking some eye black may be well advised for football players. Even somewhat cynical, skeptical scientists are forced to concede that there might be something to it.


Even if you are on the sidelines and rooting for the home team, you can look fantastic by rocking some terrific-looking decals and eye black.