Professional sports is such that even a slight edge over one's opponents can make all the difference in the world. Most people become aware of this when they hear stories about athletes getting caught using banned substances. Maria Sharapova anyone?
Here's the thing though. The race to get the edge goes right down to the wire. It doesn't simply begin and end with the big-time doping scandals that dominate the headlines. In fact, it's statistically proven in English Premier League soccer that at least this season, goaltenders are having more success keeping goals out of the net when dawning black or grey jerseys in game action compared to when they are sporting yellow, orange, green or any other color for that matter.
Arsenal's Petr Cech currently wears a black jersey for all of his team's home games and he's seen just 0.77 goals scored against him per game this season. It's kind of ironic that Cech is most comfortable in black, because while playing for Chelsea back in 2008, he swore that orange was the color most distracting to opposing strikers approaching the net. Fast-forward eight years later we find the opposite trend. West Ham United keeper Adrian got totally dominated by Tottenham in a 4-1 loss back in November while dressed like a caution sign. That performance of course only looks at one game to be fair.
Perhaps black is the new orange rather than the other way around. Consider for a moment that Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois managed to put together a clean sheet in the only game he's played this year wearing black in goal. Yet in 25 games where the keeper wore other colors, Chelsea collectively gave up 38 goals. It explains why the defending champions have struggled this season. Okay, perhaps not entirely, but you get the idea.
For those wondering, of all the colors that goalkeepers have worn in the EPL this season, cyan and purple appear to be the least effective at keeping the ball out of the net. Consider that the league-wide goals against average this season sits at 1.06. While wearing cyan and purple however, keepers allow slightly more goals per game. The average is 1.08 to be exact.
Maybe that's not statistically significant, but if you think for a second that telling a goalkeeper this information wouldn't make them think twice about their wardrobe choices, you're wrong. That's particularly true for those tending the nets for Chelsea. The team has allowed a whopping 1.58 goals against per game when the goalkeeper is wearing anything other than black.
So while training hard, working on one's talent, and even going to the extent of using performance-enhancing drugs to get an edge are all things sports fans have been accustomed to witnessing throughout history, it may indeed be time to take a closer look at what athletes wear. At least where league rules allow for different wardrobe options of course. Then again, winning in the first place certainly helps because after all, that's what getting the edge is all about anyway.