Whether you are American or European, chances are you’ve noticed that American football and baseball players often have a black-paint stripe under their eyes. You know, just like those war-like painted lines.
But have you ever wondered why do they do it? A lot of people assume that the main reason is to intimidate and provoke “fear” to the opposition, but is this the real reason though?
Let’s find out. (the article continues after the ad)
The black paint stripes that you see under a player’s eye are called “eye black” and there purpose is to reduce the glare from sunlight by absorbing the light. You see, because these games are usually played outdoors or in stadiums with high-intensity floodlights, the sun or the stadium lights may cause a reflection off their cheeks and into their eyes, that can potentially weaken a player’s ability to track the ball.
This theory was backed up by evidence when a research conducted in 2003 by Yale researchers DeBroff & Phak and published in the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, concluded that “Based on the results, eye black grease does appear to have antiglare properties”. Interestingly, “anti-glare stickers do not” as player doesn’t get the same contrast sensivity.
In 2005, a study by Benjamin R. Powers of University of New Hampshire, confirmed the original findings and also found that people with blue-eyes are helped less by eye black:
There was a marked difference in the effect of eye black on those with blue versus non-blue eyes. This may be an example of the operation of Weber’s Law of Just Noticeable Differences, or JNDs. This law states that for a change in intensity to be noticeable, the change must be proportional to the original intensity. In the case of glare arising from the cheek, its effect in reducing contrast is proportional to the existing level of ambient glare. Blue-eyed individuals, because they have less iris pigment to screen out unwanted light, have a greater level of intraocular scatter (light reflected within the eye) than non-blue-eyed people. Thus, for blue-eyed individuals, glare arising from the cheek should be less detectable than for individuals with darker irises. If glare is less detectable for the former, then eliminating or reducing it with eye black will have less of an effect than if the glare were more detectable, as is the case for non-blue-eyed people.
And now you know!
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Reason Why Tennis Players Have To Wear White At Wimbledon
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Sources: The Ability of Periorbitally Applied Antiglare Products to Improve Contrast Sensitivity in Conditions of Sunlight Exposure | Why Do Athletes Use Eye Black? | Eye Black Grease More Effective at Reducing Glare and Improving Visual Contrast than Anti-Glare Stickers, Yale Researchers Find