A star athlete went viral by confessing that he has been wearing the same underwear since 2017: what are the risks?

Patrick Mahomes has earned his place in the history of the National Football League (NFL) since the beginning of his career when he was named the most valuable player in his second season as a professional (2018) and when he led the Kansas City Chiefs to the victory in Super Bowl LIV (2020) and LVII (2023), in addition, he was the best player of both games, as well as of the 2022 season.

However, in the midst of all those records, medals and trophies, he will also be remembered because, in each of those moments, he was wearing the same underwear.

Recently, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback admitted that he has worn the same pair of red boxers in every game he has played in throughout his career as a professional football player. That is, he has not changed his underwear since 2017 when he started playing with the Chiefs, so he has worn that garment more than 100 times.

Patrick Mahomes, #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs.Jason Hanna/Getty Images

“First, my wife Brittany got them for me, so I like them and I have to wear them. Plus, I wore them that first season, and we had a pretty good season,” Mahomes said on ManningCast, the ESPN show with Peyton and Eli Manning , when asked about it.

“However, I only wear them on game day, so they aren’t too worn out. “They are not unpleasant, I clean them.”, explained the 28-year-old player. And then he added: “I wash them from time to time. But if we’re on a roll, I can’t wash them, you know? I have to keep it up. As long as we win, I’ll keep the superstition going.”

Mahomes is not the only athlete who follows manias and rituals in search of success. In sports there are many superstitions related to clothing.

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Tiger Woods wears red shirts on the last day of golf tournaments, Michael Jordan wore shorts from his college days under his Chicago Bulls uniform, Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, did not change or wash his underwear during a 12-game winning streak; Andre Agassi didn’t wear underwear until he won his fourth Grand Slam title and Rafael Nadal places his water bottles, and drinks them, in a certain order.

“This theme of magical thinking is quite common in sports. Many professional athletes engage in this assignment of causality to different types of lucky charms. There seems to be an association between lucky garments, or rituals, and that need that They have to generate self-confidence,” explains Angélica Larios Delgado, an academic in the Sports Psychology Program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Are there health risks to wearing the same underwear for long periods of time?

A survey from clothing retailer Tommy John asked 2,000 American men and women in 2019 about their underwear hygiene habits, and 45% of people said they had worn the same pair of underwear for two days or more. .

Although changing underwear once a day is the most general recommendation, various experts assure that, beyond odors and other social inconveniences, this unpleasant habit does not entail serious dangers to health.

“Generally speaking, it’s not going to hurt you as much as your hygiene can hurt your reputation,” Dr. Philip M. Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, told , the NBC News show.

We all have a wide range of natural microorganisms, both inside and outside the body, known as microbial flora. According to researchers, the shedding of these microorganisms is what makes clothes smell bad after being worn for a long time.

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“It is something natural, and we are all exposed to it. Of course, in the case of professional athletes this habit will surely be much more evident because they sweat intensely,” explains Larios Delgado.

Although the fact that these microbes exist in the body may seem terrifying to some people, the relationship with the organism is usually beneficial in the vast majority of cases.

“Because they are your bacteria, unless you have a break in your skin or another entryway into your body, they won’t hurt you,” says Tierno.

The UNAM academic agrees and adds that, in the case of professional athletes, it must be taken into account that they usually suffer friction, strong physical interactions such as collisions, blows, abrasions, etc. which must be examined by medical personnel.

“Athletes have a fairly strong immune system, and they are usually accustomed to these situations since they were children. In the end I don’t think anything is happening beyond a superficial skin lesion, nothing that a good antibiotic cannot improve. If the person notices any symptoms such as inflammation, suppuration or pain, you should consult your doctor immediately,” warned Larios Delgado.

Despite this, experts insist on remembering that everyone’s underwear contains traces of bacteria and fecal matter, which can cause quite unpleasant odors. And the buildup of sweat and dead skin cells, along with chafing and yeast overgrowth, can irritate the skin, causing itching, unpleasant rashes, and even fungal conditions like a staph infection or tinea cruris, commonly known as jock itch. .

“Skin cells are shed all the time at a dizzying rate. They are full of microorganisms. We all have skin and intestinal organisms that are usually not harmful to the skin or the intestine. But, if they enter the wrong place, they can cause problems,” says Professor Sally Bloomfield of the London School of Hygiene in an interview with Men’s Health.

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When can a ritual or custom be dangerous?

Despite what believers say, luck cannot be conjured. So magic balls, amulets, underwear and individual rituals do not have any special power, beyond the powerful suggestion that each person gives them.

According to experts, just like placebos, the power comes from us. “The benefits of superstition on performance occur through increased levels of self-efficacy,” explains Lysann Damisch and other scientists who have analyzed the relationship of superstitions with professional performance.

Believing that your underwear gives you good luck can increase your self-confidence and that makes you very enthusiastic and patient, it also improves your concentration and you think more clearly.

“All of this produces better performance, that strong belief is what makes you better, and that is the only magic possible. “Obviously it has nothing to do with dirty underwear.”asserts Larios Delgado.

The expert states that rituals are not usually harmful, as long as the person’s behavior is not totally irrational or dysfunctional. If, for example, you stop leaving the house, daily activities are interrupted, or emotional crises related to the object or rituals occur, then you should seek help from mental health specialists.

“At some point you will not be able to do the ritual or you will be missing the lucky charm. But your life must go on, you have to participate and you hold on to other things such as your preparation, your expertise and your skills. The moment any behavior becomes exacerbated and you are no longer functional because it interferes with your normal daily functioning, then you should seek professional help,” explains Larios Delgado.