Standing wth the Sustainable Revolution

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Today, we live in a world dominated by plastic. With the average American throwing away approximately 185 pounds of plastic each year. The use of plastic products are having a profound impact on our lived environment, as our cities and roadways are littered with plastic pollution. Tragically, other species that rely on healthy ecosystems for their survival, are beginning to suffer due to our plastic consumption: none more so than our marine life.

At this very moment, traces of plastic sediment can be found floating in approximately 40% of our oceanic ecosystems. Through extensive scientific research, scientists estimate that billions of pounds of plastic pollution now float within our oceans. The impact has been staggering.

The Impact of Plastic on Wildlife:

Thousands of species across the planet have suffered the climatic consequences of our consumptive practices. Hundreds of rainforest species are displaced each day due to mass deforestation, other species face hardships due to rapidly changing temperatures, and here in Montana, species have been posed with the challenge of dealing with a steady increase in annual fire damage. Still, the greatest impact of our consumerism, falls on those that call our oceans home.

According to Ecowatch, an organization that conducts research on the implications of climate change and pollution, over one million seabirds are killed on an annual basis, due to pollution in the ocean, while an additional 100,000 marine mammals die, each year.  

The massive loss of life should not come as much of a surprise, and plastic is the ultimate culprit. Plastic products constitute 90% of trash floating on the ocean surface, and now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states that there is in excess of 46,000 pieces of floating plastic within each square mile of the sea.

Now animals, from sea-turtles to small fish, are mistaking pieces of plastic pollution for food and are suffering painful fatal digestive injuries. In recent studies, scientists found that 22% of all cetaceans, 44% of all seabird species, and every single sea turtle species have been found with traces of plastic in their stomachs. For these species, the plastic crisis is not going away unless we make drastic changes to our consumption habits, and now other species are beginning to face the implications of a consumerist society dominated by plastic: including our own.

Plastic Consumption and the Climate Crisis:

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When most people talk about plastic and the environment, the conversation starts and ends with pollution, and for good reason too; We only recover approximately 5% of all the plastic we produce, globally. But in truth, plastic consumption is a contributing factor to a much more severe environmental catastrophe: Climate Change. The vast majority of plastic products, sold both domestically and on the US market, are produced from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, like coal, natural gas, and oil, are the driving force of the global economy; but they have also become the driving force behind a rapidly changing climate. Today, the climate is changing due, in large part, to the emission of greenhouse gasses, and carbon dioxide makes up approximately 65% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The primary human caused source of carbon dioxide emission is the production of fossil fuels.

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While fossil fuels play a number of important roles in our lives: they heat many of our homes, and they power most of our vehicles. It is important to note that plastic production plays a monumental role in the furthering of fossil fuel interests. According to the EPA, plastic manufacturing uses just under 10% of the global oil supply.

The implications of Climate Change are already bringing drastic changes to our planet. 2016 marked the hottest temperature year since 1880, sea levels are rising at their fastest rates in approximately 2,000 years, and the levels of ocean acidification (caused primarily by greenhouse emissions), are at their highest point since before the Industrial Revolution.. Changing the way we think about what we consume, may be the only way to help the planet we call home.

What Do Shin Guards Have to do With It?

While sports are commonly viewed as a helpful distraction from the problems of the world, sports oftentimes contribute negatively to the problems at hand. In the case of Climate Change, the vast majority of sporting stadiums are powered by fossil fuels, and most every professional team utilizes equipment made with plastic: including shin guards.

The vast majority of shin guards are made from either plastic, fiberglass, or foam rubber.

In the case of plastic, the environmental impacts are well documented (see above), but the other resources used to make shin guards are not much better. Fiberglass is, in all actuality, just a commonly used fiber-reinforced plastic; meaning it comes with many of the same environmental complications. Additionally, fiberglass can be dangerous to those working in production, and previous health issues have prompted both the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), to conduct health studies and develop pre-emptive measures to help workers avoid life-threatening health issues.

Foam rubber is not as dangerous as fiberglass, during the production process, but once the foam has been produced it is non-recyclable. Foam rubber plays a secondary role to plastic in contributing to global pollution.

What We Believe:

At Legend Soccer Company, our team believes in developing a product that helps soccer players on the field, without negatively impacting the world around the pitch. So, when designing our Legend I Shin Guard, we knew we wanted to build a high-quality product with sustainable means of production. Thus, we elected to build our product using bamboo, a highly renewable resource with incredible durability. For more information on the sustainable aspects of bamboo, check out next week’s blog, focusing on one of the world’s most amazing plants.

As a company of soccer players, we have dedicated countless hours to the development of a product that fulfills a purpose for players, at every level. We are proud of the sleek aesthetic of the Legend I Shin Guard, as well as its durability. Still, perhaps more than anything, we are proud of the fact that we are an active part of a movement away from plastic production.

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At the end of the day, we will always love the beautiful game, we’re just more than happy to work towards helping this beautiful planet.


Sources:

https://www.ecowatch.com/22-facts-about-plastic-pollution-and-10-things-we-can-do-about-it-1881885971.html

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/climate-change-facts

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data









The History and Regulations of the Soccer Shin Guard

 
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In the history of sport, safety has not always been the highest of priorities. From Roman gladiators to the likes of Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson, an element of pain has always been at the forefront of celebrated competition. But with an evolving society has come an evolving emphasis on the safety of athletes. As American football decision makers continue to search for rule changes that can increase athletic longevity and decrease life-long health implications, other sports have also worked to implement safety measures for athletes: soccer is no exception.

These days, goalkeepers are protected like quarterbacks, video replays give referees the power to book players minutes after an initial foul, and shin guards are a prerequisite to stepping on the pitch at any competitive level. Here at Legend Soccer Company, we have worked diligently to increase comfortability and durability, in the one piece of protective equipment mandated by FIFA regulations. But, the history of the shin guard began long before any of us were born…

The Story of the Shin Guard:

Sport has long resembled a simulation of war-time; Sending our greatest athletes to go to battle, as others watch in admiration. So it is not surprising that soccer’s greatest piece of armor was designed after the real thing. The earliest shin guard was made to resemble the grieve, a piece of armor used by Greek and Roman warriors designed for the sole purpose of leg protection during battles. The earliest known records of shin guards (again, utilized during times of war), can be traced all the way back to 700 B.C. The shield has stood the test of time.

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In the nineteenth century, the shin guard transitioned from the battlefield to the playing field, as the device began to make its way into the game of cricket. While shin guards were initially utilized in cricket to gain an offensive advantage for the batsman, they would eventually become a mainstay for their protective faculties. By the late 1800’s, the shin guard was being sporadically introduced into the game of soccer (or Association Football); the game would never be the same.

The initial implementation of the shin guard, within a soccer realm, was forwarded by Sam Weller Widdowson. Widdowson, a former cricket player, made his Football name with England’s Nottingham Forest. After years of playing soccer, Widdowson began searching for a way to avoid injury in defensive challenges, and drew upon his cricket experience. When Widdowson decided to cut a pair of his cricket shin pads and strap them to outside of his socks, he could not have possibly understood the impact of his decision. After facing initial jeers from both teammates and opponents, Widdowson witnessed as other players began to design their own makeshift shin protectors.

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Today, the shin guard has become a pillar of modern soccer, and regulations at the corporate and youth level, prohibit players from competition without them.

Modern Shin Guard Regulations:

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While shin-guards are rarely closely inspected by referees at the youth level, at the high school level, shin guards are regulated by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Referees at the higher levels will regularly inspect shin guards, ensuring that the guards are an appropriate size in relation to the height of the player, while also making sure that the guards rest no more than 2 inches over the player’s ankle. It is also mandatory that all players wear their guards underneath their socks.

At the professional level, shin guards are regulated by FIFA, but have limited restrictions as far as the physical dimensions or placement of the guards. Unlike the kits that players wear (which must be from the same sponsor), players are allowed to wear any brand of shin guard they would like.

FINDING YOUR SHIELD:

When Sam Weller Widdowson invented the shin guard, he did so for the main purpose of protection. But the added protection came with other in-game benefits: as Widdowson, and others like him, began to play with more confidence on the ball, and an increased willingness to get into defensive challenges. Finding a shin guard you can trust, can make all the difference in how you approach the game. A durable shin guard makes a braver player, a comfortable shin guard makes a more technical one. As shin guards continue to be the lone mandated piece of protective equipment in modern soccer, finding your shield can be the biggest decision you can make before heading into battle.  

While cherishing the incredible timeline of the game of soccer, the game continues to move forward in global popularity, and societal relevance. This beautiful game we all love, is constantly searching for it’s newest Legend. You could be next...

 

Sources:

 

https://archive.is/20120720180544/http://www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/leisure-and-culture/sports/cricket/hucknall-cricketers/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/355229-high-school-soccer-shinguard-regulations/

https://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/51/54/30/equipmentregulations-inhalt-e_neutral.pdf

 

Designing the Perfect Shin Guard

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Writing about shin guards brings up a great deal of irony for me.  Playing the game my entire life, one thing was clear...everyone hated wearing them or didn’t care about them.  I could categorize myself as someone that hated wearing them.  They got in the way while I was playing, I didn’t think it hurt that bad when I got knock on the leg, and I was always adjusting them when I was playing.  Looking back, my efforts to avoid wearing them or replace them with cardboard, always seemed futile.  The inevitable fact remained, YOU HAVE TO WEAR THEM.  The irony continues with launching a soccer company with the flagship product being a shin guard.  

MATERIAL

So…if we were going to build a shin guard it had to be the greatest shin guard ever made.   How to do this?  Well…the first step is using a material that’s just all around better then the rest.  

  • Strong 
  • Light-weight
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Odorless
  • Ability to manipulate in multiple shapes
  • Unforgettable
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This just happened to be the same material in applications ranging from cutting boards to skyscrapers….BAMBOO.  

That’s a good start…we found the ultimate material for a shin guard.  Now…we had to create a design that we would want to wear.  This will definitely be a challenge, considering the disgust we have for the retched device.  So…the goal must be to create an unnoticeable shin guard. Meaning, you don’t have to keep adjusting them, they stay out of the way of your touch, but always provide a sufficient amount of protection.  Obviously this isn’t an easy task, but it's something that the world needed. We’re happy to put this impossible mission on our shoulders. 

THE TEARDROP SHAPE

What we noticed about every other shin guard, is their design is usually rectangular.  Looking at the structure of our legs, this made no sense. Since humans aren’t ridged squared off creatures, we thought a shin guard should mirror the shape of your leg. This is where our patented teardrop shape was born. Matching the curvature of your leg, our design has a natural and unnoticeable feel, while protecting 7 inches of shinbone in the high impact zone.  

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OPTIMAL PROTECTION

Shin guards are there to provide protection, but what’s the major goal of that protection?  Should it cover the ankle, shin, calf, knee etc? According to major studies, the primary goal of a shin guard is to protect the leg from fractures in the high impact zone.

READ MORE 

The high impact zone is positioned in the center of the ankle and knee, where the leg is susceptible to fractures in a game.  At younger age groups, protecting lower parts of the shin and ankle is more of a priority. Younger players are still learning the game and their touch/skill is still developing.  This creates a higher need to protect other parts of the leg as there're more accidental impacts.  As a player grows, so does their game.  Older players become more predictable and the need to protect those areas are outweighed by the need to allow your foot and ankle the freedom it needs to play.  As we grow up, the game becomes more skillful and that need begins to retract.  That being said, it was essential they were not only strong, but stronger than anything we’ve seen before. The theatrical video below is not just a eye catching promotion, but proof that the LEGEND 1 can take a hit.  

 

 
 

 

So the combination of all these factors has resulted in the design you see today.  This design partnered with incredible properties of bamboo has provided the soccer industry with the perfect shin guard.  


ATTACHEMENT

So how do you attach your shin guards?  We’ve seen it all and have outlined all of the problems. 

Velcro strap

Problem:

  • Uncomfortable
  • After continued use, the Velcro detaches too easily

Tape – Athletic or Electrical

Problem: 

  • You never remember to grab tape and always asking someone else for it. 
  • You have to get the tightness perfect or you lose circulation. 
  • One-time use
  • Tape loosens up during the game and guards start to fall.  

Pre-wrap

Problem: 

  • You forget to grab some and then ask someone for tape. 
  • One time use
  • It’s hard to find prewrap unless you’re freinds with your trainer

The answer?


COMPRESSION SLEEVES

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We provide our customers with two custom sleeves to ensure their shin guards don’t move while playing.   Our high quality athletic compression material not only allows for no movement during the game, but helps promote circulation, blood flow, and reduces chances of injury.  Simply put your sleeves on first, your sock over the top and slip in your shin guards. 

In addition to the benefits of securing your guards, compression sleeves aid in muscle recovery.

Wearing compression sleeves enables blood flow to circulate quicker, which helps your muscles recover from physical activity. Keeping oxygenated blood flowing to muscles is important for performance. The more oxygen the cells have, the better they will function. During exercise, the body produces lactic acid as a waste product. If this lactic acid is not removed from the muscles, it can contribute to soreness and decreased ability to perform. 

Recent studies show that with an optimal level of consistent compression, the walls of the arteries will dilate, increasing the blood flow through them. Arterial blood flow has been shown to increase up to 40% during activity and 30% during recovery. This means more oxygen and nutrients flowing through the body! On the other hand, the walls of the veins will constrict under compression, which helps to increase the velocity of blood flow through them. Increased velocity of blood flow through veins means that deoxygenated blood and lactic acid will get back to the heart quicker, which will help to increase the rate of recovery and decrease muscle soreness! Compression will also help to stabilize the muscle and decrease the amount of muscular vibration, resulting in decreased fatigue.


MANUFACTURING

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Lastly, we wanted to build a shin guard that we could stand behind…not just literally.  It was essential that we manufacture in the United States.  Nearly every shin guard/all soccer products on the market are outsourced to different countries.  Cheap labor and decreased quality standards allow for companies to squeeze the most profit out of their product. Outsourced production primarily benefits the countries where production takes place. There’s an estimated 14 million outsourced jobs, which is almost double the 7.5 million unemployed Americans. Those jobs being returned would be enough to also hire the 5.7 million who are working part-time.

Our goal is to produce quality soccer specific products produced in the place we call HOME.  We're proud to manufacture in the great state of Michigan!  With 4 years of research and development, we had to come up with a process to build shin guards that’s never been done. Our advanced engineering techniques allow us to manipulate a natural material, but still take advantage of it’s incredible characteristics. We’re able to provide a thin/minimal bamboo outer shell, but allow for and incredible strength-to-weight ratio. 

To wrap this up, we take great pride in the LEGEND 1 and hope to prove to the industry that we’re able to produce high performance and eco-friendly products right here in the USA.  

Is it the perfect shin guard?  We think so, but I think you should try them out for yourself.  Until next time...

     

    Sean Person

    Co-Founder

    Legend Soccer Co. 

     

     

    Why a bamboo shin guard?

     
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    I thought it was fitting to have our first blog post land on the day dedicated to our planet. It seems somewhat backwards to have only ONE day committed to the earth, but that’s maybe a topic for later. 

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    Our newly founded company recently released a bamboo shin guard for the soccer industry. An eco-friendly option within a product category usually dominated by plastic.  With the release of this product, a portion of our promotional strategies are targeted towards soccer tournaments in the states. We’ve discovered that once you get our shin guards into someone’s hands, something happens. It’s hard to explain, but they feel the grains of the bamboo and the smell of the freshly burnt Legend logo, and it seems that they make a connection. Even if they’re not in the market for a new pair of guards, they find themselves holding them for a while. In an industry dominated by brightly colored, synthetic, and outsourced products, we find that our customers make a deep rooted connection to something natural. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize it’s only a shin guard.  We’re not collecting mass amounts of garbage from the oceans, building electric cars, or engineering a new solar panel, but the response we see is pretty incredible.  It seems like no matter how hard the human race tries to remove ourselves from nature, we’re constantly getting reminded to re-connect.  We’ve seen our guards act as that reminder.

    At these tournaments, we get all sorts of questions about our product. There’s a lot of great inquires, but we frequently get asked Why? Why a bamboo shin guard? We have many different educated answers to this question, considering bamboo is basically the perfect natural based material for a shin guard, but a few times, I’ve simply said, “have you guys seen pictures of that giant garbage island in the ocean?”.  I get all sorts of responses, but a majority of the time, they understand. Without telling them any of the other incredible benefits of bamboo, they have an understanding of why it’s important to find a replacement for plastic.  

    For those of you that don’t know, there’s a “plastic island” floating in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas or 1.6 million square kilometers. I don’t think a majority of the population can comprehend this (including me), but I personally see it as a modern day tragedy. It’s said that 80% of that debris is made up of plastic. I could go into more detail on the Great Pacific Garbage Ocean Patch, but if you want to read more, CLICK HERE

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    Specifically for the shin guard, we’ve roughly estimated that for the past 30 years, major brands have produced over 200 million pounds of plastic shin guards throughout the world. Compared to other industries, this is a very small percentage, but this represents 200 million pounds of plastic that will take 500-1,000 years to bio degrade. Additionally, most of us know petroleum is finite…once it’s gone, it’s gone. We scavenge the earth for more of it each year, to “fuel” our planet, but the inevitable fact remains...it will end.  

    So….why a bamboo shin guard? We think it represents a change. A change in how we not only think about the shin guard, but how we think about producing our products. No matter the environmental significance of a bamboo shin guard, we find that it can represent a lot more.  We think it’s just another example of how humanity and soccer can move closer towards a sustainable future.  

    Get outside and enjoy Earth Day 2018!

     

    Sean Person

    Co-Founder

    Legend Soccer Co. 

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    Out my front door.  Whitefish, MT