The Theme of the Week is Sports Chafing

Every week our Theme Expert, Teddy, goes into detail on a new theme. This week’s theme is Sports Chafing.

In the midst of this unseasonably muggy autumn many poets who do vigorous exercise such as jogging or hot zumba struggle with a common Theme: Sports Chafing. What is Sports Chafing and how can we use it in our own work?

First it is important to understand that not all Sports Chafing is equal. In fact, many poets are surprised to discover that there are actually three kinds of Sports Chafing:

Jogger’s Itch, skin-on-skin raw taint syndrome Sports Chafing

Cyclist’s Bane, skin-on-fabric Sports Chafing

Hot Zumba Underarm Pit (aka person-on-person) Sports Chafing


Many joggers will suffer a sore gooch or goolies after exercising in stiflingly hot weather. This is perfectly normal for men because of all the junk that goes bouncing around down there. It is of more concern if you are a woman. Jogger’s Itch was first referenced in Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’, where that poet had paused during one of his characteristically brisk walks.


Cyclists who spend many hours vigorously pedalling in tight lycra shorts will often complain of skin-on-fabric Sports Chafing. Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma provided English literature’s most famous case.

Tommy famously wore his lycra shorts UNDER his baggy trousers.


Person-on-person Sports Chafing is known to occur principally in hot zumba classes conducted in close, indoor quarters, where bodies frequently rub and jiggle against each other. Elizabeth Barret Browning was famous for her hot zumba rashes, of which she complains in Sonnets to the Portuguese XIX:

As purply black, as erst to Pindar’s eyes
The dim purpureal tresses gloomed athwart

Whatever vigorous Sports Chafing plagues you this season, you can be sure you do not suffer alone.

Join Teddy every week as he goes stalking the internet in search of new Themes.

Photo by Ana Essentiels on Unsplash