Why do people spit on the street

Re-start of the BundesligaNo spitting For Soccer player

The Bundesliga continues this weekend. Many have been waiting eagerly for it, others are critical of the restart. There are special rules for the players: They must wear face masks on the substitutes' bench, they are not allowed to hug and: they must not spit on the lawn! But why are footballers doing that anyway?

World Cup 1990, the Dutchman Frank Rijkaard spits full pipe into Rudi Völler's locks. There was no video evidence at the time - afterwards there was a red card for both of them. Unforgotten. To this day, footballers spit on the green lawn (or somewhere else).

Medically not necessary

There is no medical or physical necessity for having to spit out during physical activity or sport, says Jan-Christoffer Lüers, senior consultant at the ENT clinic at Cologne University Hospital. This is shown by the fact that indoor athletes generally do not spit on the floor.

"We have never seen any basketball players spit on the hall floor. Although they keep mopping the hall floor."
Jan-Christoffer Lüers, ENT doctor

There is a discussion that in athletes who run a lot and therefore breathe more heavily through the mouth, the oral mucosa dries out and the saliva becomes a bit tough as a result. But this arises Not inevitably the urge to spit out the saliva immediately, the doctor said.

Mucous membranes dry out

Because: Even if we go outside the door in cold temperatures in winter or if we sleep with our mouths open at night, our mucous membranes dry out and our saliva becomes thicker. Even so, not all people spit on the street in winter. And those who get a dry throat at night may have a sip of water, but they don't necessarily spit.

The doctor recommends that you drink more or simply swallow your saliva, this helps.

Mark the area and react

The urge to spread one's own saliva on the pitch is particularly pronounced among professional footballers. Jan-Christoffer Lüers said it was "a bit natural". It should be based on a sports psychological background: With the spitting, the players want to mark out their territory and demonstrate strength.

"The footballers want to mark their territory, reduce a little fear and show the opponent: I'm ready for anything."
Jan-Christoffer Lüers, ENT doctor

That is also good to see when the players spit:

  • shortly before kick-off: they haven't run much yet, but the nervousness is high
  • shortly before the substitution, i.e. before a new player comes into play
  • in the penalty shoot-out

In contrast, players almost never spat when celebrating a goal - another indication that the whole thing has a psychological and not a physical background.