The Sportsuit is a form of encounter suit made specifically for athletes. The regular sportsuit offers a small degree of reflexokinetic ability, a fraction of what a full encounter suit offers, but more than enough to prevent minor and moderate injury from sports related falls, slips, or crashes. The suits were not made for athlete's protection, and no one asked for them. Rather, it was observed that athletes were already wearing spandex and similar sports clothing, and the aesthetic of the encounter suit, minus things like helmets and gauntlets, was complementary. Many people do not look good in a body suit that fits like a glove, but people in good physical condition do.
The manufacturers of military encounter suits use sports wear and apparel as a testing ground for their latest ideas and techniques. Lighter, faster, more effective, and cheaper, thats the name of the game. Also, a well branded line of sports gear can make a minor manufacturer into a household name. Companies that were making fatigues for mecha pilots, and suits for space exposure are now in the game of making shoes, suits, and sports accessories.
The standard sportsuit is a body sleeve that adds compression to the body, and has a minor reflexokinetic ability. It won't stop knives or bullets, but it will blunt punches and turn falls into inconveniences rather than injuries.
There are restricted suits, generally not allowed in regulated competition that add elements such as myomer accumulators, that can increase strength for a short time, or lite Trace On Systems for enhanced agility and dexterity. These are more often used for training, both physical and confidence.
Stripperific Attire - the material sportsuits are made out of can be rendered in any color, and there are many livery patterns used, each corporation of sponsor will have their own colors and patterns, and stripper level results can be achieved through either using flesh tone segments, or having segments that are translucent. It is no uncommon for a woman in a sportsuit to look more like she is ready to compete in a 500 meter lingerie dash, with her suit mimicking the appearance of thigh high leggings and an aerobics unitard, displaying hips and thighs, and barely covering the pubic mound. This has also made sportsuits popular in the Supers and Meta genres of action entertainment because even the most outlandish outfits from vintage comics can be replicated with a sportsuit.
Engineering and Development
Sportsuits were easily created, as they were reverse designed from military encounter suits. The technology was already proven, and most sportsuits are light encounter suits with all the greeblie bits removed.
The most common problem with sportsuits is the amount and level of counterfeiting that occurs. The basic suits are pricy investments, so there is always an interest in cutting corners and avoiding licensing fees. This is not much different from counterfeit shoes and purses, with shadow suppliers making illegal merchandise and distributing it. The dangers of counterfeit suits include suits that the reflexokinetic material isn't made properly and can cause severe bruising, blood clots, and nerve damage by compressing incorrectly, or the material's spring rate being wrong, going rigid well after a hit, or randomly hardening for no reason. The materials used can be suspect and bad materials can be as mild as a suit that falls apart, to one that bleeds dye into the skin of the wearer, or causes severe illness and death from using toxic chemicals in its creation.
This is relatively minor, and most counterfeit suits are safe to use. Most anti-counterfeiting efforts are made because most fakes are as good as the official merch of big name brands, and in some instances, superior. Companies that carried brands into sports wear tend to have issues with their own quality, the Guccis and LVs, as opposed to manufacturers who were already making reflexokinetic garments, who were already making good and needed to build a brand.
There are either hundreds of variants or there are none, the difference is superficial. The branding and advertising people would claim that each specific sport or athletic discipline needs its own specific type of sportsuit. The truth is there are no real variants, its all the same material, some are a bit thicker, or water resistant, but hyperspandex is hyperspandex.
The most visible use for Sportsuits is professional athletes.
Shadowrunners and underworld figures like sportsuits because they offer some protection and they are cheaper than encounter suits, and not regulated like body armor is in many places.
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