Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Most hockey players and figure skaters, and many runners, do not wear socks when they compete.
You wear socks to keep our shoes from smelling and to make the shoes fit snugly. When you exercise, sweat, bacteria and old skin collect in your socks. Then you wash the socks to rid them of rotting skin and bacteria so they don't smell. If you don't wear socks, sweat, bacteria and dead skin accumulate in your shoes, where bacteria ferment skin to cause a horrible odor. You wear socks to keep shoes from smelling.
Skates should allow very little movement of feet inside to improve control of the blades. So many skaters do not wear socks because they allow feet to move more freely inside skates. Some runners refuse to wear socks, while others prefer them because they can help to prevent friction that causes blisters from rough spots in shoes rubbing against your feet.