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A letterman, in U.S. activities/sports, is a high school or college student who has met a specified level of participation or performance on a varsity team.

Overview


The term comes from the practice of awarding each such participant a cloth "letter", which is usually the school's initial or initials, for placement on a "letter sweater" or "letter jacket" intended for the display of such an award. In some instances, the sweater or jacket itself may also be awarded, especially for the initial award to a given individual.

Today, in order to distinguish "lettermen" from other team participants, schools often establish a minimum level of participation in a team's events or a minimum level of performance in order for a letter to be awarded.

A common threshold in American football and basketball is participation in a set level, often half, of all quarters in a season.

In individual sports such as tennis and golf, the threshold for lettering is generally participation in one half or sometimes two-thirds of all matches contested. Frequently, other members of the team who fail to meet requirements for a letter are awarded a certificate of participation or other award considered to be of lesser value than a letter.

Some schools continue to base the awarding of letters according to performance, in team sports requiring a certain number of scores, steals, baskets or tackles, according to position and sport.

This term is not gender-specific; a qualifying participant in women's basketball or other women's sports is properly referred to as a letterman, as would be a qualifying female participant on a co-educational sports team.

An athlete who is awarded a letter (or letters in multiple sports) is said to have "lettered" when they receive their letter.

In recent years, some schools have expanded the concept of letterman beyond sports, providing letters for performance in performing arts, academics, or other school activities.

Letter jacket


A letter jacket is a baseball-styled jacket traditionally worn by high school and college students in the United States to represent school and team pride as well as to display personal awards earned in athletics, academics or activities. Letter jackets are also known as "varsity jackets" and "baseball jackets" in reference to their American origins.

The body (i.e., torso) is usually of boiled wool and the sleeves of leather with banded wrists and waistband. Letter jackets are usually produced in the school colors, with the body of the jacket in the school's primary color and sleeves in the secondary color, although sometimes, the colors of the jacket may be customized to a certain extent by the student. There could be cases where a student could change the color so much that it doesn't differentiate too much from school colors. They usually feature a banded collar for men or a hood for women.

The letter jacket derives its name from the varsity letter chenille patch on its left breast, which is almost always the first letter or initials of the high school or college the jacket came from. The letter itself can also be custom fitted to the particular sport or activity (ex. Cross Country- a symbol or sign in the middle of the letter).

The name of the owner usually appears either in chenille (matching the letter) or embroidered on the jacket itself.

Lettermen who play on a championship team often receive a large patch commemorating their championship that is worn on the back of the jacket.

Lettermen who participate in a sport in which medals are awarded often sew the medals onto their jackets to display their accomplishments.

Varsity jackets trace their origins to sweaters, first introduced by the Harvard University baseball team in 1865.[1] The letter was usually quite large and centered (if the sweater was a pullover); stripes on one sleeve designated the number of letters won, with a star indicating a team captain.

Letter jackets are almost never purchased before a student has earned a letter.

Some schools may award letter jackets to letter winners at an award ceremony, but more often, the school only provides the letter.

While it is commonly done, removing one's letter from the letter jacket upon graduation is not firmly held as protocol.

See also


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