A letterman jacket, also known as varsity jacket or college jacket.
The term comes from the practice of awarding college sports team participant a “letter” cloth , which is usually the school’s initial or initials.
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. In individual sports letters are often determined according to qualification for state meets or tournaments.
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.
As a decorative clothing item, the varsity letter has a huge number of variations and no set standard is made to any school on how it should look.
Chenille letters come in many different forms and shapes. Some institutions use Old English or script style, two or three letter monogram, 3D shading, chenille bordered or the traditional straight block style. Students generally receive only one actual letter, but can win the distinction multiple times. These additional designations are shown by adding embroidered sport insignias, modeled metal insert pins, or bars that are attached to the letter. Some schools may embroider non-athletic letters with their award title, such as “Academics” or “Arts”.