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Lettermans last the test of time

Emmanuel RIvas Valenzuela
The letterman has stood the test of time signifying the hard work from student-athletes.

The letterman, also known as the varsity jacket, has its roots in American college baseball. Originating from the Harvard baseball team in 1865, the idea of sewing the first letter of the school onto a uniform would soon bleed over to the Harvard football team. Although this was more of a team uniform, these origins set the trajectory for what we now know as the letterman jacket.  

Since the cardigan was gaining popularity over the pullover, the letter had to be moved to the left from the center. The popularity of this “letterman” jacket eventually spread across the country and the jacket that we know today took its form in 1930. The wool jacket with leather sleeves and chenille lettering also gained popularity through pop culture. Although celebrities may not have earned their letterman through athletic achievements, they not only helped promote it to the youth, but they kept the jacket relevant for almost a century. Some icons known to have worn letterman jackets throughout the years include James Dean, Michael Jackson and A$AP Rocky.  

Celebrities may have borrowed the style of these jackets, but outside of its timeless looks, the letterman has meaning behind it. For athletes, the letterman signifies the time and effort it takes to be an athlete. In college, being a student-athlete means the student part must come before the athlete. Because of this, athletes need to perform well both on and off the court or field.  

It is safe to say that the letterman may be one of the most easily recognizable jackets among most, if not all sports. Athletes today will earn their letter after achieving a specific accomplishment. In high school, athletes earned their letters for going to state competitions in their sport or completing a certain number of years on their high school varsity team. 

College is different since it is already at the national level. Athletes earn patches or simply have them embroidered onto their letterman to signify specific achievements in their sport.  

Earning a letterman shows everyone that you achieved something, whether it is through athletics or the performing arts.  

The letter on the jacket tells people the school in which the achievement was earned. Although the letterman transitioned from being part of sports uniforms to being a major part of everyday fashion, its main purpose has stuck. Standing the test of time and history signifying the hard work from athletes.   

Nicholas Maes is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Maes
Nicholas Maes, Sports Editor
Nicholas Maes is a sports editor at The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in history with a minor in commercial music. He plans to continue his academic career in history after earning his bachelor's degree.
Emmanuel RIvas Valenzuela
Emmanuel RIvas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Lettermans last the test of time