Letterman jackets have been a symbol of athleticism for over 100 years. However, recently, more and more student athletes have opted out of the trend by not purchasing the jackets when they get their letters.
The letterman jacket was first introduced in 1865 by the Harvard University baseball team. Once a player received their letter by playing on a varsity team, they could buy the jacket or sweater and sew the letter on. This trend became a tradition and student athletes have been seen wearing them since.
Recently however, the style has seen a decline in the number of students purchasing and wearing the jacket, even if they receive a letter for their sport.
Roberson alone gives out more than 700 varsity letters to student athletes. Earning a letter gives the athletes the chance to purchase a jacket, however many choose not to buy one.
“I just don’t see the purpose of having one,” said senior Elyse King. “They’re not cute and they’re huge.”
While high school students today might not see a reason for the jacket, Roberson teacher Coach Stanley says that for him, they were a source of pride. He still has his today.
“If you were in sports, you wore it a lot. When we went to the basketball games, all of us that had them wore them. If you were a sophomore and you finally got your letter jacket, that was a big deal. You finally got to wear it like the rest of us.”
Stanley believes that the letterman jacket is not as popular as it used to be because styles have changed. But he doesn’t think they will go away anytime soon.
“I just think it’s not as cool, not as fashionable as it used to be. But the thing with letter jackets is that they’re tradition, and tradition never dies,” he said.
Senior Reed Schmelzle believes that the honor of receiving a letter and jacket is just as relevant today. He doesn’t believe that the letterman jacket has necessarily become less popular. He thinks that there are less of them today mainly because he believes it is harder to letter in a sport. His motivation for buying a jacket was when he realized the amount of effort it would take to receive one.
“My brother always wore his and he was a basketball player. It was super difficult for him to get his letter, so when I got my letter my freshman year, I was like ‘Dang, I’m going to be better than him.’ So I got my letterman jacket.”
Schmelzle received his letter for running cross country. He said he enjoys being one of the only students in TC who wears a letterman jacket because it helps him stand out from the crowd.
Stanley also believes that the jacket helps show who you are as a person.
“It set you apart and showed that you had school spirit and that you were involved. It showed that you wanted to be a part of something other than just coming to school and then home,” Stanley said.