The death of the varsity letter

Letter jacket no longer a symbol of achievement…

Megan McCormack | Staff Writer

While obtaining a varsity letter jacket used to be a sacred tradition that stood for pride and glory among high school athletes, letter jackets are no longer as prominent as they used to be at Mason High School, according to sophomore Maggie Owens.

Owens received her varsity letter in cross country as a freshman. Unlike many students at Mason, Owens said she got a letter jacket to remind her of what she accomplished her freshman year.

“[The jacket] just was a way for me to take pride in what I’ve done and for others to see [what] I’ve accomplished,” Owens said.

Senior Erich Myers said that receiving his varsity letter in football showed that he worked hard enough to be able to play on Friday nights.

“[Receiving my varsity letter] reflected the whole season and [the] work I put in,” Myers said. “Showing what I can do to… play on Friday nights…meant a lot…to me.”

Myers earned his first varsity letter as sophomore. He said that his letter jacket has a special meaning to him because it shows his dedication to football.

“The people who [have varsity jackets are] people that [are] just really…love the sport,” Myers said. “They’re just proud to be Mason Comet[s].”

Senior Andrew Askren, who received his first varsity letter for soccer as a junior, said he decided not to get a letter jacket because of its high prices.

Prices of letter jackets depend on the place in which they are ordered, but can cost anywhere from $100 to $175. Askren said he did not want to spend that much money on a jacket that he would only wear in high school.

“I just never felt the need to spend the money on the jacket because [I’m] probably not going to wear it after high school,” Askren said. “So, it’d probably just take up space.”

Senior Mitchell Beebe, who received his varsity letter for lacrosse his sophomore year, also said he didn’t get a jacket because he said he didn’t want to show off his accomplishments.

“I think [getting a jacket is] kind of flashy,” Beebe said. “I don’t know if you really need to show everyone that you got a letter.”

Owens said she agrees that some athletes might not want to throw their accomplishments in other students’ faces and look cocky, because this generation cares more about what others think.

“I think we think more about what people think about us than how we actually feel about ourselves,” Owens said.

According to Myers, though, not many students are wearing the jackets because Mason’s pride has been lost in its recent expansion. Once a small farm town, Mason has grown into a bustling city with people from all over; Mason is now a melting pot of sorts, not just comprised of people who have lived here their entire lives.

“Mason used to be a really close-knit-type community where everybody knew each other [and] everyone was proud to be a Mason Comet,” Myers said. “But, now you see people who associate themselves with where they’re from before Mason. They’re not really focused on the community atmosphere.”

But the jackets aren’t only dying in Mason, according to Lakota East High School junior Emilee Bell, a varsity soccer player. Bell, who received her varsity letter as a freshman, said that she barely sees athletes wearing jackets at her school.

She said the reason athletes aren’t buying them anymore is because students are buying more stylish things for this generation.

“There [are] more important things [to buy], now [such as] materialistic items,” Bell said. “People just buy things; they don’t really need to earn [anything] anymore.”

Myers said that athletes aren’t wearing the jackets as much because of the number of people who are wearing them has declined with recent years.

“Now you have all the examples of the people [who] aren’t wearing the jackets,” Myers said. “So, [students who get varsity letters] figure, ‘Well… if not everyone is [getting a jacket], then I don’t really have to [get one, either].’”

Beebe said that the “jock-look” has changed as years have passed. He said that what used to be wearing a varsity jacket as sportswear has become more casual.

“You watch old movies and you see everyone wearing [a letter jacket], and that [was] that jock-look,” Beebe said. “Now, [the look is] starting to change; [it’s] just gym shorts and mid-calf socks.”

Beebe said, though, that he thinks that having a letter is sufficient and is happy with just that.

“It’s cool to have a letter,” Beebe said. “I don’t really think it’s cool to have the jacket. Having a letter is enough for me.”