Letter Jackets

Letter jackets used to be reserved for the select few that were, for lack of better words, better than the rest. They used to be worn by only the elite. In recent years, letter jackets can be seen on more and more peoples, especially since the 2008-09 sports year brought in numerous state champion and runner-up letters. One experiences no difficulty finding a letter jacket in Ames High School. As long as the temperature is below 50 degrees, students are almost guaranteed to see one. Many students take pride in these jackets. Not just the “jocks” appreciate a hard earned letter. Coming into high school, everyone assumes that those big, scary football players wearing their letter jackets will stuff them in a locker or trash can. On the occasions when people have been forcefully crammed into small spaces, which have been zero, none of the offenders have been in letter jackets. In fact, one of Ames High’s most famous letter jacket owners would never even consider harming another person. Most know him as “the complete package,” but his birth name is James Kohler. Kohler has lettered in almost every activity possible. He is the recipient of football, basketball, track, baseball, academic, lamp of knowledge, and orchestra letters. For those unfamiliar with how the letter jacket process works, when a student meets the set requirements by that activity, he or she receives a letter. For each time they meet the requirements after, they receive a pin to attach to their letter. Not since the great Ben Cotton has anyone even come close to having as many pins as "the complete package" has now. He is modest about it, however. "My parents got it for me," Kohler said, "I guess I wear it so I feel warm?" To "the complete package", his letter jacket has no use but warmth. This isn’t the case for everyone. Some buy the jacket to show off their accomplishments. When asked why he would buy a letter jacket, junior Abhishek Seshappa said, "So I could show it off without having to say ‘Hey everyone, look at my letter!’ They’d just have to look at my jacket." Students work hard for their letters, so why shouldn’t they show them off? This also begs the question: what type of hard work constitutes a letter? Being a tremendous athlete isn’t the only way to receive a letter. It is possible to receive a letter in orchestra, choir, band, debate, and academics. Participating in these activities doesn’t guarantee a letter. Like sports letters, students have strict requirements they must follow in order to receive their letters. "I feel like debate, music, and academics deserve letters because often times you put as much time into those activities as one would put into athletics." senior Zoe Russell said. "In debate, you have to do really well in a season to get a letter so the criteria for receiving a letter is pretty selective. I put in so many hours for debate, and I feel like people in debate and music should be recognized for their achievements through letters." Where does this line end? Which clubs and activities deserve letters and which don’t? Sure, Debate Club works hard, but so does Student Council, Quiz Bowl, Mock Trial, and SHEPH. And when you start talking about hard working students, I-Ball champions, I-Pong champions, and break dancers come to mind. All students that work hard should be awarded with a letter, right? Once everyone starts getting letters though, doesn’t the whole idea of them lose its meaning? Not to say that the recipients of letters now are undeserving. But who’s to say who is deserving? The limits on the distribution of these letters should be better regulated. When everyone is walking around with letter jackets, are they really that special? When everyone is an elite hard-worker, aren’t we all equal? Sure, we are all special, but let’s face it, is everyone really special enough to wear a letter jacket?