An All-America team is an honorary sports team composed of outstanding amateur players—those considered the best players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply "All-Americans".

Term usage

As of 2009, the term is used in U.S. team sports to refer to players who are selected by members of the national media.[citation needed] The term is used primarily with regard to college and, occasionally, to high school players. Outstanding professional players usually are referred to as "All-Stars", or, in the case of professional American football, "All-Pros': (as opposed to Pro Bowlers, who are selected by players, coaches, and fans to compete in Pro Bowl games).[citation needed]

Selection to an All-America team for high school and collegiate players, however, is honorary in nature, and All-America teams do not typically play any games as a unit, unlike many of the all-star teams.[citation needed]

The original use of the term "All-America" seems to have been in reference to a list of college football players who were regarded as the best at their respective positions. The first "All-America" team was the 1889 College Football All-America Team selected by Caspar Whitney and published in This Week's Sports in association with Walter Camp.[1]

The United States Army 82nd Airborne Division was given the nickname "All-American" because its members came from all 48 U.S. states which, at that time, constituted the United States (Hawaii and Alaska did not enter the union until 1959).[citation needed]

Other uses

The use of the term has been expanded to honor persons outside of the field of sports, especially informally; for example an individual may be popularly referred to as, an "All-America" level entertainer, educator, or other activity which does not have anything to do with athletics.[citation needed]

The term has also been used in athletics in new ways to recognize the academic achievements of student-athletes as "Academic All-America" teams are named.[2] The term "Academic All-America" is a registered trademark of the College Sports Information Directors of America, which began the program in 1952 to recognize college athletes at all levels of competition and in all collegiate sports.

The term "All-American" is also colloquially used to describe stereotypically clean-cut, mainstream or conventional American middle class people, particularly teenagers and young adults. This usage was popularized by the radio series Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, which ran from 1933 to 1951. The "mainstream" culture was dominated by white Americans, but this connotation is changing along with demographics and acceptance of a multi-racial society.[3]

Collegiate sports

Each year different sets of All-American teams are recognized toward consensus and unanimous selection recognition. A "unanimous selection" is a player who is listed as a first team All-American by all recognized lists. A "consensus All-American" is a player who is listed as a first team All-American by at least half of the recognized lists. (See #Football (below).

All-America teams are selected annually in various collegiate sports.


In baseball, All-America teams are selected annually by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Collegiate Baseball.


Cross country running

Selections are administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In Division I, the top 40 overall finishers at the meet are all named to the All-America team. The student-athlete's team must be a member of the USTFCCCA.[4][5]


The National Collegiate Athletic Association recognizes College Football All-America Teams selected by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF) to determine consensus All-Americans.[6]

Ice hockey

The American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) selects All-Americans at the Division I and Division III levels, for both men and women. For Division I men, they select a first- and a second-team for East and for West; for Division I women, they select national first- and second-teams. For Division III men, they select a first- and a second-team for East and for West; for Division III women, they select two East teams and a single West team.


The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) annually selects men's lacrosse All-Americans, distinguished by first team, second team, third team, and honorable mention.[7]

The Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) annually selects women's lacrosse All-Americans, distinguished by first team, second team, third team, and honorable mention. [1].

US Lacrosse, the national governing body for men's and women's lacrosse, annually selects national boys' and girls' high school All-Americans. [2].


In soccer, the NCAA annually names an eleven-member All-America team following the season.[8]

Swimming and diving

In NCAA Division I swimming and diving, athletes and relay teams who make the championship final (top eight) are considered First-Team All-Americans. Athletes and relay teams that qualify for the consolation final (determines places 9-16) are considered Honorable Mention All-Americans.[9]


The Intercollegiate Tennis Association annually selects men's and women's D-1 players with the following criteria SINGLES (denoted by 'S') 1.) Top 16 seed in NCAA Singles Championships, or 2.) Reach round of 16 in NCAA Singles Championships, or 3.) Finish in the Top 20 of the final ITA Rankings. DOUBLES (denoted by 'D') 1.) Top eight seed in NCAA Doubles Championships, or 2.) Reach quarterfinals of NCAA Doubles Championship, or 3.) Finish in Top 10 of final ITA Rankings.[10]

Track and field

Also administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the selection rules are that the top eight finishers in each individual event, as well as American competitors who finish outside of the top eight in their event but are among the top eight of the American finishers in an event, earn All-America designation. Relays are judged strictly on a top-eight basis. The cutoff of eight places is the same for both indoor and outdoor competition. The student-athlete's team must be a member of the USTFCCCA.[11]


See Collegiate wrestling

In all NCAA and NJCAA divisions the top 8 placers at the national championship tournament are considered All-Americans.[12]

High school sports

At the high school level, noted All-America teams are selected by Parade magazine in basketball and football,[13] and the McDonald's restaurant chain in basketball.[14] The McDonald's All-American Team is unlike other All-America awards because it stages an annual game involving these players. Since 2000, the United States Army has sponsored its own annual All-American high school football competition.

In 2005, Offense-Defense Sports began publishing a Top 100 ranking for nation's the top high school football athletes.[15] The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl is held every January, featuring the 88 top-ranked high school seniors.[16]

Athletes who place in the top 15 of each gender division at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, a series of annual cross country running races which are held in various regions of the US, are awarded All-American honors.[17]

NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association), publishes All America lists for Swimming, Diving, Water Polo, and Academics for athletes in aquatic sports. Individuals do not need to be members in the NISCA organization to participate, but they must submit their information in order to be considered. Submissions for Swimming and Diving are web-based, and submissions for Water Polo and Academic are through paper forms, which can be printed from their website:

See also


  1. ^ The All-America Team for 1889 selected by Casper Whitney is identified in the NCAA guide to football award winners[dead link]
  2. ^ - Academic All-America Teams as selected by CoSIDA
  3. ^ "Do America's Changing Demographics Impact Politics?". Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  4. ^ "Washington women win NCAA cross country title", The Seattle Times, 25 November 2008
  5. ^ "USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Cross Country Media Handbook" (pdf format), 19 August 2009
  6. ^ Deitch, Scott E. (Ed), 2002 NCAA Football's Finest (pdf format), National Collegiate Athletic Association, February 2002
  7. ^ USILA All-American Teams, United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, 2009
  8. ^ "NSCAA Awards", National Soccer Coaches Association of America
  9. ^ "ACC Records 18 All-American Performances and a national champion at 2006 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championship", Atlantic Coast Conference, March 31, 2006, "All-America honors go to student-athletes who finish 1-8 (both individual events and relay events); Honorable Mention All-America honors go to those who finish 9-16."
  10. ^ 2004 ITA All-America Teams
  11. ^ USTFCCCA All-Americans, U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association
  12. ^ Morris, Tim, "Four-time All-American Gaeta in rare company", 18 April 2007, "Top 8 finishers earn All-American"
  13. ^ O'Shea, Michael, "Meet PARADE's All-America High School Football Team", Parade, 2 March 2009
  14. ^ "The Selection Process", McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Games
  15. ^ "Offense-Defense All-American Bowl"[dead link], Offense Defense Sports
  16. ^ "Local players headed to 2010 Offense-Defense game", Miami Herald, October 12, 2009
  17. ^ Gerweck, Jim, "It's the Little Things: Foot Locker Tidbits", Running Times Magazine

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