An All-American "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 are referred to as All-America or, less precisely, All-American athletes.
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. Therefore, to be an All-American does not constitute being on a team.
The original use of the term "All-America" seems to have been in reference to a list of college football players who were regarded by the football pioneer, Walter Camp, as the best at their respective positions. Camp first compiled this list in the 1890s.
Additionally, it has been applied to sports in a different way recently in that, Academic All-America teams also are named to honor the academic achievement of student-athletes, whether their sports skills are at an "All-America" level or not. While many organizations utilize the term, "Academic All-America" is a trademark of the College Sports Information Directors of America. The organization began the program in 1952 which recognizes college athletes at all levels of competition and in all collegiate sports. Other organizations often misappropriate the term for their respective sport or coaches' association.
This concept of team selection is confined largely to the United States because in almost all other countries, national teams that participate in international competitions play a much greater role in sports culture at both adult and age-restricted levels.
In a broader sense, the term all-American is colloquially used to describe stereotypically clean-cut, mainstream/conventional middle-class people, particularly teenagers and young adults, as used for example in the Bobby Bare song All-American Boy.
Now, there are many All-America teams selected annually in many other major collegiate sports.
Swimming and Diving: In NCAA Division I, athletes and relays who make the championship final (top eight) are considered First-Team All-Americans. Athletes and relays that make the consolation final (places 9-16) are considered Honorable Mention All-Americans.
Cross Country: Selections are administered by the United State Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The top 30 overall finishers at the meet, as well as the top 30 American finishers, are all named to the All-America team. The additional rule is explained by the following example: if 14 foreign athletes are among the top 30, then the next 14 American finishers (no matter how slow they might finish) will also earn All-American honors.
Track and Field: Also administered by the USTFCCCA, the selection rules are similar to those of cross country, in that American finishers who finish outside of the top eight in their event but are among the top eight American finishers also 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.
In 2005, Offense-Defense Sports began publishing a Top 100 ranking for nation's the top high school football athletes. The rankings have been featured on Rivals, Scout, and most recently Sports Illustrated. The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl is held every January, featuring the top-ranked athletes.
Capital One Teams with College Sports Information Directors of America to Sponsor the Academic All-America Program.
Feb 03, 2011; Capital One Financial Corp. announced a partnership with the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) to become...