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All-America

From Academic Kids

An All-America team is a sports team composed of star players. It is usually used in U.S. team sports to refer to players that are selected by members of the national media. The term is used primarily with regard to college and occasionally (and more controversially) high school players; professional players are usually referred to as all-stars, or, in the case of professional football, "All-Pros". Selection to such a team is primarily of an honorary nature; All-America teams, unlike some other all-star teams, are generally not assembled for the purpose of playing games as a unit. The original usage seems to have been to a list of players regarded as the best of that year at their respective positions in college football selected by football pioneer Walter Camp in the 1890s; the team still selected annually by his successors continues to be one of the most prestigious. There are many other All-America teams selected annually in most major collegiate sports, other prestigious ones include those selected by the wire services and coaches' organizations, and the team sponsored annually by Kodak. At the high school level, the most recognized All-America teams are those selected by Parade magazine in football and the McDonald's restaurant chain in basketball, which unlike other All-America awards actually stages an annual game involving these players. Many coaches and others feel that it is wrong to select players as young as most high school athletes are for national-level honors and that the pressures related to this far outweigh any good that can come for it; supporters respond that it is valuable to the collegiate sports recruiting process and that such teams would continue to be selected by private "recruiting services" even if all corporate sponsorship were to be removed.

This concept has been expanded in recent years to honor persons outside of the field of sports, especially informally; it is now not unusual to hear someone referred to as an "All-America" level debater, drama coach, or other activity. Additionally, it has been applied to sports in a different way in that "academic" All-America teams are now also named to honor the academic achievement of student-athletes whether their sports skills are at an "All-America" level or not. Individuals selected to All-America teams are generally referred to as All-Americans.

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