An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding amateur players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best players in a particular sport, of a specific season, for each team position.
Such athletes at the high school and college level are given the honorific title and typically referred to as "All-American athletes" or simply "All-Americans".
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. The term is used primarily with regard to college and, occasionally, to high school players.
Note that similar terms exist for non-amateur athletes: 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).
Selection to an All-America team for collegiate (or high-school) players, however, is honorary in nature. "All-America teams" do not typically play any games as a unit, unlike many of the all-star teams.
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.
The use of the term has been expanded to honor persons outside 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.
In triathlons, USA Triathlon bestows the All American status on the top 10% within their age group.
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. 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. Phenotypically, the stereotype suggests a blond-haired, light-eyed, WASP, Northern European, or "nordic" appearance. 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.
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).
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. All-America teams are selected annually in various collegiate sports.
In collegiate archery competitions All-America selections are determined by the US Collegiate Archery (USCA) association. All-American honors are awarded for Olympic Recurve, Compound Target, and Bowhunter divisions. All-American honors are awarded to the top 10 archers in each division based on aggregate scores from the National Indoor and Intercollegiate Championships each year.
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 national meet are all named to the All-America team. In Division III, as of 2017, the top 40 finishers garner All-American distinction (previously top 35). The student-athlete's team must be a member of the USTFCCCA.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association currently 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.
All-American honors are awarded by the GCAA for men's golf.
In NCAA men's gymnastics, all American status is awarded to the top 8 finishers in the national championship.
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 a first and second team for both East and West.
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.
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.
The American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) and Collegiate Rowing Coaches of America (CRCA) name All-American teams for men and women respectively.
The term All-America was used for the student rugby teams that toured Australia in 1912 and New Zealand in 1913, see Rugby union in the United States.
In NCAA 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. All-American teams are selected by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
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.
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 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. Eligible students from all three divisions and the NAIA are chosen.
At the high school level, noted All-America teams are selected by Parade magazine in football, and from 1957 to 2015 in basketball. Also in basketball, the McDonald's restaurant chain selects players annually for its McDonald's All-American Game, and there is also a Ballislife All-American Game. In football, there is the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the Under Armour All-America Game. Since 2000, the United States Army has sponsored its own annual All-American high school football competition, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which includes an All-American football team, split East and West, and an All-American marching band.
In 2005, Offense-Defense Sports began publishing a Top 100 ranking for nation's the top high school football athletes. The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl is held every January, featuring the 88 top-ranked high school seniors.
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.
The National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association publishes an Academic All America Awards list for graduating seniors that have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.750, and have lettered in their high school programs in swimming, diving, or water polo.
The National High School Coaches Association also honors the nation's top student athletes on a yearly basis, as "High School Academic All-Americans".