Varsity is a alteration and shortening of the term university; the meaning differs depending on the region.
Varsity in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, varsity team refers to groups participating in varsity matches in sport or other competitions between rival universities, most famously Oxford University vs. Cambridge University and also King's College London vs University College London among others. The term originally referred strictly to university-sponsored teams, and dates from the 1840s.
Varsity in North America
In the United States and Canada varsity teams are the principal athletic teams representing a college, university, high school, or other secondary school. In Canada the term "Varsity" is rarely used amongst High School teams. Such teams compete against similar teams at corresponding educational institutions. Groups of varsity sports teams are often organized into athletic conferences, which are groups of teams that regularly play each other during a given athletic season. In recognition of their high level of performance, athletes on varsity teams are often given varsity letters. They are in contrast to the institution's club sports. A major difference between varsity and club sports is the source for allocated funds. Varsity teams receive financial support, equipment, and facilities from college and university athletic department budgets. Universities often allocate club sport budgets through student life departments similar to other clubs on campus. Because club sports cost more than other clubs, many club student-athletes must pay to play and also engage in team fundraising efforts to pay for facilities time, equipment, and other team expenses. At various levels of collegiate sports, varsity student athletes are eligible for scholarships solely or partially based on athletic skills.
Varsity in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Varsity is the oldest and most prestigious rowing race. It was held for the first time in 1878, and was started as a Dutch equivalent for the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge.
Varsity in South Africa
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- Van Zytveld, Jon (Oct 26, 2011). "Club Sports Offer Athletic Opportunities". Grand Valley Lanthorn. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- "Illinois Athletic Development". University of Illinois. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- "Varsity vs. Junior Varsity". NAIA.
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