Something at FirstPoint USA we often get asked is "what is a redshirt" when it comes to US colleges and universities. Essentially a "redshirt" is an athlete who is withdrawn from a college or universities sporting events for a year to develop their skills and extend their period of playing eligibility by a year.[caption id="attachment_11058" align="aligncenter" width="261"] University of Nebraska "redshirt".[/caption]
The term itself comes from Warren Alfson, a linebacker of the University of Nebraska who in 1937 asked to practise but not play and wore a Nebraska shirt without a number. Pretty literal stuff!
There are a range of reasons why athletes decide to become redshirts. One common reason is that the athlete in question may not be prepared for the demands of athletics and academia. With the academic side being just as important as the sporting side, this provides athletes with additional time to get to grips with things. Additional classes and facilities can be provided to redshirts to give them every change of being in a position the following year where they are ready for the joint work.
Another common reason is to provide practice with a team prior to competing with them. This is more common with those that may not be physically ready to compete in their first year but can also be the case when there is an established starter ahead of them and they feel they may not have many chances that year.
The final reason is that should a player lose the majority of the season due to injury. This is referred to as a "medical redshirt". Hardship waivers may also be granted to athletes who appear in fewer than 30% of team competitions. This is less common then the other two reasons.
So what is a redshirt? It's something which provides athletes who need it a chance to defer a year if needed.
Below is a video explaining what a redshirt means to a college football player...