The U of C has a rich history and tradition in collegiate athletics. Amos Alonzo Stagg was big into comporting yourself with dignity, recognizing personal integrity and excellence on and off the field. (See two neat videos of him here and here.) He and his counterpart at Chicago, Gertrude Dudley, founded the Order of the C and the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) at Chicago in 1904. These organizations are run by and recognize the men and women who participate in athletics at Chicago.
Stagg is credited with awarding the first varsity letters to athletes in this country in 1906. Both the Order of the C and the WAA continue in these traditions begun so long ago. As a four year letter winner, I received the following (in order):
Letter sweater (v-neck, somewhere in storage)
I will have to say that my C-Blanket is one of my most prized possessions. Both the Order of the C and the WAA present athletes with this award in the same way. All four-year letter winners are asked to come before an audience at the year-end ceremony, and your coach places your blanket around your shoulders. It is a really nice ceremony.
Here is an example of male athletes receiving their blankets many years ago. Note they are standing on a 'C' in the field and that there are stars on the blankets. Every sport has a specific color star. Captains have a special star. Each athlete also has his name embroidered on the corner:
Here is a modern-era C-blanket. The black star denotes captain. Green is for volleyball. Silver is track & field. They used to just put one star per sport, but now they put on a star for every year lettered.
I wonder when Wisconsin started their letter and blanket traditions? How many others out there have similar traditions at your alma mater?