sleuthpanther

Saracens: Who's side are you on anyway?

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Saracens are a rugby team that play at the highest level of English club rugby. They are the New England Patriots of Premiership Rugby, with their recent dominance as of late making them one of the more infamous clubs across Europe. 

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The term Saracen was used as a general term by European writers during the middle ages to describe any muslims/arabs. According to Wikipedia, the name of the club was said to have come from "endurance, enthusiasm and perceived invincibility of Saladin's desert warriors of the 12th century". What is interesting is that, during the twelfth century, these desert warriors were using these incredible skills to kill English knights in the Crusade.

This name has always interested me, because I can't think of any equivalent. Sarries logo is literally what the Ottoman Empire would look like as a modern corporation, and there are people on these boards refuse to consider the throwback Patriots jerseys as an option because they are red (and the color red= redcoats duh). It obviously helps they are drawing from a conflict as old as the Crusades, but it's still fascinating to me that they use an enemy that killed Englishmen in the past as their mascot. Are here any other sports teams that are named after an adversary of some kind? What if there was an American team, in any sport, called the "Hessians"? Would this ever be an option for a team in the United States? 

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No, for one Americans would be confused by the term, then when they found out what it meant they would riot. Now there are a few teams that play off the confederate for their names and imagery like the ole miss rebels, but that works because it comes from the south where southern pride is a big thing. You also have the various teams named after native Americans like Indians, braves, blackhawks, chiefs and redskins which are named after them because of the Nobel and brave warriors that those groups fought with. And you could very easily say the native Americans were our biggest adversary for most of our history, it’s just we were on the morally low ground of all those conflicts.

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Hurricanes are things that show up and kill the current residents of the places that have teams named after them.

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It's the noble opponent mentality, Saladin was always romanticized in the West as a brilliant leader and noble warrior despite fighting against the Crusaders. I don't know if the US had that many enemies that filled that "noble opposition" role culturally- Black Hawk is an obvious example from a sports team, but does anyone outside of Illinois know who he actually was? I suppose Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull fill that role as well. 

 

I also believe that at the time (Victorian era) it wasn't uncommon for club sports teams to affect foreign cultures by e.g. calling yourselves the Zulus and wearing mock African regalia on the pitch. 

 

Apart from that, the only other "noble opponent" figure of the US that comes to mind is Erwin Rommel, who I'm assuming is not getting a sports team named after him any time soon. I guess you could count the entire CSA and CSA figures like Lee/Jackson/et al but that's a completely different cultural and racial context.

 

 

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Saracens to the English are like Vikings to us in the US. They have no real meaning because they were never actively involved on English soil. Vikings landed in Canada and upper New England but other than the people of Minnesota being Scandanavian, were there any real Vikings living in Minnesota during the 1000's? 

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Americans who romanticize Robert E. Lee and Erwin Rommel should never be let out of your sight.

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2 minutes ago, the admiral said:

Americans who romanticize Robert E. Lee and Erwin Rommel should never be let out of your sight.

 

And don't forget those who romanticize Christopher Columbus.

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7 minutes ago, the admiral said:

Americans who romanticize Robert E. Lee and Erwin Rommel should never be let out of your sight.

Our actual greatest opponent from any standpoint of generalship has to have been Vo Nguyen Giap, who maybe fifteen non-historians have ever heard of. I'm going to assume that nobody has ever planned on naming their US sports team after the Viet Cong.  

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40 minutes ago, neo_prankster said:

 

And don't forget those who romanticize Christopher Columbus.

 

He discovered America, is what he did! He was a brave Italian explorer. And in this house, Christopher Columbus is a hero. End of story.

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"Noble opponent"?  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

 

1 hour ago, Cosmic said:

Hurricanes are things that show up and kill the current residents of the places that have teams named after them.

Yep-- also tornadoes, cyclones, twisters, avalanches, volcanoes, earthquakes, blizzards, etc.

 

Also, what about teams.such as Pirates,  Buccaneers, and Raiders?  Those were bad people, criminals in fact...

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1 hour ago, the admiral said:

 

He discovered America, is what he did! He was a brave Italian explorer. And in this house, Christopher Columbus is a hero. End of story.

 

I read in the voice of Homer Simpson and it elicited a grand laugh.

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23 minutes ago, B-Rich said:

"Noble opponent"?  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

 

Yep-- also tornadoes, cyclones, twisters, avalanches, volcanoes, earthquakes, blizzards, etc.

 

Also, what about teams.such as Pirates,  Buccaneers, and Raiders?  Those were bad people, criminals in fact...

Depending on which pirates you talk about, some worked for England, Spain or France as well. Or if you see yourself as someone who bucks society's rules they work too. 

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6 minutes ago, the admiral said:

Wrong beloved TV oaf.

 

Man I'm out of touch. Actually thought that was serious comment. Consider me fooled.

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6 hours ago, MJWalker45 said:

Saracens to the English are like Vikings to us in the US. They have no real meaning because they were never actively involved on English soil. Vikings landed in Canada and upper New England but other than the people of Minnesota being Scandanavian, were there any real Vikings living in Minnesota during the 1000's? 

I’m pretty sure that there are rumors of the Vikings heading as far inland as the Northern Minnesota-Ontario-Manitoba area. But I don’t know how solid any of that information is. There’s supposedly a Viking carved stone that was found in Northern Minnesota...

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9 hours ago, fbjim said:

Apart from that, the only other "noble opponent" figure of the US that comes to mind is Erwin Rommel, who I'm assuming is not getting a sports team named after him any time soon. I guess you could count the entire CSA and CSA figures like Lee/Jackson/et al but that's a completely different cultural and racial context.

 

Yeah, lionizing the CSA is even worse

 

As for “noble opponent”, you need look no further than the fetish for First Nations imagery.

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My understanding falls along the lines of old-timey writers branding athletic clubs with names representing a mild, almost sanitized for sports, dogged tenacity seen as a trait of not well understood adversaries of the western world or of white men: "Our boys in red stopped every offensive maneuver, appearing like devils in every gap." "The defense stood no chance as [SCHOOL NAME] raided the secondary like a band of savages." I feel like names like that, Saracens, Indians, Warriors, and even Devils, came out of that time when teams didn't necessarily have particularly decided nicknames, and instead, the writers described them as they felt. And a persistent, tenacious, frenzied attack by a team would lead itself to the use of those names above because at the time, that perception applied to these historic adversaries of the generally white western world (with Devils, of course, being the spiritual enemy or other for most Christians). (I'm thinking the late 1800s and early 1900s here, specifically.)

 

Obviously now most of the comparisons fall flat and come off as insensitive to downright racist. But that's the plausible explanation that first occurred to me when reading OP's post. An adversary of white or western culture that was not well understood whose name could evoke a manner of understanding in an audience when applied to the way in which an athletic team performed on the field.

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12 hours ago, the admiral said:

Americans who romanticize Robert E. Lee and Erwin Rommel should never be let out of your sight.

 

Didn't someone recently say there were some good people on that side?

 

5 hours ago, chcarlson23 said:

I’m pretty sure that there are rumors of the Vikings heading as far inland as the Northern Minnesota-Ontario-Manitoba area. But I don’t know how solid any of that information is. There’s supposedly a Viking carved stone that was found in Northern Minnesota...

 

Debunked, unfortunately...

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington_Runestone

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6 hours ago, chcarlson23 said:

I’m pretty sure that there are rumors of the Vikings heading as far inland as the Northern Minnesota-Ontario-Manitoba area. But I don’t know how solid any of that information is. There’s supposedly a Viking carved stone that was found in Northern Minnesota...

Vikings made it to Baffin Island, the Canadian Maritime area, and probably parts of New England. 

 

That’s it. Any claim that vikings made it beyond that is based on pseudo-history and pseudo-science.

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