By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
This entire article revolves around the use of the letter “s”. To use or not to use, that truly is the question.
This past week, following the Braves and Lady Braves victories in the semifinals of the Big Smoky Mountain Conference basketball tournaments, it was announced, “Thank you to the Braves Nation for your continued support!”
That night, a friend of mine, a Cherokee High School alumni and staunch, staunch supporter of all Cherokee sports, told me it is his opinion that it should be Brave Nation, not Braves Nation.
I never thought about that at all, and I’ve used Braves Nation in articles and even as hashtags (#BravesNation) on our social media accounts here at the paper. But, it got me to thinking about all of the teams that use nation to refer to its fans.
Most team names end with the letter “s” as in Braves, Lady Braves, Tarheels, Packers, Cowboys, Raiders, Blue Devils, etc. But, many of their fan bases do not use the “s” when referring to themselves as a nation.
The Raider Nation is actually the official name for all Raiders fans. Western Carolina refers to its sports fans as the Catamount Nation. Then you have the Blue Devil Nation and their arch rivals the Tarheel Nation. Even us cheeseheads are known collectively as the Packer Nation.
I can’t say for sure when the use of the word nation came into use when referring to a fanbase, but in doing research on the topic, the earliest use I could find myself was a reference to the Steeler Nation, a phrase coined by John Facenda, narrator for an NFL Film production called “Blueprint for Victory” about the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers season.
There are examples though of times when the “s” is used as in Steelers Nation. Wait, what? Yep, the Pittsburgh Steelers official site refers to its fans as Steelers Nation even though several fansites and many references use Steeler Nation. It is a little confusing.
I found some team names used both ways. The Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos refer to its fans as Broncos Nation while the Boise St. Broncos’ fans are Bronco Nation.
Since we’re in the middle of basketball season, I was curious and researched the teams in the ACC to see how their fans refer to themselves. As far as I could find, six of the teams’ fan bases do not seem to use Nation at all including: Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Boston College. The rest all use the singular version including: Tiger Nation (Clemson), Tomahawk Nation (FSU), Tarheel Nation (UNC), Blue Devil Nation (Duke), Hokie Nation (Va. Tech), Cardinal Nation (Louisville), Panther Nation (Pitt) and Wolfpack Nation (N.C. State).
Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
So, whether you’re a member of Braves Nation or Brave Nation, it’s fine…just keep screaming for that maroon and gold.