When Sports People Go BERSERK #5: Did someone say “bear shit”?

Roy Pedersen

Last time on our "Going Berserk" series, we've seen that bats are amazing flyers on the baseball diamond. Now when bears are supposed to hibernate, All In Translations is dragging them in the spotlight. Well, at least as emblems of robust ire and brawn.

lazy bear

Since Christmas was just there, let's keep the swearing off, okay?

Better to switch to some etymology-based insights into the origin of this flashy expression, "Going berserk". Needles to say that I'm already feeling patriotic and proud like an alpha...

Berserkr is most typically translated as "bear’s shirt" from Old Norse, but the word “berserker” originally referred to Scandinavian warriors who fought with irrepressible frenzy. They were THE badass, military versions of ancient Shamans, entering in a trance-like condition when the battlefield turned into a morass of enemies.


One of Iceland's most illustrious literary figures, Snorri Sturluson, described the feral berserkers in these words:

Odin's men rushed forwards without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild bulls, and killed people at a blow, and neither fire nor iron told upon them. These were called Bersærkers.

It was said that to enter that savage rage, the berserkers would have pre-battle rituals in which they would drink wine or mead, and work themselves up into a beastly mood through collective dance -- an old, Nordic version of Haka...

Historians even say that some Norse warlords held their berserkers “in reserve” during a siege or assault. The superhuman, mad fighters were only sent into battle if things were starting to look quite bad for the Viking side.

The term "berserker" today applies to any fighter who loses his mind and attacks like there's no tomorrow. And "going berserk" is used to translate that odd situation when someone's suddenly acting with a fury and a folly that know no bounds or fear of consequence. Just like the sports people we've been parading here weekly.

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