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What is a Sooner? It's kind of like a cheater ... but don't tell that to Bob Stoops

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Far_and_away_ver1.jpgIn the hours after the Oklahoma Sooners lost to the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl, the second-most searched term on Google was the query "What is a Sooner?"

Fear not, dear readers. Our research department found the following:

The term originated in 1889 when the U.S. government opened Oklahoma, then an Indian territory, to expansionists who were salivating over the term 'manifest destiny.' To claim their land, several expansionists participated in a land run, not unlike the beginning of the childhood game "Ghost in the Graveyard."

Turns out that some of the settlers got a head start on the whole shebang, and they were dubbed "sooners" by their jealous, law-abiding counterparts.

Here's how Dictionary.com defines the word 'sooner':

1. a person who settles on government land before it is legally opened to settlers in order to gain the choice of location.

2. a person who gains an unfair advantage by getting ahead of others.

For you film buffs out there, the event served as the backdrop for the 1992 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman epic "Far and Away."

Here's the entirely unreliable Wikipedia page on sooners.

And here's the Ask Yahoo page.

Now you know. And ...


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2 Comments

It is true that a Sooner is defined as you stated however locally some words take on different conatations so it can also be defined as an "energetic individual who travels ahead of the human procession." He was prosperous, ambitious, competent, a "can-do" individual.
"Boomers" were settlers who favored the opening of unassigned lands in the Oklahoma Territory. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the Unassigned Lands open for settlement. OU athletics teams were called Rough Riders or Boomers for 10 years before the current Sooner nickname emerged in 1908. The university actually derived the name from a pep club called 'The Sooner Rooters.'

As a decendant of and current resident of an area settled by the land runs I feel it necessary to add a little to your blog. Many people who came to participate in the land runs felt that the canon starts were unjustly favoring the rich with their faster horses. They had come to Oklahoma to get away from aristocrat/rich control and many just weren't going to sit back and let the best land slip away when the rules weren't fair. Also it turns out that everybody for the land run in central oklahoma was a "sooner" because an accidental (or maybe not accidental) shot was fired and the whole line of people went off well in advance of the scheduled start time. Either way "sooners" were not generally looked on in a negative light by the general populace who viewed them more as "rebels with a just cause". I am descended from a captain in the texas rangers who proudly wrote in his book about how he was a "sooner" when he came here.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on October 11, 2008 3:50 PM.

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