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Discussion: a more sensible name for this sport

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 17, 2021 2:21 AM # 
Backstreet Boy:
sure, you "orient" the map ... but there's so much more to this sport...

there just has to be a better name.

I suppose it's not as bad as Rogaining, which is a hair product for balding people.

Still, it could be better.

I write this because I am sad to watch this sport dying slowly. I know the name isn't the only hurdle for newcomers but I'm curious what people can come up with...
Oct 17, 2021 2:49 AM # 
I call it "navigation racing" when I talk to non-orienteers.
Oct 17, 2021 2:51 AM # 
Do you think Tennis players have a problem in this regard?
Oct 17, 2021 2:57 AM # 
Oct 17, 2021 3:00 AM # 
This question comes up every so often, and people chime in with clever ideas, and there's no consensus, and it fades away until next time...

(Actually, a lot of people who I know seem to think it does have a different name: geocaching.)
Oct 17, 2021 3:03 AM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Rogaining the sport, talking to a coworker about rogaining, the hair product:

Oct 17, 2021 3:06 AM # 
I suggest "suunnistus". Millennials will like it. No one knows what that is, it's not related to any action, like bushwhacking or swampjumping.
Oct 17, 2021 3:06 AM # 
Deja vu?
Oct 17, 2021 4:17 AM # 
Why does a sport have to be named after what you do in that sport? 'Navigating to find orange and white flags while running or walking if you're so inclined' seems a bit long and convoluted.

Many sports' names have nothing to do with what you do whilst participating in that sport and most ball sports are called what they are to reflect the name of the ball involved (or vice versa).

I call it "navigation racing" when I talk to non-orienteers.

You mean non-navigation racers.
Oct 17, 2021 6:08 AM # 
Maybe finding orange flags could be called oranging or orangutanging?
Oct 17, 2021 6:55 AM # 
I didn't know exactly what to expect when a coleague invited me to my first orienteering race. OK, let's go but my first thought was: OK I will need to find flags in the forest with a map and compass. He didn't mention that I will need to run or orient the map to find my way. So I thought this is a labyrinth race where I need to choose one of the many possible (marked) paths on the map to find the flags. So the goal which I associated the activity was more about how to find the flags and not how to orient the map to be able to find the flags. No mention of runninig either.
Oct 17, 2021 8:10 AM # 
The people who choose car model names have already grabbed all the short snappy words that don't have unfortunate meanings in some countries. (Guess that Roger Gail and Neil didn't use them.) If you want a name to be a full description of the sport, be careful where this could lead. There's a tradition round here for descriptive place names, which reaches its peak in Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu
Oct 17, 2021 8:55 AM # 
@Jagge may be on to something given Orang-utan means forest people... doesn't fit right for sprint though
Oct 17, 2021 10:26 AM # 
Urban jungle.
Oct 17, 2021 10:49 AM # 
Call it Jungle Cruise (though you might get sued).
Oct 17, 2021 11:12 AM # 
Oct 17, 2021 11:30 AM # 
Well the very foundation of my understanding of the origins of the name orienteering have just been shaken off its pedestal.
Decades ago I was told that the english word 'orienteering' was an anglicization of the Swedish word 'orientering' which translated to English means 'navigation'.
But hold on. Google tells me that the Swedish word 'orientering' translates in English to 'orientation' and that the English word navigation translates to the Swedish 'navigering'.
So should we have been calling the sport 'Navigeering' all along?
Oct 17, 2021 1:42 PM # 
Navigeering -- I like it. ;-)
Oct 17, 2021 1:47 PM # 
"Orientering" in Swedish,when not referring to the sport, means 'orientation' (introduction to a situation) - as in orientation week at university for example.
So it has two meanings in Swedish but most machine translations will go with "orientation" as the English translation of "orientering" - obviously they consider the name of the sport to be the more obscure usage.

Presumably the Swedish word orientering (meaning orientation) was itself originally borrowed from English (or maybe German, or even French ). Then the word orientering (describing the sport) got borrowed back into English (with an extra 'e' to better match English spelling conventions) once the sport started up in English speaking countries.

Of course the ultimate origin of the word means to face east (orient) and by extension to get ones bearings. This supposedly goes back to the days (before the use of compasses?) when maps were drawn with east at the top. Ie the nominal direction of reference (which today is north) was east - the direction of the rising sun.
Oct 17, 2021 2:41 PM # 
Real orienteers wouldn't think a second about what the sport is named. They would just accept it and move on, and intensify their training efforts at improving their protest skills so they could become real trail orienteers. And that's all there is to it.
Oct 17, 2021 3:53 PM # 
Worth considering is an inclusive name invented by math students from Furman University:

Oct 17, 2021 8:12 PM # 
Interesting discussion, especially because another sport I'm involved in (pickleball) has similar discussions, in fact much more frequently than orienteering does! Some people (a minority to be sure) say that the rather odd name of pickleball gets in the way of the growth of the sport. Which is strange to argue considering that the number of people playing pickleball has skyrocketed in the last 10-15 years. A main problem in many areas is having enough courts to handle the number of people playing. So here's an example of a sport that is thriving in spite of it's admittedly rather strange name.
Oct 17, 2021 8:26 PM # 
It seems like a sport with a made-up name like pickleball or quidditch would have less of an issue since you get to define the word yourself. Orienteering in the US is problematic not because it's a weird or poorly descriptive word but because people have a preconceived notion of what it's about.
Oct 17, 2021 8:54 PM # 
Good point, Cristina.
Oct 17, 2021 9:19 PM # 
I was chairing the Rogaine meeting at the last World Champs in Spain, at least I think that's where this came up. US Delegates asked about naming.

Officially - IRF don't care what you call the sport except when it's the Championships.
I call it Hide and Seek.
Oct 17, 2021 9:44 PM # 
The comments above on the origin dont mention another Swedish term, which helps this need to tell a story: orienteringslopning.

But I dunno about replacing a 5-syllable word with 7. Maybe too long even for Swedes as I have seen "OL". Perhaps a mnemonic would combine the apparent need for description with sound-bite brevity. Heady activity involving running.
Oct 17, 2021 10:17 PM # 
Heady Activity Involving Running could be combined with Rogaine to bring about HAIR.
Oct 17, 2021 10:35 PM # 
Heady activity involving running: HAIR - very clever - balances nicely with Rogaine in the US.

Löpning just means running (cf loping in English) so orienteringslöpning is just 'orientation running'. Maybe that was the original name for the sport which eventually got abbreviated to just 'orientering' or OL. In German the sport is known as Orienterungslauf and similarly in French (course d'orientation) and Italian (corsa di orientamento) the literal meaning is orientation running.

Since 'orientation' is meant in the sense of finding ones way - "navigation running" (or racing) is probably a better translation of orienteringslöpning anyway.

I like "Navigation Racing" - much better name than orienteering - but changing it would be very hard. It's a bit like QWERTY keyboards - everyone agrees there are better ways to do keyboards but changing the standard is so hard the chances of it happening are very slim.

Maybe if a few countries were to agree on "Navigation Racing" and change their name it might catch on:

Navigation Racing USA (NaRUS)

Navigation Racing Canada (NaRaCan)

Navigation Racing Australia (NRA) That acronym does not have the baggage it has in the US

Navigation Racing New Zealand (NaRaNZ)
Oct 17, 2021 11:53 PM # 
Navigation Racing America (NRA) would surely lead to an increase in starts if we don't explain the acronym. Guns instead of e-sticks would increase membership. Maybe we just get the eboxes to go "BANG!" instead of "beep."
Oct 18, 2021 12:56 AM # 
If I'm on a trail on a course and someone asks "what are all you people with maps doing?" I say it's a navigation race as I pass by. This happened today.
Oct 18, 2021 5:16 AM # 
I wonder if the players/participants/adherents of "buhurt" have similar discussions. Seems like an even more obscure sport name than orienteering. Apparently based on the French word behourd, meaning 'to wallop'. Basically medieval combat sports. Oh....and at the risk of being accused of hijacking this thread....very likely yet another sport that will make it into the Olympics long before orienteering....
Oct 18, 2021 9:06 PM # 
Pink Socks:
At the risk of being another older-than-40 person piling on this thread, I'll contribute a few points.

1) Figure out why you want to change the name. Are you wanting an increase in participation? Increase in awareness? Disassociation from the existing name? Other reasons?

2) If you want an increase in participation, where do you want those participants to come from? What age groups? Do you want to target, say, trail runners, geocachers, kids, military veterans, Pokémon Go players? What's your market? Local, national, international?

3) Understand your market. If you're aiming for Millennials and Gen-Z, for example, it's instructional to know that since that 2012 thread, a half-generation's worth of time has passed. Personally, I've always said that rogaine is a stupid name (here in the USA, stand down Aussies). But, I'm now 40+, and searches for rogaine are down, and searches for minoxidil and Hims are up. Time isn't proving me right.

4) Research what's been done already and learn from it. We can yammer on AP all we want (again, that 2012 thread), but it's more instructional to see the impact of previous name changes. What has happened in Hamilton, Ontario after renaming to "adventure running"? What about in California with TrailCross, Nav-X, Forest Scramble, and Adventure Trex? For the Seattle market, MerGeo's rogaines rebranded to MerGeo Nav Races in 2013 and then to Northwest Nav Races in 2019 (to mirror its bigger sister's brand of Northwest Trail Runs). Northwest Nav Races also created a "Checkpoint Run" name and format in 2018 to appeal specifically to trail runners.
Oct 18, 2021 9:14 PM # 
So, what has happened in Seattle after the name changes? Are conversations easier? Is there any increase in participation that might be attributed to the changes?
Oct 18, 2021 9:20 PM # 
Also over 40 and have spent over half my life pointing out that one of the problems with the name orienteering is that many people associate it with boring compass and pacing exercises walking around in the rain they did at school/the Scouts etc. An advantage of renaming it to something distinctive and not generic is that its use could be controlled so it is not used to describe boring compass and pacing exercises walking around in the rain. See Skyrunning®, Vertical Kilometer®, Ironman® etc. That being said I've never thought of any particularly useful alternative name to suggest.
Oct 18, 2021 11:54 PM # 
Stealing from Dave Pruden's book, Forest Running sums it up pretty well. It differentiates it from trail running and doesn't intimidate anyone with any mention of navigation. Off-trail Running is another option but that would frighten some landowners. I prefer orienteering however because it gives me the opportunity to explain it to the newcomer. If someone attends a meet and is thinking it's compass bearings and pacing, it doesn't take long for them to realize it's a whole new ball game and hopefully they realize it's much better. If we are going to get into renaming, I prefer to keep orienteering and change "meet" to "event."
Oct 19, 2021 12:33 AM # 
Doesn't seem to work for us in Australia. We've never referred to them as 'meets' (that's what swimmers do). They are generally called 'events' here.
Oct 19, 2021 3:25 AM # 
When we tell people we are Navigators, the next questions asked is: Do you work on a ship or a plane?
Oct 19, 2021 4:35 AM # 
Forest Running.

Except when it’s round Cambridge, Melbourne or Luxembourg City.
Oct 19, 2021 7:37 AM # 
"Do you want to target, say, trail runners, geocachers, kids, military veterans, Pokémon Go players?"

So the name of the sport should inspire potential newcomers. What these groups have in common? My observation is that most trail runners just want to run and not looking at the map. They expect to have whole course marked on the terrain. They don't like to do extra thinking (navigating) during the course beside tempo & food. They just don't like competitions where is required to have knowledge of map, compass and make constant decisions. They like to run in the nature and that's all.

The main target group should be people who like maps. One option is to print maps + use key catchy words associated with the activity, like sport for you, map/free running around/get lost, next events & contact number. Leave them in sport center, mountain huts, fitness center, etc and do it regulary.

People need to discover their love for maps and activity. To find a thrill to join the event on their terms.

You could target many groups but just people who like maps will stay in the sport or might stay longer. Pure runners and forest lovers might stay for some time but if someone is not a fan of maps will not stay. For these groups name "orienteering" is a FULL STOP. For me it would be better to start promoting the sport with maps then navigating. If someone likes maps they will eventually learn to orient the map as well BUT if someone don't like to orient it will be hard for them to find the love for maps.

What brings me to orieteering is .... MAPRUN
Oct 19, 2021 7:58 AM # 
"Northwest Nav Races also created a "Checkpoint Run" name and format in 2018 to appeal specifically to trail runners."

The name itself is brilliant. It would be worth to check how many of them returned to the next event. It might be one-off for trail runners as I mentioned most of them don't like navigating in general. A checkpoint event might be missleading for them.

In general for me the name should be easy to associate with at least with two main reasons for participating in the activity (map / running / navigating-orienteering).

Maybe there is a likeable catchy word which was used by Romans, ...when they describe how to come from point A to B.
Oct 19, 2021 8:59 AM # 
Perplex Running
Oct 19, 2021 11:34 AM # 
The first time I was in one of these conversations, we settled on "topo-racing". That was about 30 years ago.
Oct 19, 2021 11:35 AM # 
For my club, the greatest success in attracting newcomers was during National Orienteering Day. We had a free event and free food. We were overwhelmed with hundreds of people from scouts, hiking clubs, adventure racers, etc. Several people told us "We come every year!" although we were hoping they would be attending the monthly events as well.
Oct 19, 2021 5:33 PM # 
About 10 years ago, British Orienteering launched a rebrand with whizzy new formats as RunChallenge and Xplorer.

It didn't work, for reasons broadly explained by PinkSocks.
Oct 19, 2021 7:26 PM # 
as the chief dictator I decree the name to be...

Hide and Seek

close the thread now :D
Oct 19, 2021 7:49 PM # 
My limited research tells me the name Rogaine (for the hair loss product) was patented in 1988 so rogaine (the sport) appears to have been around much longer and has every right to sue the former for defamation.

Interestingly the name Regain was rejected in the US as being misleading but it goes by the name Regaine in Aus.
Oct 19, 2021 9:35 PM # 
Pink Socks:
So, what has happened in Seattle after the name changes? Are conversations easier? Is there any increase in participation that might be attributed to the changes?

I think it's going be hard to tease out any patterns solely because of the name change, but I think it has made some conversations easier.

One thing that MerGeo has been doing is pairing navigation races and trail runs on the same weekends at the same venues, so that we can be more efficient in terms of schlepping gear and such. In many cases, we have both on the same day. However, for our Teanaway weekend, we've had the nav race on a Saturday and trail run on the Sunday, a pattern that we've had for 5+ years now. I provide the newcomer instruction at the nav races, and I've definitely met people who came because they did the trail run the year before and were now aware of the nav race. The nav race here is definitely our most popular, and the trail run here is also one of our most popular.

We're a unique situation, though, because we're a navigation event producer that's also a successful trail run producer, so we already have the eyeballs.

The "checkpoint run" format hasn't really taken off yet. It's definitely gotten some attention, but I haven't been able to devote as much time into the publicity and marketing as I would like. And then the pandemic kinda mucked up the momentum.
Oct 20, 2021 2:10 AM # 
Watched a YouTube video on bicycle dancing. There are more obscure sports.
Oct 20, 2021 1:27 PM # 
Many other sports have names which don't describe the action, but through usage people have some idea what it is: badminton, lacrosse, tennis, rugby, squash, cricket, hockey, etc. The problem in the original post is possibly unique to the USA, where participation in any kind of sport is a minority activity, and media coverage of sport is dominated by 3 or 4 sports.
Oct 20, 2021 2:17 PM # 
Suzanne - have you seen ski ballet?
Oct 20, 2021 2:34 PM # 
"Many other sports have names which don't describe the action...."

At least tennis is not among them. I suppose that all names have some kind of connection to the sport activity. Maybe just not so obviously on first sight or invented in english speaking countries. I can hardly believe that any name for a sport could only be a falsely attractive name that has no meaning for a sporting activity.
The word tennis came into use in English in the mid-14th century from Old French, via the Anglo-Norman term Tenez, which can be translated as "hold!", "receive!" or "take!", a call from the server to his opponent indicating that he is about to serve.
Oct 20, 2021 5:44 PM # 
The connection of the sport to the name is pretty tenuous for Ultimate.
Oct 20, 2021 6:00 PM # 
participation in any kind of sport is a minority activity, and media coverage of sport is dominated by 3 or 4 sports.

That would be an equally good description of Australia.
Oct 20, 2021 9:08 PM # 
kofols, your description of the origin of the word tennis still doesn't mean it is describing what is happening in the sport.

Last night I saw a brief piece on the balloon world championships, where two participants run around an enclosed set piece featuring, among other thing, furniture and a car, in order to keep the balloon from touching the ground.
Oct 20, 2021 10:58 PM # 
I’d like to try sliding down the mountain on sticks.
Oct 20, 2021 11:11 PM # 
you mean "sliding down the mountain on skids" - drop the 'd' and you get skis - that is where the name comes from. In Swedish it is skidåkning which means traveling on skids (skis).

Of all the sports you could choose to demonstrate the fact that most sports' names do not describe the sport you chose one where it actually does (sort of)!
Oct 20, 2021 11:16 PM # 
Questioning from the other side of the initial proposition. Do we really want to significant increase participation numbers? If you have lots of terrain with no access issues, go ahead. But if your terrain is limited, and is managed for purposes other than recreation, ie conservation, maybe an increase in the number of participants will have unwanted side-effects. Sure, in some future time you might be able to watch orienteering at the Olympics every four years, but you may actually have fewer opportunities to orienteer each season. My other sport was rock climbing. Every available weekend we went wandering through a particular very large forest block. It was managed for multiple uses. There were many cliffs, quite a number unclimbed. I knew everyone involved in the sport in that area. Then gyms arrived, climber numbers increased. With increased numbers came a culture born of the gym rather than the forest. Clean climbing became an anachronism. These days the majority of cliffs in that forest block are closed as a precautionary measure against damage caused by increased numbers and a poor culture. Could it happen to orienteering? Can't see why not. Same park managers. I like my small sport as it is.
I am reminded of Hunter S Thompson's infamous run for sheriff in which his major policy was renaming Aspen to Fat City. With a name like orienteering we don't have to consider such extreme measures.
Oct 21, 2021 12:00 AM # 
At least where I live (northeast USA, but I'm pretty sure this applies to the entire USA), we're an extremely long way from having too many participants.
Oct 21, 2021 12:06 AM # 
Yeah, it would be awesome for the local orienteering community to, say, double or triple our membership and participation numbers. We'd still basically be irrelevant to everyone else.
Oct 21, 2021 12:06 AM # 
At the moment we're even a fair way from having any events, let alone participants.
Oct 21, 2021 3:47 AM # 
Rob you are correct about Australia's propensity to stay on bums and watch sports rather than participate, but there does seem to be a reasonable knowledge in the populace of what orienteering is about. Could be due to school programs and/or scouts, cubs and guides doing 'real' orienteering rather than just compass bearings.
Oct 21, 2021 8:08 AM # 
"...still doesn't mean it is describing what is happening in the sport."

True and that is valid also for orienteering. To complex sport compare to football. Everyone knows what it means beside in US where is called soccer :)

Maybe we need to figure out first what is the main activity which attract people to come to orienteering event. Is it a map, is it a compass, is it a punching the controls, is it free running,....

Maybe we can use somehow "ORIENT EXPRESS" as everyone knows what it stands for. How about I'm going to o-express race :)
Oct 21, 2021 9:24 AM # 
Football in Australia depends on which state you are in!

Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer all claim the word.

It is all about the context and you get it. If not likely you don't care and just go it or play football
Oct 21, 2021 10:05 AM # 
And in some codes (Rugby & American) foot only rarely touches ball, so they are both misnamed. (Some would describe them better as 'thuggery' :-)

I almost included soccer in my list above, but didn't. On reflection I should have; I think the name comes from the Italian name for football, which is gioco, which means simply 'play' so could describe any sport really.
Oct 21, 2021 10:17 AM # 
I thought it was derived from "association football".
Oct 21, 2021 10:38 AM # 
Anyone for a q poll.

1. What is your first thoughts.... on orienteering?

2. Please describe positive or negative feelings, emotions, synonyms, etc.

3. How long (time, #races) you needed to associate name orienteering with: fun, play, adventure, competition sport.

4. What kind of indoor sports you like to practise beside orienteering?
Oct 21, 2021 11:53 AM # 
1. Skills
2. Confuse, misunderstood. Mainly because media used the word "orienteering" to describe the acticity itself. A decade ago media reports about the race were under the tags: nature, recreation and not among sport section. This is also a reason we don't use "orienteering" as a name for sport. We use name "orientacijski tek" translatation might be "orieteering run". Same is in CZE. Media understand now a little bit better that we are talking about sport competition.
3. A few races. 1y to associate name to competition sport.
4. Basketball.
Oct 21, 2021 12:10 PM # 
I wouldn't often class orienteering as an indoor sport. Sometimes but rarely.
Oct 21, 2021 12:15 PM # 
I thought the indoor sport was reading AP
Oct 21, 2021 12:40 PM # 
Simmo, the Italian name for football (soccer) is calcio (not gioco) which means kick.
Soccer is a corruption of Association Football - I think to differentiate it from Rugby.
Oct 21, 2021 3:48 PM # 
Pink Socks:
1) Boy Scouts. There's an orienteering requirement for the 1st Class rank, which I did, and I also earned the merit badge. I achieved both of these without actually doing anything resembling what we do in the sport (I earned the merit badge because I impressed the dads with my map reading and navigation skills on a 10-day backpacking trip).

(Speaking of Boy Scouts and orienteering... the Google trend of 'orienteering' since 2004 does not look good. But, I'm wondering how much of that is related to the trend for Boy Scouts.

2) Most people assume compass use; this isn't wrong, but many people I talk to about it think of a map as secondary. Or they think that I'm talking about geocaching. When describing orienteering, I usually "map & checkpoints" instead of "map & "compass"

3) For me, at my first event, on the way to the first control.

4) Volleyball and basketball. I've never played it indoors, but I've been playing pickleball since 2007, so it's been kind of weird to see its meteoric rise recently.
Oct 21, 2021 11:36 PM # 
Pajama Running?
Oct 22, 2021 1:41 AM # 
1. What are your first thoughts....on orienteering?
Critical thinking, you can resist indoctrination by collectivists, you can choose your own path, you are not a part of the mob
2. Please describe positive or negative feelings, emotions, synonyms, etc.
You just finished half-an-hour ahead of an athlete who ran twice as fast
Negative: another control on a 10 years old rootstock
3. How long (time, #races) you needed to associate name orienteering with: fun, play, adventure, competition sport.
With a competent coach it comes very quickly. I was lucky to have talented ones.
4. What kind of “indoor” "sports" you like to practice besides orienteering?
In old days, track and field, cross-country/off-trail running
Oct 24, 2021 4:12 AM # 
Backstreet Boy:
Sorry @Geoman it's taken

I think something with Maps. There is a Map involved...

Map Trekking, it's been used
Map Scrambling
Map Hustling
Map Surfing
Map Something... there's gotta be something
Oct 24, 2021 4:14 AM # 
Oct 24, 2021 7:12 PM # 

This discussion thread is closed.