Polar bears are found across the Arctic. Polar bears do not live in Antarctica – penguins do (penguins almost exclusively live in the Southern Hemisphere.)
Polar bears are most abundant in areas with annual sea ice and productive ringed seal populations. There are five nations with polar bears: US (Alaska,) Canada, Russia, Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark) and Norway.
People often see illustrations of penguins and polar bears together, but this does not happen in the wild.
In fact, the word Arctic comes from the Greek word for bear, and Antarctic comes from the Greek meaning the ‘opposite of the Arctic’ or ‘opposite of the (great) bear.’ (Polar Bear International)
Polar bears are very strong swimmers, and their large front paws, which they use to paddle, are slightly webbed. Some polar bears have been seen swimming hundreds of miles from land – though they probably cover most of that distance by floating on sheets of ice.
Polar bears live in one of the planet’s coldest environments and depend on a thick coat of insulated fur, which covers a warming layer of fat. Fur even grows on the bottom of their paws, which protects against cold surfaces and provides a good grip on ice.
The bear’s stark white coat provides camouflage in surrounding snow and ice. But under their fur, polar bears have black skin—the better to soak in the sun’s warming rays. (National Geographic)
Whoa … wait, this isn’t about those polar bears …
This is about Hawai‘i’s semi-pro football team called the ‘Honolulu Polar Bears.’ (They were also and later known as the Hawaiian Vacation Team and, ultimately, the Honolulu Bears.)
Semi-professional football thrived on the islands for years, as early as the early-1920s. (Franks) Island semi-pro football existed in the 1930s. (Cisco)
In pre-WWII, the semi-pro Hawaii Senior Football League consisted of the University of Hawaii, the Na Aliʻis, the Healani Maroons and the Honolulu Bears. (UH played semipro teams to fill out their schedule.) (Ardolino)
“The (UH) Deans (later, the Rainbows) have always been the team to beat in the Honolulu Senior Football League. With but two exceptions the local championship has gone either to the Town Team or the University.” (Ka Palapala, 1932)
Doyle Nave, “star passer (and Rose Bowl star) on the Southern California grid squad the last two years (went to Honolulu) to coach and play on the Honolulu Polar Bears, a professional grid squad.” (LA Times, September 25, 1940)
Another notable Bear was Jackie Robinson, who had played two years at UCLA where he became the only athlete in school history to letter in four sports (football, baseball, basketball, and track.) Francis J Brickner signed him to the team.
However, he quit school with one semester to go to pursue an athletic career full-time. Finding that mainland pro teams had no place for African-American players, Robinson responded positively to Brickner’s offer of $100 per game. (GoldenRankings)
Robinson left for Hawaiʻi on September 11, 1941 to play for the Honolulu Polar Bears semi-professional football team. “FJ (Brick) Brickner, manager of the Hawaiian semipro team …”
“… has guaranteed the ex-Bruins full round-trip transportation, all expenses for two months and a job in a defense industry in return for six scheduled games with other Honolulu teams.” (LA Times, September 12, 1941)
There, Robinson worked part-time on a construction job near Pearl Harbor. The Bears won 2-games, Robinson played quarter back, half back, and returned punts.
However, an injured ankle hampered his performance, and the Bears won only two games. When the team closed its season on December 3 by losing to Healani 19-13, rain and wind limited the crowd to 550. On December 5, 1941, Jackie sailed for California. (GoldenRankings)
Hawai‘i’s first professional sports franchise debuted in 1946. The Hawaiian Warriors were members of the Pacific Coast Football League – rival to the National League and the All-American Conference.
Ben Dillingham formed the Hawaiian Athletic Corporation, modeled after the successful Green Bay Packer program, selling stock at $10 a share to Hawai‘i fans, giving fans ownership of the team.
On December 5, 1947, Honolulu Stadium was host to the last game in league history – Hawai‘i romped San Francisco 45-7 before a small crowd of 6,000. (Cisco)
(On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their opening-day game against the Boston Braves. In so doing, he became the first African-American to play in the major leagues since an abortive attempt at integration in 1884. (Schwarz))
(Playing football was not Robinson’s only sports experience in Hawaiʻi; immediately following the 1956 Worlds Series (that the Dodgers lost to the Yankees,) on October 12, 1956, the Dodgers went on a Japan exhibition tour.)
(Along the way, Robinson and the Dodgers stopped for pre-tour exhibitions in Hawaii with games against the Maui All-Stars, the Hawaiian All-Stars and the Hawaiian champion Red Sox. (Jackie Robinson died on October 24, 1972 at the age of 53.))