RYAN BAKKEN: Politics? Dull? Certainly not this year's N.D. session
Who says politics has to be boring? Not the North Dakota Legislature, which is off to a rousing start. The Legislature even has the attention of people whose newspaper reading usually is confined to the sports pages. The rapt interest is because ...
Who says politics has to be boring? Not the North Dakota Legislature, which is off to a rousing start.
The Legislature even has the attention of people whose newspaper reading usually is confined to the sports pages. The rapt interest is because its key topics include booze, the Fighting Sioux nickname and sex.
Let's review them in alphabetical order:
A House bill would prohibit alcohol at college sporting events with minors present.
Approval would impact two major sports. One is football, where tailgating ranks at least equal on the fun-meter with the actual watching of the game. It's a party on concrete.
UND's meteoric rise in attendance, tailgating and football victories happened simultaneously in the 1990s. The simultaneous part wasn't a coincidence. Football tailgating also is a huge attraction at NDSU, where tailgaters also engage in the testosterone-laced competition of who has the biggest . . . bus.
But the tailgating experience peaks at UND hockey games, where swilling cold ones happens before, after and during the competition. With 11,000-plus patrons, the Ralph Engelstad Arena is the largest sports bar in North Dakota, with the benefit of live action.
The skill and success of the team certainly contributes to packing the joint. The grandeur of the arena contributes to the ticket demand. And, so does the option of kicking back with some relaxants at the end of the workweek.
If the bill becomes law, it could mean a big hit for UND.
Of course, for many philosophical and practical reasons, it won't pass the Legislature. And, even if it did, the REA probably would ban minors before it banned beer. The electric bill at the REA is pretty high and it needs the profits that $6 draft beer brings.
- The Fighting Sioux nickname:
Several bills have been introduced in an attempt to retain the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. The most prominent is by House Majority Leader Al Carlson, who would write the nickname and logo into state law.
"People want to keep the logo," Carlson cited as his motivation. A resident of Fargo, Carlson is a self-professed Bison fan.
So, pardon my skepticism, but I wonder if: A) Carlson is running for higher office, knowing that his position will win him more votes in North Dakota than it will lose; or B) as a Fargo resident and self-professed Bison fan, he's just further yanking the chain of the long-suffering UND supporters on both sides of the issue.
The Fargo Forum's editorial page has noted Carlson's appetite for grandstanding and attention-grabbing.
Like the alcohol restriction, this bill has little chance of passing. The North Dakota Legislature has a long history of passing as few new laws as possible.
This bill would require school districts to teach abstinence in the classroom. The lessons would include that "abstinence is the expected standard for all students" and that "sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."
I'm confident most parents would agree that their minor children should abstain for a number of reasons. However, sex outside of marriage is "likely to have harmful psychological effects?" Huh? It that was the case, there would be more North Dakota adults -- including legislators -- who would be living inside mental institutions than outside of them.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .