Foss: North Dakota's real rivalry resumes tonight
I find that for me, the Christmas season tends to sharpen the focus of what life can be like as a journalist. We've all opened Christmas presents that were not what we wanted or hoped for. It's like that in writing. Some days you sit down at the ...
I find that for me, the Christmas season tends to sharpen the focus of what life can be like as a journalist.
We've all opened Christmas presents that were not what we wanted or hoped for.
It's like that in writing. Some days you sit down at the computer keyboard with an idea in your head. By some magical process, the thoughts flow through your fingers, shape themselves into words and sentences and turn out pretty durn good. At least that's how grandpa C.W. used to say it down on the farm in Stockholm, Minn.
Then there are weeks like this, when everything is a chore. A cold has stolen my voice, robbed me of energy and passion. It is difficult to write a column with those last two items missing. My fingers can be my voice, so that part is no problem.
I've spent the better part of the week answering e-mails from mostly NDSU Bison fans who got a little (or very) upset with my column of a week ago.
The gist of that column was a knock at Bison fans, which showed up just 12,200 strong for the first football playoff game ever in the Fargodome, which seats 19,000. Let me say that again -- it was a knock at Bison fans, not the Bison football program.
That same night, a capacity-plus crowd of 11,742 jammed Ralph Engelstad Arena to watch the UND Fighting Sioux play a nonconference hockey game with Notre Dame.
Bison fans have been unable to explain why nearly 7,000 of them skipped the big playoff game, an epic moment in Bison sports history.
One who tried failed as miserably as humanly possible. "I'm not sure the sellout in Grand Forks had as much to do with the Sioux as it did the Fighting Irish," he wrote.
"If NDSU had been playing Notre Dame (in football, rather than Robert Morris). I'm sure they would have been sold out, too."
Nice try, but the Irish aren't a big draw in hockey. The Sioux sell out every game, regardless of the opponent. And Notre Dame will play football in Fargo the same year the Vatican sees a non-Catholic Pope.
But the heated exchanged of letters with Bison fans this week only serves as a backdrop to what is happening tonight.
In that same Fargodome, the Sioux and the Bison play in men's basketball, for the first time since 2004. Once a heated rivalry and a great one, it's back. More than 9,000 -- an NDSU record -- are expected for the game, attesting to the interest and hunger for Sioux-Bison meetings in any sport. Congrats to the administration and coaches for getting this done.
Fans on both sides can and do claim the rivalry is dead and gone, for whatever the reason. Different leagues, different dreams, different leaders, different times.
The spicy tone of letters to my mailbox this week from Bison fans responding to my last column and the interest in tonight's Sioux-Bison basketball game expose that as a lie.
The Sioux need the Bison. The Bison need the Sioux. The fans in the area and state need for the rivalry to resume, in all sports.
Check out Tom Miller's interesting blog on the Grand Forks Herald web pages. He has more reasons why the thawing of the relations between the two schools in athletics is a healthy and vital sign for both schools.
And Bison fans? Be nice in my mailbox this week, OK? It is the Christmas season.
Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at email@example.com or at (701) 772-9272.