VIRG FOSS: Sports come down to the basics

My world of sports doesn't have to center around UND's search for another national hockey championship, though that certainly has importance in my life.

Virg Foss
Virg Foss portrait

My world of sports doesn't have to center around UND's search for another national hockey championship, though that certainly has importance in my life.

It goes beyond the Bison beating the Gophers in football, as big as that is in Fargoland. It's even bigger than the sheer ineptitude of any Minnesota sports team not named the Lynx.

On a moonlit night this week, sports came down to the basics in the side yard of my cabin with moon beams serving as my stadium lights.

With the baseball playoffs in full swing on TV and the Lynx closing in on a franchise-first women's basketball title, none of that could be seen or heard in the side yard late this night.

As midnight approached on an extremely warm fall evening, the sport came down to man vs. dog.


It was Ole the eight-year-old cocker spaniel spinning and sprinting into the darkness in pursuit of his beloved tennis ball kicked along by his partner.

Didn't matter that there are like a million leaves covering the ground or that I would sometimes kick the ball into total darkness, and he wouldn't see it.

My dog has the nose of a bloodhound and is as a stubborn as a cat. His sense of smell will eventually lead him to the ball. He won't quit until he finds it.

I must confess I did watch much of the Minnesota Lynx game earlier that night, and how strange is that? A year ago, I could care less about them. Now, the brand of basketball they play is fun to watch. It's absent the preening and posturing of athletes that has come to dominate NFL and NBA games and turns me off.

Women's basketball on the pro level remains as pure and simple as a game of backyard soccer between man and dog. On TV, there are the voices of thousands of screaming fans cheering on the Lynx.

When the game ends, the therapeutic sound of the rustling of dried leaves as my puppy scampers after the ball replaces the screams coming over the TV set.

Across the lake, where once I counted lights on in 15 cabins earlier in the night, as midnight approaches, I see lights in only eight.

The half moon casts a searchlight across the lake, making the surface of the water look remarkably like sparkling diamonds.


Puppy and I take a break and sit on the bank overlooking the lake. We look up at the moon and the twinkling stars.

I break into a song from my childhood, singing "I see the moon, the moon sees me" and wondering if someone across the lake can hear me.

I'm going back to Grand Forks for the weekend to watch some Fighting Sioux hockey. That excites me, as it always does.

Yet I've found that as I move along in years, I've come to anticipate and appreciate the simplicity of life as well.

Life can slow down to a one-on-one game between man and dog on a moonlit night or speed up to the complexity of the game and the excitement of 11,000 fans cheering on the Fighting Sioux hockey team.

I find room in my life for both these days, and how nice is that?

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 or at (701) 772-9272.

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