Monday, April 30, 2012

Ban football?

Baseball, cycling, and tennis were the most popular sports in Fargo in 1897. Baseball coverage in the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican was significant. In addition to their Red River Valley League team, Fargo featured cycling clubs and tennis tournaments throughout the summer. Basketball was in its infancy, and was just a blip on the radar. Today's most popular American sport, football, was also relatively new and rarely mentioned in the Forum. Debate still occurred regarding football's proper place in the world of sport. Many thought it was overly barbaric and violent. In fact, the April 1, 1897 Sunday Argus mentioned a bill introduced in the North Dakota state legislature that would have made it a misdemeanor to even participate in a game of football. Fines could be levied from $10-$50, fairly significant sums for the time.

Nothing ever came of the bill. According to The Spectrum, the North Dakota Agricultural College's student newspaper, the bill failed about as soon as it was introduced. The controversy over football, however, speaks to the prominence baseball held in the national mind versus a sport that is so wildly popular today. However, it should be noted that even in 1897, football was clearly the most popular sport at the NDAC (later North Dakota State University). Much of the the athletics section of The Spectrum at the time was devoted to football summaries.

*Bill discussed in The Spectrum February 1, 1897 p. 8

No comments:

Post a Comment