Sports Briefs

U-AC Football Turns Nasty
Grand Forks, 1909

Ever since the Agricultural College beat the University 12-4 in their first game in 1894, spirits and tensions have run high between the two schools. The games have been called “sanctioned gang fights.” Each school accuses the other of using illegal players — even faculty. Three times the schools have broken off relations. The University is again considering not playing the AC. Word has been received here that Fargo businesses are paying some AC players.

Kid Galavan KO’s Billy Ryan
Jamestown, July 5, 1903

Several hundred locals braved the heat and bugs to witness the outdoor match. The Kid and Billy are touring the state in a series of fights. Boxing has been popular for many years with residents. Billy lasted only two rounds yesterday.

Horse Races Gaining Popularity
Fessenden, August 5, 1907

The Wells County Fair is on a nine-town horse-racing circuit that is attracting large crowds. Horse racing was popular in the larger towns in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Now it is becoming a major attraction at rural county fairs.

Track and Field Event Draws Big Crowd
Fargo, June 1896

North Dakota’s first track and field event has attracted 1,800 spectators in the downtown. Participating schools were the University, the AC, Red River University in Wahpeton, and Fargo College. The University carried the day.

Bicycling Rage Continues
Fargo, 1901

The nation’s love affair with the bicycle has not missed North Dakota. It is the number one leisure-time activity. Towns have bicycle clubs and races. And it is dependable transportation; many farmers have purchased bicycles to visit neighbors or for their children to go to school, when weather permits. In Fargo we have a dozen bicycle shops and nearly 2,700 “peddling machines.”

A cyclist in Hoople, North Dakota.  Courtesy of North Dakota Institute of Regional Studies.

Basketball No Longer a Girl’s Game
Bismarck, 1912

Several years after basketball was “invented” in 1892, North Dakota colleges and high schools organized girls’ basketball teams—in part because so many more girls than boys went to high school. Now most every high school that has five or six boys has a team that plays neighboring towns. Basketball as a girl’s sport is declining.

North Dakota Catches Baseball Fever
Everywhere, 1905

Baseball is king of sports in North Dakota and across the nation. Newspapers cover in detail the games of the National and American leagues and local teams are followed with a passion. Even the smallest of towns has a ball diamond, some with bleachers that fill to capacity. Fargo and Grand Forks have semi-professional teams that have some paid players and compete in organized leagues. Some teams have players, usually pitchers, who are brought in from out-of-state. They are not paid to play but are provided employment in a local business. Some are African- Americans. Most teams have no more than ten, some only nine, players.

Two clowning baseball players from Lakota.  Courtesy of North Dakota Institute of Regional Studies.

What’s the best team in the state? Each town thinks it is. But recently the teams form the Fort Berthold Reservation, Williston, Cooperstown, and New England have been hard to beat.

High schools, colleges, reservations and towns all have baseball teams. “Let’s play ball,” echoes in every corner of North Dakota.

Hunting Rated as Excellent
Carrington, 1909

Several men from Chicago are in this area on the chase for birds. They tell us that they have had an excellent hunt. North Dakota is considered to be a hunting paradise.

A great day of hunting.  Courtesy of North Dakota Institute of Regional Studies.

Tennis Courts Attract Enthusiasts
Grand Forks, 1901

The University has organized the state’s first tennis team. Tennis, mostly a woman’s activity, is not widespread in North Dakota. Courts are available only in the larger towns.

Playing tennis in Grand Forks.  Courtesy of D. Jerome Tweton.


By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Grade Level


Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change

Related Links

FOR FURTHER READING: See article and photographs in North Dakota History, 60.1, Winter 1993, pp. 24-32,
“‘The Fair That Made Good’: The Wells County Fairgrounds,” by Louis N. Hafermehl.