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Published January 10, 2012, 04:34 PM

COMMENTARY: Were UND Slurs Needed After Bison Win?

FARGO - It was 1990 and the North Dakota State University football team had just won a national championship in Florence, Ala. Amid the celebration, a rarely used senior offensive lineman was handed the microphone to say a few words.

By: Kevin Schnepf, Forum Communications

FARGO - It was 1990 and the North Dakota State University football team had just won a national championship in Florence, Ala. Amid the celebration, a rarely used senior offensive lineman was handed the microphone to say a few words.

It was obvious he did not prepare a speech. Struggling to find the words, he blurted: “Sioux suck.”

Really? You’re nearly 1,000 miles away from Fargo, your team wins a national championship, and that’s all you can think to say?

Fast-forward 22 years to Frisco, Texas, on Saturday – where NDSU won its first national championship since its 1990 trip to Florence. As the Bison team marched toward their locker room before the game, the three-block-long line of fans chanted “Here we go Bison, here we go.” In between the cheers, one fan yelled, “Sioux suck.”

Really? Your team is about to play for a national title, and that’s all you can think of? Never mind that your team hasn’t played the Sioux – I mean, North Dakota – since 2003.

Later that night, when 1,500 fans gathered in front of the Fargodome to welcome home their team, Gov. Jack Dalrymple started the same cheer: “Here we go Bison, here we go.” Little did the governor realize the chant must mysteriously spark an impulse to be insulting.

As if on cue, Bison supporters started yelling an additional “Sioux suck” to the cheer.

Really? Your team just won its first Division I championship, and that’s all you can think of? Never mind that your football team may not be playing the Sioux – I mean, North Dakota – for at least another decade.

We shouldn’t be shocked by all of this. The chant, considered even more derogatory because of the Indian heritage, has been uttered thousands of times during the football rivalry dating back 109 years between the Bison and the Sioux – I mean, North Dakota.

And there’s probably no way for school officials to prevent it when the men’s basketball teams play each other a week from today in Grand Forks.

But why do certain Bison fanatics insist on chanting the phrase when their team isn’t even playing UND, when their team is celebrating something much bigger than a win over their rival, or when their team isn’t even scheduled to play them in football again?

Perhaps the only answer to that is this: The rivalry, much like the Sioux nickname itself, will not disappear. Perhaps those chants we keep hearing are signals that people still crave a football game between the Bison and Sioux – I mean, North Dakota.

The passion, enthusiasm, fury, rage or anger (which ever word you deem appropriate) demonstrated from 1894 until 2003 is something current Bison students and players have never experienced.

Yet, there was Bison cornerback Marcus Williams getting caught up in the moment at the Fargodome rally, blurting out the phrase to great applause.

Really? Williams has a sister who plays basketball at UND. He was in junior high when the football rivalry ended.

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor has already issued an apology to Brian Faison, his counterpart at UND. Based on how often this insensitive chant pops up, perhaps Taylor and Faison should figure out a date they can play in football.

In the meantime, if you insist on blurting out the chant, at least be timely: “North Dakota sucks.”

On second thought, just avoid saying it at all.

Schnepf is Sports Editor at the Forum in Fargo

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