This past weekend a little taste of home arrived in Fargo. The James Madison University football team traveled over 1300 miles, played football and unfortunately, lost. Out of the over 18,000 people that filled the Fargodome, only a mere 50 or so sported purple and gold in support of the JMU Dukes. Even though we were extremely out numbered and in enemy territory, Midwest nice held true and gave some Virginians a great taste of North Dakota.
There were a few other JMU alums in town for the game. I was able to meet up with a handful of them the night before in Downtown Fargo and show them around. Of course, we were all proudly wearing our JMU gear. In any other town, I would expect to be ostracized when in enemy territory. Other than one isolated incident with a very passionate Bison fan, we were met with friendly comments and questions about where we were from and how we were enjoying Fargo. (Of course my story wasn’t as exciting since I am now a local Fargoan).
The next day I decided to fraternize with the enemy and meet up with some of my favorite Bison fans at Buffalo Wild Wings before the game. Unfortunately, I had no other JMU Duke by my side, only a boyfriend decked in green and gold. In fact, this was a game that divided my household. I was bleeding purple while Blake was bleeding green and gold. While we were able to withstand a move to Fargo together, we were unsure if our relationship would sustain throughout the game.
I took a breath, summoned every ounce of courage, and navigated my way through the sea of green and gold to my seat. Like the previous night, the only harassment that ensued was by only a few close friends poking fun at me before the game. As I looked around I saw one other table of JMU fans. I noticed that every so often, a Bison fan would walk by the JMU table and stop to chat. From what I could tell, it seemed like they were experiencing the same thing I had the night before: friendly chat and honest curiosity. People seemed eager to chat about Fargo, NDSU, and the Midwest in general. They wanted to know how they were enjoying themselves and if they had ever visited previously.
While I was enjoying my pre-game meal, my JMU friends from the night before were wandering around the NDSU tailgate. I had
warned them that they might not be met by the friendliest of spirits walking around the tailgate in their purple and gold. They informed me later that instead of hostility, they were welcomed into tailgates, offered food and beverages, and had an all together fabulous time.
At the end of the game, as I was wiping away my tears (metaphorically speaking of course) the announcer came on and congratulated JMU on their excellent season. “Are you kidding me?!” a fellow JMU fan exclaimed, “I can’t even be mad at them for beating us! They’re just too freaking nice here!”