MSUM alumni book Border Boys examines local, regional football history

In 1934, the Dragons led by Coach Alex Nemzek beat the NDSU Bison in football 13-12. Afterward, fans flooded the field and carried the Dragons to their locker room. The players embraced, laughed, wept, and sang victory songs in the showers.

“A great bunch of kids,” Nemzek told reporters. “They played ball out there today.”

Ryan Christiansen, a 1993 and 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and he has written a book about local and regional football history, including how local football players went on to have a big impact on football in Canada. The book examines the tensions in Canada surrounding football in the early 1930s. Teams in the East had dominated the sport while teams in the West struggled to succeed and gain fan acceptance for the game. The West sought to change the game and to play it like the Americans did, and so they started hiring Americans and even played by American rules at times and against American teams. A key factor in this transition from Canadian “rugby” to football was the sport’s adoption of the forward pass in 1931, after two years of experimentation.

The book follows the evolution of the rules in both America and Canada and how the games influenced one another over time. And there’s lots of local history. For example, in the early 1930s, the Concordia Cobbers had to play their home games at MSUM because Concordia’s field had dried up. Who knew?

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