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The Biggest Spectator Sport in the Country


On this date in 1974, the front page of the Bismarck Tribune sported a startling photo of young people leaping about naked. The headline explained that the day before, streakers frolicked by the thousands on college campuses throughout the country. University of Georgia streakers claimed the record after as many as 1,000 students participated. But students at the University of Colorado claimed that over 1,200 streakers had dashed about their campus. Streakers ran, walked, biked and danced. Some even jumped out of an airplane over the University of Illinois wearing only parachutes. In neighboring Minnesota, streakers dashed across the court during a basketball game at St. Olaf College in Northfield. It happened so quickly that the game was not interrupted. Most of the players did not even notice the event.

North Dakota was not left out of the festivities, although the numbers were not very impressive. At Jamestown, eight men streaked through the women’s dorm, and there were only about a dozen participants in the entire state. The chilly weather may have been a factor. Police said there were no arrests in any of the incidents.

That tolerant attitude has not continued into the 21st Century. On November 19, 2011 three pledges from Delta Tau Delta ran streaking through the UND campus just after midnight. All three were caught. They were charged with disorderly conduct, refusal to halt, and minor possessing or consuming alcohol. Police reported that after being spotted, the three ran to a fraternity house where they were arrested. The following year, a streaking event known as the Anchor Run led to the interfraternity council approving an alcohol ban in fraternity houses. The council said any fraternity violating the policy could lose privileges.

Streaking seems to have largely fallen out of favor. It may be the result of attracting arrest rather than smiles. The times have changed since the day the Bismarck Tribune called the nationwide streaking event “The Biggest Spectator Sport in the Country.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Bismarck Tribune. “Streakers Frolic by the Thousands.” 8 March, 1974.

Grand Forks Herald. “3 UND pledges arrested after streaking.” 20 December, 2011

CBS Minnesota. “University Students react to UND dry frats.”
12 April, 2012.