Flu Seating at Gopher-Badger Game

One hundred years ago this week, an account of the Minnesota Gopher men’s basketball team’s loss to Wisconsin in Madison included this:

“Two fouls were assessed against Knapp, Badger captain, because of the noise made by the crowd during the progress of the game. Because of the influenza ban which is on at Madison, only alternate rows of seats were occupied at the game.”
— Minneapolis Tribune, February 1, 1920

Seems so ignorant given what we now know — and fear — about infectious diseases like the coronavirus. Maybe the excessive crowd noise was coughing. The old-fashioned crowd control and infectious-disease control were not the only things a bit dated: the final score was 28-12.

I found this item during my continuing research into a novel basketball tournament held in Minneapolis from the 1920s-1950s. In the process I’ve learned a great deal more about why the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners built a recreation center in Logan Park in 1915 and didn’t build another one on the same scale in any other park for more than 50 years. I will write more on that topic in the near future.

David Carpentier Smith


2 comments so far

  1. Tom Balcom on

    David – I’m looking forward to hearing about “a novel basketball tournament’” from your continuing research. It was before our time, but it sounds intriguing. I remember watching a few games of the Minneapolis Lakers at the Minneapolis Auditorium and Armory buildings in the late 1950s before they moved to LA.



    • David C. Smith on

      I don’t remember ever going to a Laker game, but my Dad did take me to a Gopher game at Williams Arena most years when I was a kid. Great memories. We also went to a Minnesota Muskies ABA game at the Met Center in their only year here. The announced crowd that night was fewer than 1,000. We walked down from our cheap seats and sat in the front row courtside. I never played in a high school game with a crowd that small.

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