FARGO — A super fan’s consecutive games streak, nearly four decades in the making, was almost halted due to a global pandemic.
Bob Clark has been at every North Dakota State football game since 1982, but that sustained perfect attendance appeared in jeopardy Tuesday when NDSU announced that only players’ families would be allowed inside the Fargodome for Saturday’s Division I FCS game against Central Arkansas for health and safety reasons. Prior to that, more than 8,000 fans were going to be allowed.
After that news broke, Clark was in brainstorm mode. He considered creative ways to continue his string of 478 consecutive Bison football games.
“Wednesday I started to think what are my angles here,” said the 68-year-old Clark, who hasn't missed a game in 38 years.
Ideas ranged from volunteering to work at the Fargodome to volunteering to be a media member. None of those were needed, however, after Clark received a call from NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen late Wednesday morning.
Clark said he was added to Bison head coach Matt Entz’s pass list.
“I don’t know how it happened, but I was pretty happy,” Clark said. “I didn’t know how I was going to get in. I don’t expect any special treatment, but this has become a big part of my life.”
The streak will extend to 479 in a row Saturday when the Bison play their lone scheduled game this fall. The Bison have all their Missouri Valley Football Conference games slated for the spring due to COVID-19, starting in late February.
“I can worry about what it’s going to be like in February, March and April, I don’t know.” Clark said. “Is it going to be the same issues getting into games at that time?”
For now, Clark is grateful he can be at Gate City Bank Field on Saturday. He didn’t want a streak interruption, even if the circumstances were not in his control.
“I didn’t want to put an asterisk out there,” Clark said.
Clark said “a lot of people” tried to come to his rescue after Tuesday’s announcement, including a player’s parent who asked if there was a way to help him get inside the dome.
“I didn’t want to take away from any family member getting in,” Clark said.
Clark attended multiple RedHawks games this summer at Newman Outdoor Field, which had an adjusted maximum capacity of around 2,000 fans per game, around 50% of full capacity.
“I never felt like I was at risk sitting there because people on their own spread out,” Clark said.
Clark said Central Arkansas game week has a different feel, knowing there won’t be any pregame tailgating in the dome parking lots, no game the following week and a limited number of fans in a usually boisterous Fargodome.
“I know there’s a game … but it doesn’t feel like it,” Clark said. “It’s kind of a flatter feel than normal.”