Why does it seem like it’s getting harder and harder to be a sports fan?  Last season it was an NBA lockout, this season the NHL took its turn.  The NFL and Major League Baseball have also had their share of labor issues over the years as well.

We expect that out of the pros, but what about college sports?  Shouldn’t they be better than the professionals? And yet nearly every time there’s any sort of conference re-alignment, it’s the fans that seem to suffer most.

When Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten we said goodbye to the annual match ups with Oklahoma and Colorado, which had become classics in years gone by.

Closer to home, South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota spent the better part of a decade playing teams other than each other while waiting for the conference planets to be aligned.

Further up the road in North Dakota, there’s no sign of UND and NDSU hooking up on a regular basis any time soon.  Why? Conference affiliation.

Now it’s college hockey’s turn.  This weekend in Minneapolis, North Dakota and Minnesota, the top two traditional hockey powers in the Upper Midwest, will be playing for the final time in the regular season for at least the next three years.  Do you have to ask?  It’s the conference thing again.  UND is on their way to the new NCHC, the Gophers to the six-team Big Ten Conference.

The players will still play, the coaches will still coach, and the fans will still root, but once again something special has been lost all in the name of progress.  Welcome to the new reality of being a sports fan.