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Robin Huebner, Published March 16 2014

‘Big heads’ make big statement at local high schools, colleges

If you’ve seen some college or high school sporting events lately, it’s hard not to notice those larger-than-life cutouts of athletes’ faces bobbing up and down in the stands.

And you may see more, after the North Dakota State University Bison men’s basketball team secured a berth in the NCAA tournament with its Summit League tournament championship Tuesday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“You saw a lot of Marshall Bjorklands and Taylor Brauns in the stands,” said NDSU Athletics Marketing Director Justin Swanson, referring to two of six seniors on the Bison squad.

“It enhances the fan experience,” he said.

Big-head signs are also showing up at high school events. For example, they were seen bobbing in the crowd Thursday in Minot when Fargo South defeated Bismarck in a boys basketball state quarterfinal.

The signs can make a bold statement, giving student sections a way to set themselves apart.

“It’s definitely a distraction for other teams,” said NDSU sophomore Josh Roesler, who tries to attend as many games as he can.

“It’s a cool way to show who your favorite player is or what player you have ties to,” he added.

Roesler has made some of his own -by-inch “big head” signs for about $15 each.

Another option is ordering from fathead.com, a maker of life-sized and larger precision-cut vinyl graphics.

The company says the signs are made from high-density foam core, so the cutouts “stand proud through overtime.”

It has even trademarked the name Big Heads.

According to the website, you submit the photo and they’ll make a 1-foot 7-inch by 2-foot cutout for $29.99.

For $15 more, the company prints the face on both sides. A cutout of a full person costs $34.99.

Those who submit a photo are expected to have rights to or permission to use the image, but Swanson said he’s never heard of anyone running into copyright issues.

Swanson first noticed the signs about five years ago in the student sections at Kansas, Duke and North Carolina games.

They debuted at NDSU during the 2010-2011 football season, with students waving giant likenesses of quarterback Brock Jensen, linebacker Grant Olson and then-head coach Craig Bohl.

The signs, including one of Roesler’s homemade ones, were peppered throughout the crowd at ESPN’s College Gameday show in Fargo last September.

NDSU has the football “big heads” made every year at Sign-A-Rama in Fargo.

They’re handed out to students at games and collected afterward.

An enlarged, high resolution photo is printed onto adhesive-backed vinyl, which is laminated and attached to a sheet of corrugated plastic before being cut out.

Sign-A-Rama owner Todd Fry said most of the football cutouts are 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall.

“If they’ve got a round head, it can be closer to 4 by 4,” Fry said.

You might spot Bison “big heads” when NDSU hosts an NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection show watch party at 3:30 p.m. today at the Bison Sports Arena.

Matchups for the 68-team field will be announced on CBS starting at 5 p.m.

Readers can reach Robin Huebner at rhuebner@forumcomm.com.

Huebner is also a 5:00 pm

news anchor on WDAY-TV.