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Falcons: the solution to the football problem

Greg Ruehlmann | Sunday, September 28, 2003

It’s no secret we love sports at Notre Dame, and the sport of choice is football. Every fall, the whole campus comes alive with the loud sounds of the game: bone-crunching tackles, exuberant marching songs and boisterous cheers. Nothing, of course, is louder than the explosion of plaid outside your door at 8 a.m. on Saturday, which introduces itself as Bill, class of ’58. Bill can’t believe you’re not more impressed that he thinks he lived in your dorm room 45 years ago. On weekdays, too, any quick glance around campus will show you that this is a football school. There are always people outside tossing the pigskin across the quad. Even the artwork here shows a love for football. Only at Notre Dame could you find works entitled “Touchdown Jesus,” “First Down Moses,” and “Two-Point Conversion Hideous Severed Torso Statue Outside O’Shaughnessy.”Unfortunately, with this love of football comes a price: As the team fairs, so fairs life on campus. When the team wins, we celebrate; when the team loses, we mourn all evening. Sad to say, there hasn’t been much celebration yet this season. The worst thing we could do, though, is quit supporting our team or stop having fun. We need a sport that will keep our spirits high. Luckily for everyone, I’ve found just the thing. What Notre Dame desperately needs is a falconry club.Falconry is one of the noblest sports on earth, one that has enchanted kings and poets for centuries. Who could forget that famous old falconer William Shakespeare who wrote about the sport in his plays? Probably, too, he talked about it with a bunch of other poets and kings who hung out together for various noble falconry purposes.The possibilities for falconry are endless. Just think about it – here is a sport where you get to train giant birds of prey to catch other animals, kill them, then fly them back to you. If this doesn’t appeal to you, then you are dumb. I have spoken to a number of students, staff and faculty about this issue, and all are in agreement: Falconry is in, and we need a club for it. So some of us have banded together to create the Notre Dame Falconry Club. Immediately we were faced with a couple of important questions. First: what would be the benefits of this club for the community? We are confident that this graceful field sport will restore fan support for Notre Dame athletics across the board. An added bonus will be the fact that, if we are allowed to follow our dream of practicing falconry on campus, we will finally have found a suitable way to control the campus population of menacing oversized squirrels. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Those rodents could take down a buffalo at full-stride. How would a bird ever stand a chance? Here’s my answer: www.northernwoodsfalconry.com. This is the website for “North America’s Finest Falconry Outfitter,” where you can buy a product called “squirrel chaps.” For those of you non-experts, squirrel chaps are “truly innovative anklets for the serious squirrel hawker to further reduce any possibility of a severe bite by a large tree squirrel.” Hopefully, I’ve put your fears at ease. Let the hunt begin!The second question: What is the verb form for this activity? Does one falconize or just falcon? One might say, “So I was falconing the other day, and my word, it was intense.”Or perhaps: “Hey, Ted, way to falcon yesterday. You were great out there.” Obviously, this is very confusing, and a roadblock which we haven’t quite figured out yet. Plus, this is not the only vocabulary issue to come up. We discovered that there are scores of specialized falconry words we would have to learn in order not to sound incompetent, intimidating words like “accipiter” and “tiercel.” But thanks to our dedication, we are now able to shout with confidence such phrases as “I say, old bean, you’ve been splendidly manning that eyas since you took it from its eyrie to a suitable mews. Have you an extra creance?”Now that we’ve become masters of falconry parlance, we’re moving onto bigger issues: mastering the sport itself. Our first objective is to find the right instructional video. Here’s where Northwoods comes in handy again. The company offers an impressive array of beginner videos such as “The Lure of Falconry” and (no lie) “So You Want to Become a Falconer”.So show your support for our efforts and help us get the year back on track with a club that’s up to the challenge: The Notre Dame Falconry Club. With your help, we’ll get official club status and soar to new heights, not only because we’ll have our spirit back, but also because soaring is like flying, and that is what falcons do. I’ll be back next time to report on our progress.

Greg Ruehlmann is a senior English and theology major and the self-proclaimed President of the ND Falconry Club. He’ll be back next time to report on his progress in making the club official. Email him at Ruehlmann.1 @nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.