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Pride distinguishes Domers

David Barrett | Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Go green. Go white. Go home you donkeys.

This weekend I played gracious host to a friend from high school and his friend from Michigan State. I baptized their forlorn fannies into the inner sanctums of the Notre Dame football experience. We did the Friday afternoon 40s routine and then puddle-jumped from party to crazy party later that evening. What was an ordinary night for any South Bend socialite was some Natural Light-fueled nirvana for these guys.

They were smitten with every Irish lassie they laid eyes on. They wouldn’t stop telling me how cool my school was. Went so far as to say they would be here with me if Notre Dame had half the Turf program MSU did. Apparently seniors in the CSS program (Crop and Soil Sciences), all aspiring golf course superintendents and groundskeepers, have a daunting course-load. Aforementioned load includes, but is not limited to: CSS 362: Management of Turfgrass Pests and CSS 269: Turfgrass Strategy – a caveat to the ambitious strategist though, this one is 4 credits, seminar setting and quite the bogy. Fore!

Those guys rocked all night long. It must have been midnight, East Lansing time, before they were all tucked in and passed out.

“Dude, 8 a.m.?”

“Yeppers dude, that’s the plan.”

“Set it for 6 stud, we’re Spartans. Go green, go white!”

The soil scientists finally rolled off the couch around 9 a.m., at which point they did their best to blend in with the Sea of Green that amassed around them. We showered them with free beer, burgers and the fairly innocuous banter that opposing fans should come to expect. Things to the tune of, “You stink”, “You are ugly,” “You are stupid,” and so on. No escalation, no offense. None taken.

Not until the game was over did anything become even remotely offensive.

I am not one to get my skivvies in a bunch about football courtesy, because God knows I’ve never actually worn skivvies. But if I did happen to have a pair of these so-called skivvies, they’d be in a wad on the floor right now.

After the game had ended, our players, as usual, proudly raised their helmets to applause and cheering from the student section. That right there is a move of pure class. I will admit that I do not go to the pep rallies, I think every The Shirt should be recalled and remade and, on the whole, I could do a shade more in support of Irish athletics; however, it’s pretty tough to keep from bawling my eyes out when they hold their helmets up.

It’s those moments that remind you that it really is more than just a game. Those guys sit next to you in class, if they go, dance with your girlfriend, if you have one, and give you wedgies, if they want to. But seriously, when they do that, man, it’s like we were all on that field. We all lost. We were all that 12th player on the field. We were all there. And it gives you chills just thinking about it.

To be quite upfront about it, if we aren’t in contention for the national title, I wouldn’t mind if we lost every game, because it makes those moments particularly poignant. Anyway, if you want poignancy, buy the book. The Bookstore has it on backorder.

After the players walked off the field and through the tunnel, and the Band of the Fighting Irish assumed formation, we waited as the MSU players finished their celebrating and went through that same tunnel.

As they were walking through our band, one Spartan stole the MSU flag from one of their cheerleaders and started waving it right in the face of one of our tubists. At a time when he should have been celebrating with his teammates and getting on the bus home, he was acting like a complete donkey and rubbing it in our faces.

There’s no place for salting the wounds, but that’s what he was doing. That’s pretty much what every State fan I bumped into on the walk home was doing. That, or throwing beer bottles at me and the pack of ladies I was rolling with. It was pathetic, entirely unprovoked, unnecessary and out of line.

If nothing else, it made me feel even more proud about our school and about our fans as I walked home. A couple of losses cannot shake that.

When I met up with those kids from MSU after the game, they shocked me by telling me the exact same thing. It’s our pride that distinguishes us. They see it. Everybody sees it. It elevates us.

Other schools don’t have that, though they all wish they did. They told me that they’d give anything to come to this school. If only we offered Turf Strategy.

David Barrett is a senior philosophy and economics major. Contact him at dbarret1@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.