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Maintain positive attitude toward team

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 6, 2003

In Quinn Eide’s Nov. 3 letter, a student voiced his concern about showing too much full support for our football team. He fears that the students’ enthusiastic response to last Saturday’s raising of the helmets lowered the standard for one of the greatest football programs in the nation and was detrimental to the team.

I seriously doubt that Coach Tyrone Willingham’s speech in the locker room was anything like, “Well, we lost by 37 points but since our students still love us, I guess we played well enough.” Do you really think the players do not realize their failures and mistakes and do not take each loss harder than any of the rest of the students here?

The football team raises their helmets to the student section neither for an assessment of their performance nor even for approval of their efforts but to show school spirit and to celebrate the unity of the Notre Dame family, both of which do not depend on outcomes. Outcomes are nice, and if you ask people what is great about Notre Dame football, you will undoubtedly hear about outcomes such as national championships and Heisman Trophy winners and so forth. However, outcomes can depend on factors out of our control, and thus a foundation built on outcomes is fragile.

A truly great football program is built not only with the team but also with the entire student body and involves plays off the field as well as on the field. Cheering, doing the jig, eating hot dogs and having fun are just as, if not more, important than the outcome of the game.

A foundation of excellence is laid when everyone does their best, not just the players but the rest of the student body as well. The band has a standard that we always play as loud and as well as we can, and likewise it is also expected that the students cheer as loud as they can. It is important to celebrate when our team succeeds but it is just as important to give our team support when they need us. As students, we are the foundation for the University and the foundation for the football team, and we must be able to raise our team’s spirits when they struggle, in the same way that they raise ours when they succeed.

As the game drew to a close last Saturday, cheering loudly would have indeed been inappropriate, for that was the moment of Florida State’s victory. However, when the band takes the field to play the renowned Victory March and beloved Alma Mater and the players face the students, the outcome of the game is forgotten, and we remember that we are all part of the Notre Dame family.

The raising of the golden helmets is not to signify a win or even an excellent performance but to remind us, just as Our Lady on the Golden Dome does, that we are united in spirit as one student body. The suggestion of “strictly clapping” is for fans whose school spirit depends solely on outcomes. The kind of unfeeling and impersonal attitude you described is what really lacks meaning. It is that attitude and not the cheering you witnessed Saturday that lowers our standard for excellence.

Dan WasikowskijuniorSorin HallNov. 4