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On Sparta and Spartans

Tae Andrews | Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This weekend, the Michigan State Football team arrives in South Bend during Notre Dame’s darkest hour. They call themselves Spartans, but as anyone who has seen the critically-acclaimed hit film “300” can tell you, they are not the real deal.

No, unlike the green and white doppelgangers from the north, the real Spartans were a band of brave soldiers, led by defiant King Leonidas, who weathered an onslaught from thousands of invading Persians some time in ancient history.

In light of the Irish’s recent struggles, there are many lessons we can learn from brave Leonidas and the intrepid 300. In light of the team suffering three consecutive blowout losses, there’s the possibility that we, Notre Dame students, could lose faith. That the Notre Dame Victory March could instead turn into a pity parade.

We’re made of sterner stock than that.

I have never left a home game early, and I don’t plan on it. Just as Spartan King Leonidas refused to kneel to the invading Xerxes, we should weather the bad as we would cheer the good: standing with unbent knee, proud and tall.

We’re known as the Fighting Irish, not the Sitting Down Irish or the Leaving Early Irish.

Even staring death in the eye, Leonidas refused to show fear, instead shouting to his soldiers, “Spartans! Prepare for glory.”

Let this serve as a lesson to us all. Don’t think of it as losing; think of it as preparing for glory.

Besides, think of this season’s competitive balance: instead of our typical blowouts of certain teams, we could have some real nail-biters. Our annual matchup with Navy could turn out to be a regular barn burner, a high-octane wrangle with only pride and the desire not to lose to a service academy on the line.

Likewise, ND-Duke could wind up as a scintillating battle for the ages. The point is, no matchup will be boring, especially come the end of the season, when we get into the easier (and more winnable) part of the schedule.

I plan on burning a couch should we defeat Duke this year. Likewise, should we end up knocking off Navy and maintaining the nation’s longest winning streak, watch out Stonehenge – because I’m coming through, potentially sans swim trunks.

Perhaps the offensive line would do well to watch “300” and note the part where the impenetrable Spartan phalanx repels the enemy approach with shouts of “push!”

The Shirt this year reads, “Shoulder to Shoulder: Chanting Her Golden Name.” Shoulder to shoulder? Sounds a lot like a phalanx to me. Likewise, the student section should operate as a single, defiant unit.

The Impostor State Spartans will bring with them their bloated mascot Sparty, whose disproportionate foam head makes one wonder if he trains with Barry Bonds’ pals at BALCO.

Obviously, everyone knows that if things came down to actual fisticuffs in a matchup of mascots, our very own leprechaun would handle Sparty just as Leonidas worked the overmatched and inept Persian soldiers.

As the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (and the ESPN Irish-bashing barbs of Mark May) blot out the sun, remember this: we will fight in the shade.

In conclusion, true Spartans never retreat. True Spartans never surrender.

And as for those who hate Notre Dame and revel in the schadenfreude of watching our struggles and suffering, people who look back at Fighting Irish fans 2007 will remember this: that few stood against many.