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The love of the game

Vanessa Gempis | Friday, September 14, 2007

When I was a kid I hated football.

There are seriously no words to describe how much I disliked it. I was never really a big sports fan, but football was just awful. I thought it was a stupid and violent sport and that anyone who watched it was out of his or her mind.

My dad is a huge football fan, and when I was a kid, I would always tell him how dumb I thought football was and laugh at him for liking such a stupid sport.

He would always try to convince my little sister and me that football was awesome. There were even times when he’d be able to convince us to watch a few games with him. Whenever that happened, my sister and I came up with a couple of little things to keep us amused.

The first was the “root-against-whoever-daddy-is-cheering-for” game. It was fun because it annoyed my dad, but after a while we stopped because we didn’t know what was going on, and we got bored.

The second game was much more entertaining. My sister and I would pick out a player from each team and throughout the course of the game, we would count how many times our players got hit. Whoever’s player got hit the most won the game. This definitely made football more diverting, but I still didn’t like football.

All that changed last year.

When I got here, I still didn’t like football. I didn’t hate it as much as when I was younger but I still couldn’t stand it. I went to the first game watch of the year on North Quad because I didn’t really have anything else to do.

I could feel a sense of excited anticipation building up in me, if only to see what football at Notre Dame was all about. And I fervently hoped that we would win because the only thing worse than watching a football game would have been if I had to watch a football game that we lost.

As I was watching our team play Georgia Tech, I came to a shocking realization … football was a beautiful sport. It wasn’t the disgusting display of testosterone and violence I once thought it was. There’s grace, strength and skill (and watching men running down the field in tight pants doesn’t hurt, either).

There’s determination, tenacity and strength of heart. Football is beautiful and amazing. Right then and there, I fell in love with the game, and I’ve been in love ever since.

Any given Saturday or Sunday – and sometimes Monday and Thursday nights – in the fall, you can find me sitting somewhere in front of a TV watching a game. It doesn’t matter who’s playing. If there’s football on, I’m watching it.

My dad finds this hilarious considering my previous view on the sport. Now, if he calls me on the weekend I won’t pay any attention to him because I’m too busy watching the game.

The point of this story is that I love football. I love our team. And however our season goes this year, win or lose (although I hope we win), I’m behind our team 100 percent as long as they’re leaving it all on the field.

Because it’s not just the wins and losses that count. It’s the heart and determination. It’s the love of the game.

So go Irish! Beat Wolverines!