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Football: Raise your helmets

Staff Editorial | Friday, November 16, 2007

Sophomore offensive lineman Sam Young walked to the northwest corner of Notre Dame Stadium last week after yet another home loss and did something that has largely been forgotten or ignored by the football team this season.

He raised his golden helmet in salute to the student section.

Young then turned to his teammates and urged them to do the same. No one raised an arm.

In news conferences the past few weeks, reporters have frequently asked players and coaches what student support means to them. Every answer is the same: We appreciate that the students still have our backs.

So why doesn’t the team perform this simple gesture of thanks to a student body that has supported them throughout the worst season in school history?

It’s such a small thing – what in the past was a formality at the end of every game. But to students, it’s not small, it’s not meaningless and it’s not something they can ignore.

It’s about respect. After every loss, students have stood and cheered while the team trudges into the corner for the alma mater. It’s their version of the helmet raise, showing appreciation for their classmates’ efforts on the field. But it goes unanswered, and it’s insulting.

“All I know is at the end of the game, win or lose, we walk over to that corner, and I look at the student body, especially after you lose a game, and I can’t believe they’re all there. I really just can’t believe they’re all there,” coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday.

But yet for all of Weis’ admiration of student loyalty, why

hasn’t he stressed to his players the importance of the helmet salute? He spent four years in the student section. He should know.

The seniors and fifth-years know what it’s like to lose frequently, but in the last two years they know what it’s like to win. Yet it took an underclassman in Young to recognize that even in defeat the team must show class and acknowledge the students.

Yes, for the past several seasons, the team raised its helmets after losses, but that was done with the confidence that next week would bring a victory. That is not the case this year, when each week has seemed more tenuous than the next.

It would have been the difficult, but right thing to do after every loss. The team, however, failed.

But whether the team loses Saturday to Duke or wins and takes a step forward toward next season, it can gain much by returning the respect the students have shown all season. It takes one simple movement.

Raise the helmets