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Reactions to the Sorin Boycott

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I will never forget the most fun I ever had at a pep rally as an Otter of Sorin College.

It just so happened to be one that we hosted. In what ended up being Ty Willingham’s final pep rally, Ty proceeded to do a role call of the host dorms. In the usual scripted and expected form, the dorms each tried to make as much noise as possible. However, when Ty called for noise from the Otters of Sorin, he was greeted with nothing but dead silence from us. Confused, he called us again, but we stood firm in our silence much to the amusement of the rest of the JACC and the players. Thinking a third time would be a charm, he moved on, called the rest of the dorms, came back to the Otters whom again stood in silence.

Think about that story for a second. My favorite memory of a pep rally was one in which I stood in dead silence. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

The fact is the pep rallies in the JACC are a complete joke and we all knew it. Sorin standing in silence was the most spontaneous and unexpected act that I can ever remember actually happening at a pep rally (we actually “planned” this on the way there).

The pep rally should serve to get the players and student body hyped up for the game, and not the current Disneyland production that we have today.

As a student, they felt like nothing more than a huge waste of time. As an alum, I still do not want to go into the JACC for another one. As a former Otter, I salute all current Otters in Sorin College for your pep rally manifesto. You have hit the nail square on the head.

As a former member of the Norte Dame family, I encourage all members of the student body to support Sorin in their effort and to stand with them outside the JACC. This is your pep rally. Take it back. As one of many Notre Dame alumni, I encourage those of you on campus this weekend to support the Otters of Sorin as well.

Forgo the dog and pony show and let the current students see your support outside the JACC. We should give them nothing but our support for trying to bring back true fire and passion to our pep rallies.

Ryan Ritter

alum

Class of 2007

Oct. 3

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Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This past Friday evening, I attended the pep rally for the Stanford game at the Joyce Center with a Notre Dame classmate of mine. It was pitiful. Scripted and spiritless, the thing was painful to sit (and I do mean sit) through. It was light years from the raucous rallies of my undergraduate days. I left thoroughly disheartened, and doubt that I will ever attend one again.

Our experience started when our choice of seating was challenged by an usher. Apparently, we were in a section reserved for ND parents only if their students were with them. (Fortunately, one of my sons was with us.) After being thwarted by our legitimacy, the usher proceeded to eject two men and their young sons from the mostly empty section. A great ND moment for them, don’t you think?

We were then “treated” to a program of pre-fab cheers, videos and introductions of our Olympic athletes. It seemed like 30 minutes before the actual football team made it’s calm, gentlemanly appearance.

During the rest of the event, it was sometimes difficult to tell the team members from the old, tired alumni who were sitting on their hands behind them. That’s how bored they looked and justifiably so.

The momentary exception was when Jimmy Clausen, Terrail Lambert, Pat Kuntz and Kyle McCarthy got up to talk. They were terrific, but could not rescue the event from the stranglehold of civility, or from their own head coach’s passionless, stupefying remarks. Charlie sounded more like he was offering a statement to the media than attempting to inspire anyone.

In days of yore, when I was an undergraduate, rallies were held in the Stepan Center. There was no sitting down because there were no chairs! The rally began when the band, cheerleaders and team entered the building. Lots of jumping, screaming, fist pumping and cheering. Girls held up on guys’ shoulders. The program was led by the leprechaun, and featured short, impassioned talks by two current players and two ND legends, either ex-players or other fiery notables like Digger Phelps. Sometimes Stepan Center was so packed, and the crowd so fired up, that condensation dripped from the ceiling! (Gross, I know, but gives you the true flavor of the event). It concluded with the fight song. The whole thing took 30 minutes.

Here’s what it didn’t include: reserved seating, ushers, players in suits, “host” dorms, videos, cheers led by the executive director of the Alumni Association, introduction of non-football folks, or the Alma Mater.

Listen, I think Chuck Lennon is one of the greatest Notre Dame men alive. Our Olympians are amazing and a true source of pride. I love the Alma Mater so much that I can’t hear it without tears coming to my eyes. But these things have no place at a football pep rally!

The sole purpose of a football pep rally is to get the team and students fired up to go beat the crap out of Saturday’s opponent. Period.

That’s what they were all about when I attended Notre Dame, and I don’t think that my classmates or I are any the worse for it. And, oh yeah, our teams played with passion on Saturday.

I concur entirely with Sorin College men Aidan McKiernan and Tristan Hunt who wrote in Friday’s Letter to the Editor entitled Our Pep Rally Manifesto, “Pep rallies should involve only three groups – the students, the band and the team. Pep rallies should be of the students, by the students and for the students. This means parents, alumni and outside visitors aren’t invited. If they want to come, they’re more than welcome – but they’ll be one of us, not a polite guest at our show.” Amen, brothers! I am both ND alumnus and ND parent.

What I want to see when I come to a football pep rally is a team and student body ready to tear it up on Saturday. Nothing else. That’s the way it used to be, and that’s the way it should always be.

Return the pep rallies to the students!

Go Irish!

Mike Schafer

alum

Class of 1982

Oct. 6

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Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Once a year my brother, father and myself travel over 800 miles from Burlington, Vt. to attend the pep rally, watch the game, and ultimately enjoy the whole ND experience. This is a tradition I hope continues for as long as I live, and I hope someday I will be able to bring my children out to ND.

Unable to get in to Notre Dame as an undergrad and still unable to get in as a graduate, it shocks me to hear of students “boycotting” the pep rally because of too many Group Performances and not enough interaction with the players.

I truly don’t think those student understand how lucky they are. It’s hard to even describe the feeling I have knowing I will never be able to attend Notre Dame, and yet those who are fortunate enough will look back and remember they boycotted pep rallies. It makes no sense to me, and I feel sorry for those students. Perhaps those students should realize that those who are performing take what they do just as seriously as the football players. Obviously it doesn’t gather as much attention, but they also deserve the respect of the student body.

Enjoy Notre Dame.You have no idea how lucky you are.

Bryan Fortier

Chicopee, Mass.

Oct. 7

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Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

OK! Here comes one from a cranky old alum (Zahm ’82) who believes everything was better “back in the day.” Well, maybe not. I don’t believe everything was better in the early ’80’s.

Notre Dame is a much better academic instition than when I matriculated. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t get in today. The food’s a lot better in the dining halls. I was really impressed by South Dining Hall when I dropped my step-daughter off for her freshman year in August.

Now that I’ve spread some sunshine, I feel a need to rail! Pep rallies have become so sanitized I can’t even attend them any longer. It sounds to me like the students can’t stand them either. They are “corporate” beyond recognition. The last one I attended felt like an annual shareholders meeting – a couple of interesting guests, but far too much hackneyed “blah, blah, blah.”

My recommendation is that the pep rallies need to be given back to the students. Let’s start with an utterly bizarre idea. Let’s go back to the Stepan Center.

If you really want to attend, get there early. If you don’t get in the door, your loss. I will guarantee that it will be spontaneous, erratic, wild, fun and – get this – inspiring to both the team and fans. What a great juxtaposition to tickets, boring, under-attended and – get this – unispiring to both the team and fans. Give it some thought. I actually feel sorry for Charlie and the team having to endure more canned rallies with insipid speaches. The team seems to be turning it around. Maybe pep rallies should be re-invigorated as well.

Jeff Barber

alum

Class of 1982

Oct. 6

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Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 7, 2008

As a transfer student from Northwestern, I can assure you that Notre Dame’s undying school spirit is one of the things that make our school wonderfully unique. Even though Northwestern is a Big Ten school with a Division I football team, the year I was there the school had only one pep rally for the season in a venue similar to our Washington Hall.

The enthusiasm at that rally was forced and the spectacle was awkwardly confined to a proscenium stage. I can understand how you might see our pep rallies as formulaic and more of a show than a rally, but that is no excuse for turning your back on a very special Notre Dame hallmark. Keep in mind that much of the pomp and circumstance that come before the football team, like speeches by former players, video clips, and cheerleader performances, is to remind us that the Irish football team that we cheer for on Saturdays comes from a long tradition of greatness. Hopefully that reminder will inspire us to cheer them on to become another one of those immortal teams. Notre Dame pep rallies are about bringing together ALL of us who love Notre Dame. We go every Friday not just to support Irish football, but to celebrating everything that makes Notre Dame, Notre Dame.

I know that Sorin and those who chooses not to go are just as spirited as everyone else, so please go to the rallies and scream your hearts out for what you and I know is the best school in the country. I agree that it would be great to have more interaction with the football team. The fact that they got out of their seats and started a few cheers this season is a small step in the right direction. If you think that the rallies’ formats need to be changed, talk to the administration and the rally coordinators to find ways to make the rallies better, but please show up.

By boycotting you are hurting the team, you are hurting our university, and you are missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity for yourself that you are incredibly fortunate to have.

Connor Kobeski

junior

Siegfried Hall

Oct. 7