Mike Gotimer | Thursday, November 12, 2009
I love America.
I think it’s the greatest country in the world, and I would never want to live anywhere else.
As a result, I have the utmost respect for our troops and those who plan to eventually serve in the military.
I feel like I have to say this as a disclaimer because if your reaction to my next statement is anywhere near as hostile as the one I got from those seated around me at the game on Saturday, you’re probably going to be appalled by it.
We’re too nice to Navy’s football team.
I understand why we respect Navy, and I have no problem with it. Obviously, almost all of their players who took the field on Saturday will be fighting for our country after graduation rather than playing in the NFL or applying for jobs, and we should respect that.
Historically, Notre Dame also owes a debt of gratitude to the Naval Academy for helping us stay in business during World War II when the Navy used Notre Dame as a training center and paid enough rent to help keep the school afloat during the war.
We honor them for this by playing them every year in football.
Clearly, our two institutions share a special relationship, and Navy is probably the only team on our schedule that we can consider more of a friend than a foe.
What’s lost in all of this is that despite the tremendous amount of respect that exists between the two teams, the Midshipmen run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium with one thing in mind.
They want to beat us just as badly as USC or Michigan. In fact, with the exception of those Jesuits from Boston, they may want to beat us more than any other team since they only have two wins in their last 45 tries against us.
This isn’t to say that our Fighting Irish would rather let Navy win than beat them. It simply means that there is something special about our football team and our school that makes any team that comes to South Bend hungry for a victory in historic Notre Dame Stadium.
It means that as a fan base, we need to be just as loud in the game against Navy as we are against any of our other rivals.
Now this doesn’t mean that we should tell Navy to “suck it” or that we need to boo them. It also doesn’t mean that we don’t have to honor guests like wounded soldiers or veterans that the university may have invited to attend the game.
Rather, we should cheer on our team with as much passion as we always do against our historically powerful opponents to try to give the Irish what many refer to as one of the best home field advantages in college football. And at the end of the game, once the Irish have a victory safely in hand, we should walk to midfield, congratulate our opponents on a good game, and, in the case of Navy, continue the long tradition of singing each school’s alma mater with each other.
It’s a formula that’s worked in the past that should undoubtedly work in the present. It’s a formula that makes us Notre Dame.