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When The Breaks Are Beating The Boys … ‘

Sienna Combs | Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Look, upperclassmen, I understand. I know that I wasn’t here for the 3-9 season; I know that I have not lived through the disappointment of the past three years from the student section. I don’t know what, if anything, I could reasonably expect from you in terms of confidence in or enthusiasm for our football team. But that doesn’t mean that anything less is expected of you in terms of being Notre Dame students.

Being a Notre Dame student means that you understand that you are a part of something bigger than yourself: you are a part of this University and the spirit of this University in a way that nobody else can be. Especially since you are upperclassmen, I can barely imagine how much this place means to you. Even if you continue to be unsupportive on Saturdays, I won’t question that. But I honestly just don’t understand how you can be so vitally linked to this University and then come out to the stadium for the game and completely miss the point.

How can you still be operating under the delusion that “Notre Dame Football” (or more accurately, the Notre Dame football experience) has anything whatsoever to do with football?!? It’s not about the football! It’s about the unity, it’s about the spirit, it’s about the love that people all over the country (and certainly all over this campus) feel for this University. It’s about being crazy, being unrelenting, it’s about being stubborn and biased and Irish. It’s about making the stadium go nuts every week simply because everyone there is crazy for Notre Dame. That is what makes this place so unique, and we students are responsible for maintaining it.

It’s not about football. But just for a second, let’s talk about football. Do you have any idea how much your lack of enthusiasm is a self-fulfilling prophecy? Every time you don’t cheer, it is that much easier for an opposing team to come into our house and go about their business as usual. Every time you don’t encourage the team, there is an Irish football player looking up and seeing that you don’t care. Every time you leave early, there is a football recruit sitting along the sideline seeing that the students here apparently aren’t going to support him, and that maybe all the talk about the intangibles of Notre Dame stadium were just more delusional talk on the part of our fan base. That is a recipe for football disaster.

I only ask two things of you. No. 1: Thank Brian Kelly. He and the entire football staff have so far assembled a recruiting class good enough to be ranked 5th in the nation even without the usual game day atmosphere. In addition, he has managed to motivate the team without the insane level of student support that any Irish coach should be able to expect (and that every previous Irish coach has had). Forget the wins and losses for a second — this is, and always was, a team in the process of a major rebuild. Coach Kelly has already bailed out the entire Notre Dame student population on two massive fronts. No. 2: Think about yourself as a Notre Dame student. You don’t have that many home games left. And after that last home game, you will never again stand in the student section and sing the Alma Mater. The years will pass, and I think you will come to realize that it doesn’t matter whether you were singing after a win or a loss. It matters that you were there, that you were a part of it, and that you sang.

Sienna Combs is a freshman. She can be contacted at scombs@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.