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Class is not tradition

Stephen Rehagen | Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lost in recent debate is the fact that Notre Dame is not a university bound to tradition.

If we adhered to all of our past traditions, our players would still be wearing leather helmets, Notre Dame Stadium would be three-quarters its current size, we wouldn’t have “The Shirt,” and we’d still be running the wishbone (which most alumni would rather see than a modern spread offense).

Times change, and so does tradition. Nearly every other major collegiate football team has a Jumbotron. I’m pretty sure every other football stadium pumps in music.

And not only do other schools give out towels, but they distribute T-shirts to coordinate the color of the crowd.

And guess what: so does Notre Dame. That’s right: several of our own teams play under the Purcell Pavilion’s Jumbotron, some play on artificial turf, and to my knowledge, music is blasted through the loudspeakers at every non-football sporting event at Notre Dame.

Why does Notre Dame — and other schools — participate in this madness?

Well, maybe because it works. While our football team has won only fifteen of its last thirty-one home games, partially thanks to our apathetic crowd, our other sports teams actually win games, conferences and national championships.

Not only do they win, but they represent the University proudly, usually with student-athletes who seem to make better grades and seem to deal with fewer suspensions and legal issues than their football counterparts.

So what is tradition anyway? For Notre Dame, all tradition means is winning. “Class” is not tradition at Notre Dame. In the late 1980s, our players engaged in at least one fight per season, and our fans graciously welcomed strangers with profanity and violent bus rocking. Class was not even in their vocabulary, and no one seemed concerned.

Here’s the main point: tradition doesn’t matter. Class should matter, but if we’re winning, no one at Notre Dame cares about how opponents feel.

So if a Jumbotron, artificial turf and outside music give us the best chance to win, I’m all for it. Tradition be damned. Win, baby, win.

Stephen Rehagen


Knott Hall

Oct. 28