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Alum’s perpective on fan negativity

Maribeth Meaux | Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I am appalled at the behavior of the ND fans this season, especially the intense negativity of my fellow alumni. I have deep ties to the University; my four brothers and I all graduated from ND and my daughter is currently a student and a member of the band. I have lived through many less than stellar football seasons, but I cannot recall cruelty like this on the part of the fans.  Since critical voices are frequently louder than those of the true believers, I feel compelled to make my voice heard…

During the Michigan State game, I sat in the end zone facing Touchdown Jesus among a group of younger alumni. Before the kick off, several alumni “fans” began criticizing the individual players and the coaches and commenting about how pathetic the team was this year. (Most of their remarks were full of expletives that I don’t care to repeat.) I tried to tune them out; as a fierce and loyal fan, it was painful to listen to their malicious banter. I actually thought I might be more comfortable sitting with the Michigan State fans! I guess my upbringing as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan taught me a thing or two about staying faithful to a team in good times and in bad.

Anyway, here is what I believe:

Every one of our players puts his whole heart and soul into their performance at every game. These guys strive for excellence everyday and they should be commended for their tremendous effort. They have an intense desire to win football games for themselves and for the University. Just watch some YouTube videos of the player interviews – especially those of Louis Nix – and you will see some of the passion for winning and excellence all the players share. They all have flaws, but they all work to overcome them on a daily basis. Tommy Rees never claimed to be an elite quarterback; he just humbly goes out there and does what the coaches ask him to do to the best of his ability. To viciously attack Rees for some unfortunate mistakes is immature and counter-productive. Undermining his confidence and demoralizing him will not help win ball games.

In the words of Troy Niklas, “We are all just organisms fighting and striving to endure.” The players all deserve our support in times of adversity, not our condemnation, as they “strive to endure.”  I believe that all of our players are capable of greatness and we have seen glimpses of that greatness in every game so far. One of the best things about watching the Irish play is anticipating that next awesome display of talent and heart.

Yes, football is just a sport so there will always be mistakes and questionable calls and bad luck. Last year’s undefeated season was a gift to all the fans, but that was a rare and magical occurrence that will not be duplicated anytime soon.

As graduates of this great University, we should be ready to embrace adversity, see it as a challenge, and then move forward with hope as we face the future. Granted, football is just a game, an exciting diversion for the fans. But, for the players it is life, it is their future.

Perhaps the ND Band provides the perfect example of the behavior all fans should emulate. They support the team with enthusiasm all game long. Then, after each home game, in victory or defeat, they head out of the stadium in perfect precision. Their stoic faces do not betray their inner emotions as they march to the drum cadence. As they approach the Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall, they break into their signature trot and start chanting encouragement for a victory over the next opponent. After our painful loss to Oklahoma last Saturday, the band members reminded us to set our sights on a new day and look with hope and optimism towards the next challenge.


Maribeth Meaux  
Class of ’83
Oct. 1