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Men’s Basketball

Carson: Notre Dame, Michigan should embrace unique rivalry

| Tuesday, March 22, 2016

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Seriously. How fun was that?

After 40 minutes of two rivals going back and forth, how could you not want more?

I sat through three games Friday with atmospheres that could best be described as lackluster. Yeah, a handful of fans from each of the participating teams were in attendance, but at the end of the day, they weren’t games fitting of the stage.

But Friday’s finale — a game that bled into Saturday, actually — was one more than befitting of it.

Sure, there were Irish fans in attendance Friday night in Brooklyn. There’s no doubting that. But when Notre Dame was introduced, it was the boos from the pro-Michigan crowd that drained out the cheers from the Irish section.

Junior guard Demetrius Jackson drives during Notre Dame’s 70-63 win over Michigan on Friday in Brooklyn, New York.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Junior guard Demetrius Jackson drives during Notre Dame’s 70-63 win over Michigan on Friday in Brooklyn, New York.

As a kid growing up, isn’t Friday night your dream? To walk onto a big stage, in front of fans that don’t like you, to rip their hearts out at the end of the night?

Throw aside all the declarations of “rivalries never end,” and do the same with the moral high horses. Sure, it’s an intricate rivalry with tons of underlying complexities — there’s no denying that. But please, stop pretending you’re better than each other.

Bring it back. It doesn’t matter if it’s hockey, basketball or, yes, football. These two need to play. Every year. In every sport.

Ask anyone who’s a college sports fan why they prefer college football or basketball to their professional counterparts. Hint: It has nothing to do with the quality of play.

You see, the NFL and NBA are great, but outside of a few moments every season, the unbridled passion you see just isn’t matched. It’s the one aspect in which the college game consistently beats its professional, franchised counterparts.

So when we have these great arenas and these great games that incite such incredible passion, why are we turning them away?

We’ve seen it down south, where Texas and Texas A&M stubbornly refuse to play on the gridiron, in the heartland with Kansas and Missouri and, yes, right here with Notre Dame and Michigan.

Junior forward V.J. Beachem takes the ball to the hole during Notre Dame’s 70-63 win over Michigan on Friday in Brooklyn, New York.Emmet Farnan | The Observer

Junior forward V.J. Beachem takes the ball to the hole during Notre Dame’s 70-63 win over Michigan on Friday in Brooklyn, New York.

They’re two fanbases that quite simply hate each other. Ask a “Michigan Man” to describe Notre Dame, and he’ll tell you the same thing an Irish fan would about him: The other side is a bunch of pompous idiots. It’s an almost entirely irrational hatred of another man solely because of the college he roots for.

And it’s fantastic.

So I have one request of Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick:

Get this series back on the schedule.

I don’t care if you have to pay the buyout to Ball State to free up a football game, or if it means forgoing a big-time preseason tournament on the hardwood.

This game, this series, this passion is worth doing whatever you can to save it.

Because in a world where the general public becomes more and more apathetic each year toward collegiate sports, we simply can’t afford for rivalries like Notre Dame’s with Michigan to fade into obscurity.

I don’t want my kids growing up in a world where the color maize isn’t detested in South Bend.

 

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.”At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer.A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa.When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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