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Students, be better

| Monday, September 26, 2016

Dear angry mob,

As an alumni who does most football game watching via television or the internet, it is always great to see and hear the student section and observe the spirit and tradition of school pride that makes the Notre Dame student section a special place across all of college football. Listening from afar and hearing the chants to “fire VanGorder” did nothing to make the student section seem very special. Students, consider the father, friend, mentor, husband and human being on the receiving end of your “spirit.” Consider the negative and demoralizing impact on the entire defensive unit who undoubtedly feel overwhelmed and dejected by the situation, before your loud cheers come from on high.

Blame and vitriol rarely solve problems. Look at our political climate climate, racial tensions and antagonism with police officers. As members of Our Lady’s university family, you represent who we are today. Be better. Be loving. Be merciful.

Even now with the intent of the chanting a reality, it does not seem that this is how we should send off those who have devoted a great measure of dedication and sacrifice for our boys in Gold and Blue. The community that supports you and supports our football team is proud of who you are and who you are becoming. It is a great gift and blessing to be a member of the Irish family. We are called to fight for great things with virtue, thoughtfulness and love. When we have the next opportunity to support our coaches and athletes, let’s do it with the best we have to offer.


Dan Cook

class of 1996

Sept. 25

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Spencer Gordon

    We face the real possibility of missing a bowl game this season, and you want us to “Be merciful”? Is this a charity or is it a football program? It has been woefully apparent that VanGorder was not the man for the job since last season, and Coach Kelly kept dragging his feet until after this latest embarrassment. The students had every right to feel angry and fed up.

    If this team goes 5-7 and has to stay home during bowl season, are we supposed to “Be merciful” to Brian Kelly. Are we supposed to pat him on the back, hand him another paycheck, and assure him that there’s always next year?

    Keep the “love and mercy” talk in church, this is football. VanGorder was an employee of the University with a specific responsibility: a dominant (or at the very least, capable) defense. He failed at his job, and Coach Kelly has every right to find someone better (assuming Kelly survives this season). VanGorder shouldn’t feel too stung about his dismissal–it’s happened to him many, many times before.

    • CU

      There’s a huge difference between refusing to acknowledge problems and not treating the people who cause them like s**t. I’m a student and I was disgusted by the unsportsmanlike attitude the first time I saw the other team walk out on the field and my fellow ND fans scream “BOOOOOOOOOO!”. I love ND football as much as the next guy, but I’ve stopped going to games because the hype was too much for me. Maybe “love and mercy” should be changed to “human decency;” I think the word “mercy” has lost its meaning to some people and is now interpreted as some kind of cheesy cure-all that requires zero effort.

      • Tom Z.

        ” I love ND football as much as the next guy, but I’ve stopped going to games because the hype was too much for me.”

        The second part of that sentence disproves the first part. The problem is that we have too many “fans” that think they love ND football as much as the next guy, but get offended and mad by the actual fans that put this team above many other aspects of their life. You are not one of those people.

  • MC

    As a huge football fan and current student, I agree with this. I thought the chant was classless.

  • KD

    As a student that took part in the cheer, while still empathizing with Coach VanGorder, I disagree with the notion that the cheer was unmerciful. It is important to remember that sports is a different context than ordinary life, and actions need to be considered in that context. In sports booing the opponent is expected, and both the opposing team and the fans understand that what is being expressed is along the lines of “We resent you for standing in the way of our team winning this game, but we know its your job to play your best” and not “We do not recognize your human dignity and we wish you suffering and misfortune in your lives.” Perhaps this is most clear when an opposing player is injured during the game and the crowd gives him an ovation when he is able to get back up. Fans and players recognize that there are more important things than football. Similarly, the “Fire VanGorder” cheer was the students’ way of expressing discontent with the performance of the defense this season. It’s true that fans were publicly expressing their will for a man, husband, father, etc. to lose his job. But, that same man will still earn his million dollar annual salary and find another lucrative position soon. The sad reality is that his performance in his two and half seasons in South Bend, especially this year, has not earned him the position and pay he received at Notre Dame. I think even Coach VanGorder would admit this. College football is a business, and like any other business consumers of Notre Dame football have a right to express their dissatisfaction with the product they are paying for. Are there more polite places to express this unhappiness? Absolutely. But, there is no other place that the people with a say in the matter (Mr. Swarbrick and Coach Kelly) would be forced to listen and consider the feedback. Am I suggesting the chant caused Coach VanGorder’s firing? Not at all. Is it possible that the chant helped confirm to Coach Kelly’s idea that things needed to change. Definitely.