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Saturday’s loss discourages students, fans

Meghanne Downes | Monday, November 3, 2003

Coach Tyrone Willingham said at Friday’s pep rally that Notre Dame students do not leave a game. However, at Saturday’s loss to Florida State, several gaps in the student section appeared.

Junior Joe Swiderski said he watched the Boston College game for three hours in front of a computer but he could not bear to watch the second half of the Florida State game. Disappointment eventually took over and he left in the third quarter.

“It is one thing to lose and play well and it’s another thing to lose by the worst margin of defeat in 30 years,” Swiderski said. “I don’t think that makes me a fair-weather fan … It’s so hard to watch the team not even being competitive.”

Saturday’s loss was the third time this season Notre Dame lost by more than 30 points and ranked as the ninth-worst defeat in school history.

The feeling of desperation prevailed during the third quarter in the student section as students did traditional touchdown push-ups for first downs.

The overall feeling from most students was one of disappointment, but several students chastised fans who left during the game.

Senior Derek Podolny said though he expected the eventual outcome he was upset by the disappearance of alumni and students in the third quarter.

“It’s a matter of seeing how truly fair-weather fans we are or have that people aren’t willing to accept even one losing season and support the team through that season,” Podolny said.

The trickle of students leaving the Stadium increased throughout the second half and a sparse student section remained to sing the alma mater and the fight song. It appeared as though the senior section seemed the most deserted, while the freshman section remained full.

Sophomore Rebecca Eckstein said that despite the team’s drastic turnaround from last year’s 10-3 season is disheartening, she remained at the game.

“I thought we could continue the success,” Eckstein said. “I feel like whether we are winning or losing it’s still our team.”

Senior John Dee said Saturday’s performance was disappointing for both the fans and the team and acknowledged the team’s hard work and failure to put the pieces together.

“I’m a senior and I wanted to stay for as much of the game as I could and as fans we expect the team to do well and we need to be there to support the team,” Dee said. “We need to support the team and be there to support them and if they are playing in an empty stadium we can’t expect them to do well.”

Signs of student disillusionment were evident earlier in the week as more than 300 students braved rainy weather to exchange their student to general admission. Several were turned away as the demand exceeded the allotted 300-ticket exchange.

Senior Michael McBirnie said although he sold his ticket for Saturday’s game for a personal reason, he does intend to attend the remaining games in the season.

“I had another thing to do, but [the game] was not much of a sacrifice,” McBirnie said. “I still think we can pull in some more wins.”