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Nowhere else

Michelle Otto | Friday, September 10, 2004

“Notre Dame knows how to do football.” My boyfriend’s mom asked about ND football weekends, and this is how he responded to her question. Even though he goes to Purdue and has only been to one ND football game here, he could sum up my descriptions with those words.I spent Labor Day weekend at Purdue with my boyfriend and his family. Not only did I spend the weekend getting to know his parents a bit more, but I was also reacquainted with the college football experience by going to their game. And what I encountered at Purdue made me realize that the Notre Dame football Saturday belongs in a world of its own – a world of purity that I cannot explain.When we showed up for the game on Sunday, Purdue’s stadium area was overwhelmed with commercial vendors selling food, competing radio stations blaring music, and what overall seemed to me to be mass chaos. I stood there in a kind of confused astonishment thinking to myself, “Where’s the dorm BBQ stands and the bag-pipers?” The place felt contaminated by an alien invasion as I visualized the simplicity of our campus surrounding a football game.As we look towards our first football weekend of the season, I look forward to much more than the game. I cannot wait for the hoards of alumni and fans that simply stand around South Quad chatting and playing football starting at 9 a.m. I cannot wait for burnt hot dogs and hamburgers from dorm concessions stands. I cannot wait for the “concert on the steps” and the subsequent “march out” that leads us all, like the Pied Piper, into the Stadium. This is only a sampling of the events that I can count on when a football weekend arrives.Each of these events is what makes the ND football experience different; they are traditions. While at Purdue, I waited for my boyfriend to tell us about their traditions; to say, “Well, we can go to this while we wait”, or “There’s always this to do”, as ways to entertain us tourists. Besides trying to track down the giant Boilermaker and catch a ride on it, though, I was not aware of many customs comparative to what I see here. I don’t mean to knock the Purdue football experience at all; I had a great time. But what I learned from it was that there is something unique about the place that the ND campus transforms into on home football weekends; it is something simple and special that causes people to say that we know how to “do” football. As for my boyfriend, he may appreciate the ND football experience, but he is still a Purdue fan. After all, I only gave half his quote earlier. The statement above was followed by the comment, ” … but they don’t know how to play it” … which earned him a slap in the stomach.