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Fans will support a winning or losing team

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, December 1, 2004

This is Notre Dame. It was more than a slogan that attracted me to Notre Dame. I was attracted to what that slogan stood for. Notre Dame was a place that fostered integrity and character. However, yesterday’s actions by the administration indicate that Notre Dame has lost some of its luster.

When I arrived on campus as a student in the fall of 1999, I was introduced to the Notre Dame Family. There was a common bond that linked everyone associated with the University. As you walked around, you could feel the camaraderie and spirit that filled the campus. And when the football team took the field on Saturday afternoons, they had more than 80,000 family members supporting them and cheering them on.

That was Notre Dame. The administration decided to take action and restore the football program to the glory of old. However, in doing so, the administration has risked losing Notre Dame’s defining characteristics: integrity and character.

A recent study indicated that Notre Dame is the most popular football team in the country. One would think that our less-than-stellar performance on the football field would turn fans away, yet they keep coming back. What is it that draws fans all across the country to root for Notre Dame? It can’t be our winning record because surely there have been more successful teams over the last few years. So what is it? What makes Notre Dame different?

Before yesterday it was Notre Dame’s integrity and character that separated it from every other program. It was that common bond, the Notre Dame Family. Our actions toward Coach Willingham were not actions of integrity and character. They were actions of arrogance and impatience. The administration fired one of Notre Dame’s most zealous advocates of integrity and character. Apparently the chance at earning a BCS birth and the money that comes with it has swayed the administration.

I still believe Notre Dame is a special place, and could once again become a football powerhouse. However, over the coming weeks, as the search for a new coach begins, let us not lose sight of what made Notre Dame so great.

Michael Zingale


class of 2002

Dec. 1