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Ashamed at Ann Arbor

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I love Notre Dame. I love our traditions and values. I love our football team. I loved being at the Big House and watching the Irish take down the number three team in the country. However, I was ashamed to be a part of our University for the first time when I was at the game.

I sat (or rather, stood) in the ND student section at Michigan Stadium, a great, energetic atmosphere great for rallying around our team and cheering them to victory, and, apparently, great for disgracing what Notre Dame is. Now, as it often is in these circumstances, it was a very small minority that ruined the experience for me and especially those sitting around us.

I am all for getting into the game, I love cheers for our team, I like the “Kill!” chant, I am even okay with the occasional “Michigan sucks!” What appalled me, though, were the direct attacks I heard against the Michigan players and fans. For instance, a young Michigan fan of about ten years old threw a beach ball into the ND student section, just passing along the fun, I thought. A fellow student, however, perceived it differently. Upset at what happened (a beach ball?) he first threatened the kid physical harm. Once he realized the boy was with his dad, he warned the father to watch his son because he was going to “get it,” not just once, but ongoing for about five minutes. I was impressed that the guy showed the courage to not retaliate.

That was only one instance that made me ashamed to be a part of this group, not to mention more F-bombs and hand gestures than I have ever seen, directed at the field in general, as well as innocent Michigan fans just watching the game. ND students apparently had a great number of ideas of things that we were going to do to them or that they should do to us that I need not mention but I’m sure we can all imagine. I would bet that the individuals yelling these things would not appreciate it if any of these actually did happen. Let me also mention that there were plenty of kids around us that were below high school age and undoubtedly heard much of what was said.

I hate that I was ashamed to be a part of the best student section in the world. I hate that the Michigan fans had far more class than the Notre Dame fans I was with. I hate that I can’t take pride in the outstanding reputation that Notre Dame (supposedly) upholds. I can now see why some people don’t appreciate everything that Notre Dame is, and how they can consider us snobby and arrogant.

And I can already hear the excuses coming back: “I was just getting into the game,” “I was drunk, so it wasn’t a big deal” or “They were saying that kind of stuff to me first.” These excuses are just as shallow as the statements shouted at the game. We (again, I say “we” loosely, as it was a minority) showed no class, no pride in Notre Dame. I imagine I am not the only one who feels this way, dejected by a few of my fellow students. But one of the greatest problems in life is not the evil people, but the good people that stand around and do nothing. That is why I write this, and that is why I encourage fans to check themselves and those around them, realizing that, especially at away games, we represent Notre Dame. I wish we could represent it how it really is: classy, mature, intelligent and victorious.

We have three more away games and six more home games. Let’s show the Notre Dame Spirit how it really is. Let’s respect our opponents in the stands as we pound them on the field. Notre Dame is truly a great place. I think we should act like it. GO IRISH!

Matt HaggertyseniorKeenan HallSept. 11