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Unruly fans hurt everyone

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I am profoundly disappointed to read of the inappropriate and classless behavior of a group of Notre Dame students at the recent Notre Dame/Michigan game (Andy Schor’s Sept. 13 letter to the editor). I attended the Notre Dame/Pitt game two weeks ago and was appalled by similar behavior from the Pitt students. There were many Notre Dame fans around me who behaved admirably. Many of my friends who are Pitt fans that were scattered around the stadium were similarly impressed with the behavior of Notre Dame fans and students that had made the trip to Pittsburgh. I was in the process of preparing a letter to the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh regarding the Pitt students’ behavior, but now I have no credibility to do so, and I am ashamed to be an alum of a University whose students, alumni and faculty take pride in the Catholic tradition. Maybe all the people who have complained about the ad emphasizing Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition will have their wish answered when Notre Dame decides to pull the ad because the University does not believe that the Catholic tradition depicted in the ad accurately reflects the values of its current students because of the behavior of a group of students.

There is a more practical and tangible effect of the inappropriate behavior described in previous letters to the editor. In any given stadium, there can be anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 potential employers, not to mention the television audience. I commented to the fans sitting near me at the Notre Dame/Pitt game that the Pitt students’ inappropriate and crude behavior will come to mind every time I see a resume with University of Pittsburgh listed under Undergraduate Education. I hope the students responsible for the poor behavior at Michigan think about the effect their behavior has had on themselves, their innocent classmates and the legions of alumni around the world. Any Notre Dame alumnus will tell you that we often have to defend Notre Dame to its detractors. Previously, the detractors have been jealous of all that Notre Dame has to offer to those of us lucky enough to be able to attend the University. Now, we are faced with the indefensible, inexcusable, inappropriate and crude behavior of a small but vocal few that have cast a pall on what otherwise could be an exciting season for Notre Dame football which ultimately would benefit the University, its students and alumni.

I enjoy the excitement of Notre Dame football and all the rivalries with worthy opponents like Michigan, and I encourage healthy support of the competition by fans of both competitors in any football game. I’m glad that the inappropriate behavior was limited to a small minority of the Notre Dame student body. I believe, however, that those responsible for the poor behavior owe an apology to their fellow students, Notre Dame alumni, faculty and administration and to the fans of the Michigan Wolverines. I look forward to attending several games this season and hope that the experience won’t be marred by childish behavior from individuals that are expected to be sufficiently mature to leave home and attend college in preparation for being productive and valued members of society.

Anthony Watson, M.D.alumnusClass of 1987Sept. 13