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My not very sophisticated view

Bob Kessler | Friday, October 30, 2009

 Last November, two events occurred that nobody could have predicted a year (or two years, or three years) earlier. These two events have shaped the way that Notre Dame Fans, as well as all Americans, have thought about their current situation for the past year just as they have been instrumental in shaping the careers and hobbies of Glenn Beck and Tom Reynolds (a.k.a. Irish Linebacker).

The first event was the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Depending on your political disposition, his election was akin to either the second coming of the messiah or the beginning of the apocalypse (at least everybody agreed that it was the Book of Revelation).

The second event (or events, I should say) struck much closer to home for the Notre Dame community. A year ago this week the Fighting Irish football team was 5-2 and about to start a stretch of games that many thought could lead to a New Year’s Day Bowl appearance (sound familiar). Reaching its climax with the team’s monumental loss to Syracuse, last November’s 1-4 record (one of the worst non-2007 months in program history) sent bands of alums to pull out torches and pitchforks after Swarbrick failed to give Coach Weis the pink slip. 

Just as these events transpired in unexpected ways, they also generated unanticipated responses from people that intimately follow and are interested in the issues of politics and Notre Dame football. 

The election of Barack Obama, the man who emphatically spoke about bringing together a divided nation, further separated the two sides of American politics with the opposition party even more hostile than in previous years. While it’s tough to dispute the notion that Democratic leaders in 2007 were rooting for our soldiers to fail during the Iraq surge, conservative leaders such as Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh have seemingly been rooting for terrorist attacks since the day Obama took office.

Likewise, while the abysmal results of last November’s football games rightfully caused Irish Nation to question the coaching abilities of Charlie Weis; it is shocking to see the desire that some in the Notre Dame community have for our team to lose games. In the same way that partisan pundits have been senselessly rooting against recent administrations’ efforts to help and protect Americans, many Irish fans are seemingly rooting for the football team to lose more games so that Mr. Swarbrick is presented with irrefutable evidence that Coach Weis must be dismissed.

Ground zero of this baffling movement is Rock’s House at NDNation, where anti-Weis support has grown louder than the anti-Obama crusade at Fox News. Supposed Notre Dame fans make ridiculous statements that indicate a hope for football losses just as news commentators such as Glenn Beck seemingly hope that the swine flu epidemic makes reality what ABCs “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” made-for-TV disaster film made entertaining (lucky for me, I received my swine flu vaccine from the ever more trustworthy Chinese government). 

The most upsetting similarity between our partisan political problems and rooting for Notre Dame losses, however, is the false premise that if the leadership fails now it is more likely to be replaced later, and the new leadership will have a better chance of succeeding given an even worse situation created by the very failure these groups are currently promoting (Are you confused yet, because I certainly am). 

In actively rooting against President Bush, liberal commentators like Keith Olbermann placed unrealistically high expectations on President Obama that he has come nowhere close to fulfilling. If the Bush administration had failed to the degree that Olbermann was hoping for, Obama would have stepped into office facing even more difficult decisions to make regarding Iraq in addition to Afghanistan (decisions he doesn’t seem pressed to make). Even Bush’s small victories improved the situation for Obama just as each of our football team’s victories this season will impact future seasons. The 2012 football season will be far more difficult for Weis, Brian Kelly, Jon Gruden or whoever is coaching the team by then if a 7-5 or 8-4 record this year results in recruiting deficiencies. 

Our ability to foresee what coach, players, or schedule it will take to achieve a national championship is about the same as our ability to foresee the next kooky change that will be made to the Facebook interface.

Because of this I propose that we less ardent, flinching and undercaffeinated Irish fans refuse to treat Rock’s House as a true fan’s forum. The board often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the radical Irish contingent that believes Utah is a bad football opponent and hopes Coach Weis will develop medical issues forcing him to resign. We can’t have the Blue-Gray Skies and Cartier Fields of the blogosphere basically be led by Rock’s House. We should cheer for wins no matter how much some fans hope for losses, and we should be happy about wins regardless of the final score or quality of opponent (unless said opponent is Washington State or Western Michigan). 


Bob Kessler is a 2009 graduate and the writer of Things Notre Dame Students Like. You can read more of his work at www.the17thgrade.com, and you can contact him at [email protected] However, he will only respond to criticism about this column if he is granted a handle for Rock’s House.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.