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Challenge to the Notre Dame Alumni

Kyle Tennant | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dear Notre Dame Alumni,

On behalf of my fellow students, I would like to begin by saying we appreciate your concern. Notre Dame is unique because of the continuing care and involvement of its graduates, and you are certainly involved this football season by expressing your dismay at our perceived lack of spirit during home games. But, seriously, and I say this with all due respect: chill.

As a senior, I know my days of student section games are numbered (and I was also hoping I’d never write to The Observer again. Oh, well). As a loyal fan who doesn’t appreciate football as much while intoxicated, I can understand your dismay at our apparent lack of cohesion and fighting spirit. But as a senior and loyal fan, I know that soon, my time will be over, and someone else will be allowed a seat in that stadium. It will be someone else’s turn, and I will willingly go on and allow others to experience such a great tradition as Notre Dame football.

Now, about that tradition. My class will almost assuredly graduate as the ‘losingest’ class in Notre Dame history (which, to be honest, I kind of hope we do; it would really stink to lose at losing). Like a fellow senior said recently, we’ve seen no wins against USC, one against Michigan, and none at home against Navy. We’ve scheduled such “storied programs” as San Diego State, Syracuse, Washington State, Western Michigan and Tulsa. The best record we’ve seen so far is 7-6, and we were grateful for it. I’m from Ohio, and a loyal Bengals, Reds and Cavaliers fan, so I know how to handle such disappointment; but after four long years, it’s a pretty heavy load to bear.

I agree with you, I do. I wish our stadium could be so loud the opposing quarterback can’t hear himself think. I wish our student section could create an atmosphere so imposing that teams shake when they run out the tunnel. But there are 80,795 seats in that stadium, and last I checked, student tickets comprise 10,795 of them. While you’re looking at a despondent student section with a .425 winning percentage over the last four years, I’m looking at 65,000 Notre Dame alumni and fans sitting down on 3rd- and-three. Tucked away in our corner, we can only do so much. And the University hasn’t exactly been promoting a rowdy and raucous stadium, either. Between the gross overproduction of pep rallies, egotripping ushers who love to throw out Notre Dame students but refuse to act on a group of Purdue students in the student section (true story), and the extreme prejudice of excise police intent on spoiling the good time of anyone with a beer, I’d say it’s less the student section and more the system under which we try to cheer on our team. The promotion of a “family experience” subverts any and all attempts to shake down thunderlike objects. I’m glad parents bring their four-year-old kids, and octogenarians manage to last four quarters on seats not fit for a Michigan fan. But does that create an intimidating atmosphere? Not exactly. Is that our fault? Not exactly.

So go ahead and wish and reminisce about the days of Zorich and Bettis and Montana. I was born eight months after Notre Dame’s last national championship. I have done everything in my power to support my team the last four years. Most of the time, my Saturday evenings have been spent making up stories about “If only we’d passed more on second down,” or “Well, aside from those three touchdowns, our defense played pretty well.” Let’s be real: Notre Dame isn’t special because of football games. Football games are special because of Notre Dame. So please stop giving us finger-wagging lectures about how back in your day, the entire opposing team knew how you felt about their mothers. You had your time; now it’s ours. Soon, it won’t be mine anymore, either. And I will go gracefully into that goodnight, hoping that I don’t lose that $1,000 bet I made that Notre Dame will win a national championship by 2050. BK, I’m looking at you.

Kyle Tennant


Stanford Hall

Sept. 29