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The jumbotron factor

Ben Paine | Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shortly after graduating from Notre Dame in 2000 I moved to Los Angeles where I’ve spent the last ten years working on the television show South Park. My schedule allows me to travel to a fair amount of Notre Dame football games. I was at Yankee Stadium last year when we beat Army, and the Coliseum the following week when we snapped our eight game losing streak to USC. I passed on El Paso, but I did make the trip to South Bend for this year’s home opener against SFU, and I was part of the 114,804 in Ann Arbor last Saturday night.

Following our Irish the past 15 years to stadiums all over the country has helped me further appreciate our traditions. Our students united in a singular colored T-shirt, our crowd-surfing pushups after touchdowns, our beautiful stadium and campus — I love that we stand together after games, win or lose singing our alma mater, and I’m proud that we play our opponents’ fight song for their visiting fans. That’s just classy. That’s who we should always strive to be.

I had a moment of clarity Saturday night with 4:23 left in the 4th quarter: We need a jumbotron. Robert Blanton had just intercepted Denard Robinson’s pass in the end zone protecting our 24-21 lead. It was a huge moment in the game and should have been a big momentum shift.

But it wasn’t.

During the TV timeout, Michigan flashed clips from their glory years on their jumbotrons while blaring The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Two minutes of “dunt-dun-dunt-dunt-dunt-dunnnnn-duuuuuu” with 100,000 maize pom-poms in the air while they showed Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson highlights. My friend turned to me and said, “It’s as if they just scored a touchdown instead of throwing an interception.” He was right.

You know the rest. Three and out. They score to take the lead. When we scored with 30 seconds left there was still no quit in their fans. Their energy willed their team to victory.

The jumbotrons gave them that energy.

Ben Paine


Class of 2000

Sept. 13