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Clemson: So much more than a game

| Friday, November 6, 2020

The 2020 football season is one which has been viewed with extra scrutiny across the entire country, yet, HERE we are entering Week 10 with a primetime matchup between the No. 1 and No. 4 teams in the country. Yet, in spite of all of the hype surrounding this game on the field, it is important to remember the struggles we have faced off the field as a Notre Dame community.

On Oct. 24, our community was devastated with the untimely loss of two of the newest members of our family in Valeria Espinel and Olivia Laura Rojas, from Ecuador and Bolivia respectively, as well as the serious injury of a third member. We’ve survived a two-week shutdown of all campus-related activities at the beginning of the semester. The entire student body has been experiencing various forms of stress-related issues with the lack of a fall break causing constant burnout. Add that to the fact we find ourselves in an election year (as an international student, I can’t vote, but there is still a lot on the line), social tension and racial injustice in the country remains at an extremely high level and Notre Dame has made the headlines in more ways than one. Compound this with the unique personal struggles that each and every single individual has been facing in their own lives over the last 11 months, to say this year has been challenging would be an understatement.

So let me take this opportunity to say that I am proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself for rising up to these challenges and making the most of the situation in which we find ourselves. Remember to cut yourself some slack, and know that whatever your grades are at the end of the semester, you’re living through one of the most unpredictable times in the history of humankind.

The football game this weekend represents so much more than a chance to put a marker down for the remainder of the season, extend our 22-game unbeaten streak at home or achieve a better result than the 2019 Cotton Bowl CFP game.

Rather, this game is about the unity that exists among the Notre Dame family, the same one that has existed throughout the decades. Yes, I know we haven’t won a National Championship in football since 1988. I know people dislike that we boast about how incredible this place is. And I know that we are a University that can often split opinions. However, this place is truly special, and I’m asking for you all to show exactly why that is this weekend. We may only have about 10,000 people in the Notre Dame Stadium, but I need everyone to understand that no matter the number of people who are present in the stadium, we are connected to millions of fans across the country and around the globe who are all attached to this special place.

This is arguably the biggest home game we have had since Georgia in 2017 (Michigan runs a close second, personally), and on that day, I saw a sea of red in Notre Dame Stadium that still pains me to this day. There are so many people who dream of being in the position in which you find yourself today. To watch college football in Notre Dame Stadium is the stuff that dreams are made of. When our team takes that field Saturday, regardless of which players we are facing, I am urging you to give it all you have in support of our team. Each week as I gaze up at the stands (while trying not to fall off the wall), it frustrates me to see individuals sitting down looking at their phones while the opposition is pushing on third down or when I hear booing about the decision of the team to wait out the clock and finish the game against Louisville without another push for a touchdown. At the end of the day, the fact remains: We are 6-0, and we have the longest current winning streak in the FBS.

We’ve had a year. But as we come to the close of the semester, may I remind you that this is the last game at which we will be present. This is the last game at which the class of 2021 will sway to the alma mater while overlooking a team that has given their all. I am imploring you to give it everything you have this weekend when supporting the team, and no matter who steps on the field, what decisions are made or what the final score is, always remember this means so much more.

Saturday night, under the lights, in Notre Dame Stadium. Let’s do this. Let’s Rally.


P.s. Wear a mask, keep social distancing and be responsible. You don’t want to miss the game!

Conal Fagan


Nov. 2

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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