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viewpoint

Why we weren’t at the Bowl game

| Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Notre Dame Band was ready for the Fiesta Bowl: We’d been rehearsing and preparing for the bowl game for months. We were excited to represent our school and play the greatest of all university fight songs for the Notre Dame family. So, we were taken by surprise when, less than a day before most of us were supposed to leave, they suddenly canceled our flights, our appearances and all our events. Officially, the cancellation was a health precaution for the safety of the school. But as we watched fans, students, alumni and University leadership — some of whom have been less diligent than us about following pandemic precautions — converge on Phoenix while we sat at home, we couldn’t help but wonder why. 

We haven’t had a single COVID-related pause in two years of the pandemic and were able to successfully complete two regular seasons. We were proud and lucky to get through last year; with hard work and careful attention to protocol, our season was incredibly successful compared to a lot of other bands in the country. Our successful record makes us even more surprised by this sudden decision to cancel without warning or explanation when other bands are playing at their bowl games in front of full stadiums.

Notre Dame is notably the only school in a New Year’s Six bowl to decide that the band was too much of a risk. Other schools tested and isolated positive cases and contacts, coordinated transportation together, and did what they needed to do to make sure their bands could be there. We would have been happy to test, to isolate — whatever was needed to perform. We give our all to this organization, and if that means sitting alone in a room for five days, that’s what we’ll do, proudly and happily.

We don’t do what we do for recognition, or even for trips like this. We do it because we love this school and because we genuinely believe that Notre Dame’s music is a necessary and appreciated part of the culture here. We hold ourselves to high standards of commitment and professionalism because of that belief. So, when all our plans were canceled 12 hours beforehand with a single email and no follow-up information, we didn’t just lose a trip. We lost months of effort and sacrifice, and we lost them without any explanation or warning that the decision to cancel was even under consideration. We understand that the administration is working to minimize COVID risk. But we also hope that they understand what playing the Victory March means for us, the football team and Irish fans everywhere, and we hope they recognize why we feel taken for granted when all our efforts can be deemed too much of a risk with a single, last-minute email. 

In an effort to understand this decision, we ask that the school give us more transparency about the timeline involved. Some of us were already on planes to Phoenix when the news was sent out — was the decision to cancel really so last-minute that these people couldn’t have been given a heads-up before they boarded? We also ask that the school provide a more in-depth explanation of their reasoning for canceling. We know this decision was not made lightly, and we know it was made with the consultation of trusted health officials. We would like to hear the input of these officials in an attempt to better appreciate to what extent this cancellation contributes to campus health and safety. As stated above, we’re happy to do whatever we can for this school — because of COVID, sometimes that means accepting canceled events, and we understand that. But these cancellations naturally involve a major loss of time, effort and commitment on our part, and in our disappointment, we would really like to simply be assured that they are worth that loss.

Members of the Notre Dame Band, 

Mary Polking

senior

Calvin Oppenheim

fifth-year

Austin Booth

senior

Maggie Milligan

senior

Mary Lusebrink

senior

Christian Boekhout

senior

Dante Komater

junior

Jennifer Tennant

junior

Lincoln Bargender

senior

Alberto Sbrolla

senior

Elijah Grammer

senior

Kenan Lumantas

senior

Connor Wozniak

senior

Erik Meier

senior

Tommy Nowak

senior

Jan. 11

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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