A response to ‘Not a serious program’

I read Ryan Peters’ “Not a serious program” column that appeared the week after the Marshall game. As an attendee at that game, I would like to make a couple comments relative to what is happening in the stadium during games. I agree with him that ND Stadium IS NOT INTIMIDATING.  It once was. I am a 1970 graduate. I have been in the stadium many years since. I believe it was in 1967 that legendary Southern California coach, John McKay, stated that Notre Dame Stadium was the worst place to play because of the noise level. That noise was created by human voices. We didn’t have a loudspeaker blaring electronic noise between plays. We were so loud the opposing team couldn’t run plays. As another example, several years ago I was sitting in the lower level in the southeast part of the stadium mixed in amongst Pitt fans. As the teams were warming up, a number of Pitt fans were having a great time carrying on about how Pitt was going to maul us. With the “kickoff cheer” and the subsequent roar from the student body and fans in the stadium, they looked shocked and surprised. They sat down, and there was hardly a whimper out of them for the rest of the game.

What is different? I submit that the use of electronic noise and piped in “cheering” has taken the student body, the fans and the band out of the game. I was at the Marshall game and was appalled at the lack of noise support from Notre Dame fans. I don’t believe the fault lies totally with them, however. The electronic noise took them out of the game from the start. While I like the lead up to the opening kickoff with Kathy Richardson and the Dropkick Murphy’s, it needs to be timed effectively so that the student body can let the opposition know it is a force. From the opening kickoff on, it seemed that the electronic noise was piped in between every play. It not only took the student body and fan cheers out of the game, the electronic noise also stepped on the announcer and the referees. In short, it became the game.

If Notre Dame wants to have an intimidating stadium, it needs to put the noise back into the student body, the band and its fans. We were constantly reminded in the weekly run-up to a home game that we were a part of the Notre Dame “team,” and that we needed to let the opponents know we were there. We believed our participation had an effect. I think it did. Opposing teams were intimidated. Our players told us that and thanked us.

If Notre Dame wants to fix the noise in the stadium, fix the electronics.

On another matter, we had first time guests with us. I was honored and excited to show them the campus, traditions such as the “Trumpets in the Dome” and take them to the Convo to the upper-level sports history displays. Even though both activities were promoted in pre-game materials and the game program, “Trumpets under the Dome” was a whimper by the statute of Sacred Heart, and the Condo was locked down so that no athletic displays could be visited. An attendant told us it was by order of the University.  So much for that.

David A. Redle

class of 1970

Sept. 20

The views in this letter to the editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


International students react to football culture, team’s defeat

First-year Gabrielle Benitez enjoys her first home game in the student section in Notre Dame Stadium / Courtesy of Gabrielle Benitez.

First-year graduate student Henry Kamugisha, originally from Uganda, was walking home after studying at the library late Friday night and was surprised to be intercepted by the Notre Dame band performing pre-football game festivities.

“I thought I had seen enough. More is attached to this football?” he said. “Then Saturday morning I woke up, getting out of my house, the whole environment had changed and I saw people everywhere.”

Kamugisha said he had never watched football before the game against Ohio State and was not immediately impressed.

“I didn’t understand anything because I was like, okay, is this relevant? It’s not relevant,” he explained.

While American students at Notre Dame often arrive on campus prepared for the intense culture of supporting the football team, international students like Kamugisha often have had no exposure to the atmosphere of college football in America.

Junior Yeowon Cho, originally from South Korea and an exchange student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, found herself confused about football’s rules.

“I’m actually going to this session called ‘Football 101’ [on Thursday night],” Cho said. 

The session, sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) team, invites “international students and friends” to learn about the essentials of American football and Notre Dame traditions, according to the ISSA website.

Testing expectations

First-year Ph.D. student Salvatore Riolo said he understood the rules of football before leaving Italy to study at Notre Dame due to a personal interest in the American way of life.

“I’m pretty obsessed with American culture, so even when I was in Italy, I used to watch the Super Bowl every year. So that’s why I know the rules to this kind of thing, and I was looking forward to the games,” Riolo explained.

Despite understanding football’s influence on American culture, Riolo said he was still surprised to see the size of the crowds on campus for the game against Marshall.

“I didn’t expect the amount of tourists around the campus,” he said. “People from outside and all the tailgates around, which is something very American.”

Sophomore Pedro Bolsonaro said he also knew the rules of football because he was a fan of the NFL while living in Brazil before coming to Notre Dame last year. Despite this, he said he hadn’t started following college football. 

“Last year I thought the NFL was more exciting for the better players, but throughout the year, I built that connection with the university and that kind of translated to how I see football now,” Bolsonaro said.

Cho enjoyed the home game against Marshall, despite its disappointing result.

“It was really energetic, I liked it,” Cho said. “But I had heard from my friend that they were like 99% sure that they were going to win against Marshall. I wasn’t that angry, but then it was sad to see people actually being so sad.”

Riolo said he was greatly disappointed in Notre Dame who, despite being ranked eighth in the AP college football rankings, lost to unranked Marshall.

“I thought I was going to see a very good performance. I didn’t know much about college football but I knew that Notre Dame has a very long and victorious history,” Riolo said. “I was kind of disappointed because the game wasn’t that good. The interceptions – that wasn’t what I was expecting.”

Kamugisha, having just begun learning about the sport, said he was sad to watch his new team’s defeat. “We haven’t recovered from it. I know we shall get over that, but yeah, it wasn’t good,” he said.

First-year Gabrielle Benitez, an international student originally from the Philippines who also had never watched football before coming to Notre Dame, said she felt similar.

“I don’t know why, but coming into this school, I had the notion that we’re like, undefeated and stuff,” she said. “But clearly, that wasn’t the case.”

Despite this, Kamugisha and Benitez spoke highly of the experience and sense of inclusion as new Notre Dame football fans.

“It was nice to be a part of that community that treasures the football team so much,” Benitez said.

Kamugisha said he felt supported by fellow Notre Dame fans as he watched his new favorite team and took part in gameday traditions.

“I think everyone here is supportive,” Kamugisha said. “They make you actually get taken up to love this game and to feel like, ‘yes, I belong here.’”

Contact Liam at


Notre Dame Tailgating for Dummies

Three years ago, bright-eyed me came into Notre Dame with no expectations for tailgating. I grew up in the suburbs of New York, aka no good high school football and absolutely no real tailgating. Well, unless you count Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

I had no one to guide me through the confusing lots of Joyce and Stadium or to explain the unwritten rules of tailgating. But now that I have mastered the art of tailgating, I am here to be your guide through the confusing and rambunctious experience that is a Notre Dame tailgate.

*Many of the acts listed below can help ND fans of all ages. I don’t condone underage drinking.*

What should I wear? 

It’s an absolute must to wear some kind of Notre Dame apparel. Don’t have any? Any combo of green, blue and gold will work. A lot of kids tend to wear The Shirt to the first game as it’s a loose tradition, but there is no pressure to buy one if you don’t own one. Plenty of students will be wearing other ND attire. 

Most men wear some kind of ND t-shirt or jersey, but I appreciate it when guys step out of their comfort zone and wear more creative ’fits.

Similarly, girls’ outfits vary from jerseys to Notre Dame crop tops and tennis skirts. As long as you’re supporting the Irish, it doesn’t really matter what you wear!

Of course, this changes past the second game, when the temperature starts to drop. If you still have it in you to wear cropped tops or skirts, have fun! But, if you’re like me and can’t stand the cold, I would recommend moving to jeans and an ND sweatshirt.

No matter what you wear, just make sure it is NOT the color of the opposing team.

What the heck does “Joyce 15” or “Stadium 32” mean? 

Good question. Joyce and Stadium are our two lovely tailgating lots. Now, you may ask, what do the attached numbers mean? The lots are established as a grid system — you will probably notice the large poles on every corner. Each poll has a flag with the lot you are in and a number to distinguish where in the lot you are.  You will eventually get a text from your friends and/or parents on where they are tailgating — either Joyce or Stadium, followed by a number.

Now that you know what it is, good luck navigating the large bodies of people. I would recommend staying either as close to the stadium or as close to the back of the lot as possible until you see the flag that you are heading towards. It will take hours to walk straight through the giant masses of people. Especially with a large group of people in tow. 

Now I’m at a tailgate … what do I do? 

This is where the fun really begins. The table provided will probably have a ton of free drinks and chips and dip galore. If you know the owner, it’s free reign, have fun. If you don’t, it probably is also free reign (but it never hurts to ask). There will be more alcohol and more food than you can ever imagine to finish off in the few hours before kickoff. 

There will also be tons of games, participate if you want but no pressure. Most family-oriented tailgates will have at least one game of cornhole set up. I would explain to you the rules … if I actually knew them. Don’t worry someone there will (just throw the bag and hope for the best). There will also be a table at most of these tailgates to play more traditional drinking games. Beer pong, flip cup and rage cage are the classics. And if you think the party is too lame, it never hurts to offer a round of “Rattlin’ Bog” to get the party starting again.

You don’t drink? No problem. Most tailgates have tons of food and nonalcoholic drinks! No one is going to force you to take any drinks. If they do, leave that tailgate immediately. They’re not the type of people you want to be around. 

Do I need to like or know football to go to the games? 

Absolutely not! That’s the fun part of it. I still don’t know the words to the fight song or the Alma Mater, and I swear they will still let me graduate!

As a first year, I surrounded myself with a group of people who were very passionate about football. While I was busy chatting or eating the stale popcorn, they would explain to me in (sometimes excruciating) detail what had just happened. And look at me, three years later not only working in the sports department of the Observer but covering our first home football game of the season!

(Don’t worry Aidan [the Observer’s sports editor], I have learned a lot of the rules since then … probably).

Olivia, what is one last thing you would recommend to a new tailgater? 

Eat food. You have a long day ahead of you. Even if you are not drinking, you will be standing on your feet in the sun for a large portion of the afternoon. Drink water, and eat lots of food. Your body will thank you later.

Also, have fun. I know, I know, super cheesy, right? But seriously, tailgating should be fun, and in no way stressful. You only have 24 home football games in your collegiate career, make each one last!

Olivia Schatz

Olivia is an associate sports editor. Contact her at


South Bend to Columbus: Students make trek for College Gameday

Students and fans alike traveled down to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend for the football season opener against the Ohio State University.

Sophomore Ryan Ludwig was part of this group and traveled to Columbus with some friends this past Friday in preparation for the football season opener Saturday.

After staying over at a friend from OSU’s house on Friday night, Ludwig said his day got off to a rough start.

“We went to College Game Day early in the morning [on Saturday],” Ludwig said. “There was a lightning delay which made it a little tougher.”

The ESPN pre-game broadcast was the highlight of Ludwig’s day outside the stadium, he said. The layout, however, was not his favorite part.

“As far as the gameday experience, I thought it is a little more difficult than Notre Dame because everything’s spread out and you have to walk around all over. Whereas, at Notre Dame, it’s all in
the same place right by the stadium,” Ludwig said.

Amidst a sea of red inside Ohio Stadium, the Horseshoe, Ludwig said he thoroughly enjoyed his view but not the atmosphere.

“I thought the stadium was [a] cool place to be,” Ludwig said. “It’s a loud, great environment, but I do like the Notre Dame student
section better. I couldn’t even tell where [the Ohio State] student section was.”

Ohio State fans are a notoriously rowdy group. Traveling Notre Dame students were well briefed on this fact before making the trek.

“I thought the majority of the fans were respectful. They treated us well,” said Ludwig. “After the game, when we were walking back to our car, just because we were wearing green, we got rude comments.”

Ailish Chambers, a Notre Dame junior, also made the trip to Columbus for the weekend.

She said she couldn’t help but notice the differences between the two schools’ game day cultures.

“[Game day] was not as intense at all. My friends didn’t even set alarms,” Chambers said.

Back on the home front, students gathered for a cookout hosted by Morrissey Manor before watching the game on South Quad, Morrissey resident Will Attig said.

“We made over 1,500 hotdogs and the turnout was great,” Attig said. “So many students and even their families were there too. [Game-watchers] stretched all the way back to the flagpole on South Quad. You couldn’t even see the end of people.”

Junior Adam Salek said he attended the game watch on South Quad for the second half.

“I saw six or seven futons that people brought outside to watch the game. I even saw a desk chair. People were bringing everything out there in massive groups. It was a lot of fun,” Salek said.

Salek attested to the engagement of the crowd during the nail bitter of a matchup.

Emily Houston, a first-year student, was another fan present for the game watch on the quad.

“Everyone was all in their game attire,” Houston said. “There were hot hogs being thrown around, everyone was screaming and chanting. We were all super excited to see the team out on the field,” she explained.

Houston said the dynamic changed when Ohio State took the lead.

“Everyone became a little gloomy,” she said. “But we still kept cheering them on because we want to be hopeful and stay hopeful and see what can happen.”

Peter Breen

Contact Peter at