Okay, now I know many of you are going to accuse me of jumping on the bandwagon and acting like all the other moronic fans who once kicked this team while they were down but you have to trust me. I have liked this team my whole life and while not a hardcore fan by any means, I am ecstatic by an undefeated record through 6 games and a #5 ranking in the BCS rankings. I am talking of course about the Notre Dame football team.
When it comes to intercollegiate athletics, I only bleed two colors: Maroon and Silver. I am a diehard Montana Grizzly and no other school can come close to matching the passion, pride, and love I have for UM. However, as Montana does play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), I do take the liberty to choose a FBS team to root for as well. Every Saturday while I am engaged in either working our home games or standing on the sidelines at our away games, I make it a point to take a look at how the Fighting Irish are doing. If the Griz game that week doesn’t overlap with the Irish game, you can bet that I am watching it live on television.
Although I referred to the Notre Dame bandwagon fans above, everyone knows that there are millions of people who will never cheer for the school. Ever. By a large margin, Notre Dame is the most hated team in NCAA football. I would almost venture to say that they are the most hated team in all of sports, beating out the Yankees and Cowboys. I get a couple of the reasons why people hate the Irish so much. I will readily admit that more than once, Notre Dame has been overrated. They have showed up in pre-season polls that they had no business being in, received too much time on college football countdown shows, and gone to bowls they shouldn’t have. I also understand that people dislike Notre Dame because of the elitist type persona that the school takes on. No one likes someone who walks around thinking they are better than everyone. That gets annoying.
What I don’t understand is why people hate Notre Dame for utilizing its resources, mainly money, in smart ways. I hear so much whining and grumbling about Notre Dame getting every single one of its games broadcast on national television. Why be angry at that? Any other institution in the nation would do the exact same thing if they were able to. Don’t fault Notre Dame for making great decisions and developing a superb program that has made it the cash cow it is today. They have earned their wealth and may do anything they please with it. In fact, kudos to them for utilizing it in smart ways, especially by way of entering into the homes of millions of Americans each Saturday.
I don’t like Notre Dame simply because I am a lifelong practicing Catholic. Sure, it does add a little to my support for the team but there is so much more. Notre Dame does things the right way. They instill tough academic and moral standards that ensure that not everyone gets in. I can’t begin to express my respect for an institution that will put stringent academic marks and values ahead of pure athletic talent. I listened to Colin Cowherd say for three years straight how Notre Dame would never be competitive again because of its selective admissions process. However, to this day I still remember the sign that was plastered up in my middle school locker room: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Notre Dame has developed its reputation off of a blue collar work ethic that fits right in with the South Bend area where the institution is located. They don’t practice in tropical and warm places like the California and Florida powerhouse schools. Rather, they gut it out in miserable, cold weather pretty much for the entire season. What’s not to like?
I would be lying if I didn’t say that another main reason why I like Notre Dame is because of the tradition. There is nothing more appealing to me than the pageantry, imagery, and presentation of Notre Dame football. From Touchdown Jesus to the best fight song in college football to the legends that have played and coached for the Fighting Irish, Saturdays inside Notre Dame Stadium are sacred. Nothing beats the basic grass field, the 80,000 fans decked out in Kelly green, or the red haired student Leprachaun prancing around the student section. Football at Notre Dame is pure.
I also root for Notre Dame just because they are good for college football. The Fighting Irish hold a special place in the landscape and tradition of the sport. When Notre Dame is doing well, it brings way more people into the game, both backers and haters. You know in the MLB post season how there is kind of an empty feeling when the Yankees aren’t playing in it? Many get the exact same feeling when the Fighting Irish aren’t in the top 25 or playing in a bowl game. While the Irish generate a lot of money for themselves, they also generate a lot of money for the NCAA. When Notre Dame is doing well, everyone is doing well.
Finally, I think I just like Notre Dame so much because so many other people loathe them. Although I have a couple teams who I usually root against, Notre Dame haters take it to a whole new level where they spend way too much time and energy wishing for the whole program to implode. Personally, I like seeing these people who hate so much not get what they want. It is kind of gratifying.
Good luck to Notre Dame the rest of the year. A tough schedule already played thus far will just continue to get tougher as the season moves on. However, if the Leprechaun continues to “shake down the thunder from the sky”, Notre Dame might find itself playing for a national championship. We shall see. Don’t Blink.