Monday, September 30, 2013

The Alma Mater Matters More than the Score

It's been a while since I allowed myself to care about Notre Dame Football. Even last year, when they were going against Alabama and lost only one game in the season, when they had Manti T'eo up for the Heisman and the crazy scandal of the girlfriend that wasn't, I just couldn't let myself enjoy it.

But I still love the darn place.

It's where my family has been for generations, Notre Dame and Saint Mary's, it's part of me, it's part of my whole family history.  I have generations of family that stayed through the end of disappointing games to sing the Alma Mater. It would finish the experience, everyone staying to the last note, one student body win or lose, rain, snow, cold or shine to sing the Alma Mater.  It comforted and it closed every game.  Here is the song.

However the new policy by Coach Kelly decreed that the football team shall not stay out on the field after a home game loss to sing.  They will only stay when they win.  Most of us didn't know about this change as last year, we didn't lose until the end and not at home until this past Saturday.

Here are the words:

Notre Dame, our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens,
Gleams the gold and blue.
Glory's mantle cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame
And our hearts forever
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever,
Love thee, Notre Dame.

It is a little thing I know, but I have problems with this idea, of only belonging, of only singing, of only praying (and it is a song of prayer), when we win.  There is something to seeing all of the student body, athlete and fan, all of the alumni, all of the people in the stands, saying these words.  The song reminds everyone, fan and athlete, that the University stands for something far greater, far more achingly beautiful than football and winning.  As a member of the Notre Dame/Saint Mary's community, and as a fan of both the university and the football team, I protest, this is forgetting what Notre Dame is to be about,
in favor of what the world thinks when it sees Notre Dame.

And if I were a member of the Notre Dame Football team, I'd protest by staying after every game and singing, as loudly as possible with the student body, because the world doesn't need an undefeated football team (good thing this year too), as much as it needs a humble witness that win lose or draw, we are ND and thus, we honor Mary first.


Bridget said...

Cutting out a prayerful and community building experience based on the outcome of the game seems dishonorable.
This is sad news and a poor policy indeed.
-ND mom

Dennis Neylon said...

And another great tradition bites the dust for no apparent good reason. One of my favorite traditions is the end of the Army-Navy game when both teams sing each others' alma mater (winning team to losing school, then losing team to winning school). Class shows!

ND alum Priest said...

Coach Kelly also ended the practice of having Mass the morning of the game, and walking from the Basilica to the stadium. Now, there is apparently Mass (or whatever prayer service they do - it's simple fact that the percentage of Catholics on the football team is limited) on Friday, and on game day they process from the new shiny "Goog" football facility.

I don't expect the coach to be a religious educator. But I do expect him to let Notre Dame be Notre Dame - a place where it's not only "tradition," it's faith, that makes the place special.

Bob '82 said...

When I was a student in the late 70's and early 80's, the alma mater was played as part of the post game concert but the players did not stick around for it. In those days, we also did not sway as the students do now. The players began staying for for alma mater at the direction of Charlie Weis in 2005. This may have been an attempt to start something that would eventually become a tradition; however, something started a mere 8 years ago does not constitute tradition at a place like Notre Dame. That said, I agree that it should be a player option to stay. It can't possibly delay the postgame meetings since it is a very brief song.

Regarding Mass, moving Mass to Friday night is a return to the past. I am not sure when the "tradition" of game day Mass collowed by a walk to the stadium began, but I think it was under Lou Holtz.

Sherry Antonetti said...

Hey Bob, SMC 88 and married to ND class of 88 here. Players did stay, students did sway when I attended, and we lost a lot of games...two under Faust, two with Lou where we were turning it around, but not there yet and when my sister attended ND, class of 99, the same. So it was a tradition, and even if it is not a very old tradition or even a consistent one.

Anonymous said...

My Dad wanted me to go to ND back in the day. Now I'm glad I didn't go - went to University of Michigan instead. While Michigan is no Catholic bastion at least (with God's grace) I didn't lose my Faith! I deeply hate the fact that ND has, in many ways, turned for its aspirations to secular society and the Obama elites. Scandalous!

I suggest that the alma mater be sung by the Faithful after every game along with a Hail Mary!

donalmahoney said...

The song sung or not sung is not the problem with Notre Dame.

The problem with Notre Dame is that the same priest who invited Obama to campus is still president of the university,

Deporting that man would be a good beginning to keep Notre Dame from getting more and more like a secular school.

Anonymous said...

donalmahoney: ND's road to secularism started long before Father Jenkins became president - Monk Malloy did more to secularize the school through his goal of matching their "aspirational peers" - the Ivies, Stanford, etc.

Anonymous said...

Let's leave the politics out of this thread. As to the topic of the discussion, an 8 year tradition, is still a tradition. Brian Kelly just doesn't seem to "get" Notre Dame.

Anonymous said...

Let's leave the politics out of this thread. As to the topic of the discussion, an 8 year tradition, is still a tradition. Brian Kelly just doesn't seem to "get" Notre Dame.


Your ost sings for me! Spot on.

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