Laura Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last Saturday, while our football team was at Virginia and I was watching the game at home, I had the opportunity to sit back and witness the obsession with college football that takes over the Twitterverse every weekend.
On my timeline, specifically, I had a first row seat to the obsession with Notre Dame football.
From an outsider's perspective, it's exactly that - obsessive. And if you really think about it, it is weird; why do people care so much about Notre Dame football?
It's really a question that could be asked about diehard fans of any sport. The simple, and true, answer is that sports are just innately emotional. They provide fans a sense of identity and pride. Not to mention, sports are just simply entertaining. But, all of these generic reasons really don't suffice when trying to answer the question, why Notre Dame football?
People might say it's the tradition, the legacy, or the rich history. Yet, it's so much more than that. It's extremely personal for every person.
When you're a freshman at Notre Dame and you start making friends, you find that there is this scale of students and how strong their connection is to Notre Dame football. On one extreme are the students whose great great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, and father all played football at Notre Dame. On the other end are those students who never identified as a Notre Dame football fan until they were forced into it after receiving their acceptance letter.
Wherever you may fall on the scale, or if you're one of the loud and proud subway alumni, everyone has their own personal reason for loving (and obsessing) over Notre Dame football. It is so much deeper and bigger than just a sense of pride and an emotional connection.
For me, above all else, Notre Dame football has been a huge part of the strong relationship I have with my dad. While our Notre Dame degrees are a commonality that we are both immensely proud of, Notre Dame football has played a large role in forming the bond that exists between us long before I received my degree.
It started when I was young and we would watch the games together every Saturday. I didn't know much in kindergarten but I knew I was going to Notre Dame for college. Did I know how hard it was to get into? No, but I knew there was Notre Dame football and I knew that Ruth Riley was awesome.
When I finally achieved my dream and enrolled at Notre Dame, my dad and I had a rule that if he wasn't in town for a game or if the team was away, I would call him after the game to talk about it, even if we lost and neither of us had much to say.
Our bond, I'll admit, is more than just Notre Dame football. Growing up, I played AAU basketball and for a good 4 years, our summers consisted of traveling to different basketball tournaments all over the midwest and beyond. My dad was always there on those trips, from Chicago to Atlanta to Tennessee, and he was there in Cincinnati when I shattered my ankle and needed surgery.
AAU tournaments don't exist in my life anymore but I like to think Notre Dame football has allowed us to keep that tradition of traveling the country together alive. We went to Oklahoma during my sophomore year to see our team take down the Sooners. Of course, that year, we also traveled to Miami for the National Championship. Last year, my senior year, we went down to Florida State together and this year, we will go to Clemson (let's pray for a W in South Carolina because our road record is currently a disappointing 1-2).
I guess my point is that Notre Dame football is so much more to us than just a team. Of course, all of that emotional pride stuff is a huge part of it but, to put it simply, it's been a way for me to hang out with my dad.
Of course, we talk about more than just Notre Dame football but I think about 90% of our conversations, at least during the fall, include something about Notre Dame football.
I think I'm writing all of this now because I never truly realized what Notre Dame football meant to me until I wasn't a student anymore. When you are a student and you try to think about why it means so much to you, it's kind of an obvious answer. It's your school; you're surrounded by it constantly and it's just a part of you.
Of course, Notre Dame is still a part of me and always will be. It's still my school, but it's not the same. The student goggles are off now and, even though I work in athletics and am still surrounded by it, I finally have a different point of view. I can see how huge this tradition really is and see how much it really means to people. Not only to fans across the country but to me and my life.
It seems kind of silly to make such a big deal out of one college football team. But, it becomes special when we can look past the flair and hooplah of college football and remember why we care so much in the first place. Because, whether or not we like to admit it, we care a whole lot. And that's okay.
My stories don't even begin to compare to the countless I've heard from so many fans about why Notre Dame is so special to them. If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear your story. After all, everyone has one.