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Seeking Solidarity

Sep 29, 2013, 2:05 AM EDT

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

So, one of my rules as a blogger is not to be too negative. It’s not an unreasonable demand – I work for the university, I represent the athletic department. I’m not supposed to be David Frost asking the tough questions about fourth-quarter playcalling here. This isn’t First Take, after all.

For those of you who know me, though, you know this can occasionally be difficult. In certain circumstances, I’m not just glass-half-empty, I’m “The glass is half-empty and water is evaporating as we speak.”

And over the last few weeks I’ve struggled with this rule. “Yeah, it was ugly, but we can still figure it out,” sounds really lame right about now, and I’ve already used it about three times.

I’m supposed to present a viewpoint of the student section. And the truth is the students are angry. They’re baffled by the drop off in play caused by the departure of Charlie Weis-recruited players. They’re unhappy when players run directly to the locker room instead of staying for the alma mater (is this the official policy now?).

I know some students who left the game early. For those who didn’t, the general statement was, “I’m staying for the alma mater.” Although it’s not a long tradition, it’s been ingrained in the culture of the current student body as a moment of solidarity. For all of last season, it was a communal celebration of victory. In defeat it’s a system of support for both student-athletes and student-spectators.

If that is no longer the official policy, I’m disappointed. Solidarity isn’t only for victory.

But if that’s true, I also greatly admire Carlo Calabrese for leading his people back to the corner of the student section. Despite a smaller showing, the gesture takes deeper meaning when it becomes a player movement instead of a forced tradition. In a disappointing game and a disappointing moment, it was something I could truly appreciate.

Obviously, you don’t get a perfect regular season every year. Almost every season has games like this, as frustrating as they are. Before I was a student, I would simply cheer for a victory and be upset in defeat. Last year I could gain the macro-level perspective of a team bound for the championship game.

That isn’t this team’s path, and I gain more and more long-term perspective as I get older. It makes defeat that much harder, but it also means I can find solace in things like Carlo’s gesture. I’m transitioning from fan to student and eventually alumnus, from artificial link to eternal bond.

If that sounds weak and cheesy, I’m sorry. I’m still learning about silver linings.

  1. charlierkendall - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Solidarity isn’t just about coming together when you win
    It is about how you support one and other in adversity. That is the
    True test of character. Is that what this team has? Is that
    the kind of solidarity the coaches have been able to develop?
    Time will tell. If not, you have to look beyond the players and coaches.

  2. ndirishfan66 - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Craig thank you for sharing this with us. I can’t believe this is happening! After Charlie Weis made this a requirement, I thought this would become something that would continue FOREVER!!! This is something Brian Kelly and the other coaches MUST have the team do!! If it weren’t for the Student Section and then the rest of the fan base, who would be cheering for them, pulling for them, praying for them, wishing for them and having some silly superstitions (to help them win) every Saturday, who would they have? Are we not the people who take to heart, “What tho’ the odds, great or small?” I mean come on people!

    Solidarity is for all of us! The team must have their solidarity! Then they must have their solidarity to the student section and fan base. They are part of the student body, they must have their solidarity with them. That builds character, shows strength and builds unity. Maybe if the team would do that after it’s loss, they would know that even though we may get angry, in the end we still love Notre Dame.

    GO IRISH!!

  3. 1972domer - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    As an alum I couldn’t agree more. So disappointed to hear this new policy. I would Like Coach Kelly to comment on this issue. Also so many of the players don’t even sing it and for what they are getting from ND they should learn it and sing with pride.

  4. ndirishfan66 - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    I am now disgusted that Brian Kelly has issued a statement that the team will not stand in front of the Student Section after a loss. Are they not a part of the University? Did the University not allow them to come to this school to get their education and to play football, whether they received a scholarship or not?

    Singing the Alma Mater has been a tradition at Notre Dame for decades. I know that because I have had the pleasure of seeing 9 games since 1975. I am not an alum, but I sing it, because I LOVE Notre Dame!!

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