Nov 22, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT
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.
If you’re making your first trip to Notre Dame Stadium tomorrow, make sure you get all your obligatory campus traditions in. Visit the basilica, light a candle at the Grotto, watch the band step off from the Golden Dome, buy an overpriced T-shirt from the bookstore. You know the drill.
But don’t be alarmed when it looks like the snow starts to pick up in the senior section at halftime – it’s just another tradition, even if it is a bit newer. Every year, the seniors spend their final halftime in the student section throwing marshmallows at each other, a sticky whirlwind of bittersweet finality.
Sometimes, like last year, the event is a joyous celebration. The third-ranked Irish were up 31-0 over Wake Forest en route to an 11-0 record. Notre Dame would move to No. 1 with losses by Oregon and Kansas State that same night.
However, more often than not, the fight has been a cathartic release of frustration, devolving into more ugliness than fun. I remember in 2008 especially, the seniors went from marshmallows to snowballs, aiming them at people on the sideline, including players. Once a police officer got hit and stormed into the student section searching for the culprit. The Irish went on to lose to 2-8 Syracuse 24-23.
So the tradition has always been a tug and pull between the students and administration. A couple seniors have been known to put pennies or rocks in marshmallows to make them fly farther. But actually administrative crackdowns led to the tradition as it exists in its current form.
In the late ’90s, seniors started having marshmallow fights at halftime every game. I don’t know if they were expressing their dissatisfaction with the play of the team or mocking Bob Davie’s eating habits or just thought it would be fun.
At some point, people tried sneaking more stuff into the game, and I’ve heard rumors of squids and frogs joining the fight.
By 2002 Notre Dame decided it had to stop. They threatened to revoke ticket booklets of students with marshmallows. I guess that Notre Dame education really does pay off, because the seniors realized this was irrelevant for the last game.
During the 2000s, students continued to sneak marshmallows in just for senior day, and it seemed the administration was all right with this compromise.
Now the fight is a senior day tradition, and is at least partially sanctioned. As long as they don’t make it on the field, marshmallows are allowed to fly. Keep it in the section, seniors, and whatever you do, don’t hit any cops.
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