Just sit for a moment, close your eyes and say these words out loud: Notre Dame Football. What immediately comes to mind? The Notre Dame Victory March? Touchdown Jesus? The Golden Dome? How about The Four Horsemen, Rockne, the 7 Heisman Trophy winners or 9-loss seasons with games yet to play? Say what?
Notre Dame has been playing football since 1887 and in that time has won more than 800 games and 8 wire service national championships while sending hundreds of players to the NFL, 9 of them landing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list of Irish accolades is practically endless.
And yet, perhaps no college football season, as it applies to the good of our nation, will ever be as memorable as the one we now are living through. The simple fact is this: Notre Dame losing is good for everyone! The Fighting Irish are doing their part to heal the collective psyche of this country. They truly are… America’s Team.
Whether you’re a diehard college football fan or one with only a passing interest, you’ve got an opinion on Notre Dame. You love them or you hate them. This is not a subject any college football fan, anywhere in the world, is on the fence about. It’s like talking to someone from Chicago who says he/she likes both the Cubs and the White Sox. Right. thanks for weighing in, and now go back and suck down a few more cold ones while you cheer on both Ohio State and Michigan.
Who’s your favorite team? For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s Nebraska. Big Red Nation has gone broke spending their money on Voodoo dolls that seem to resemble Bill Callahan. This season can’t end fast enough for Cornhusker fans and yet amidst their pain, they have relief. As dreadful as they’ve been – and let’s call it what it is, Nebraska is an embarrassment – they are BCS title-worthy compared to Notre Dame. And for troubled, desperate Nebraska fans facing the long, cold, hard winter ahead, this is good. Notre Dame has provided healing, comfort and maybe even brought tears to the eyes of little farm boys and girls throughout the state.
Tears of joy and tears of thanks, with each one of those tiny drops whispering a simple thank you to the Irish for making their world just a little bit better.
Their Cornhuskers stink, but Notre Dame’s futility keeps it all in perspective. When they get home from school, those chores won’t be nearly as hard and they’ll take half the time to finish. That sound you hear is the entire state of Nebraska saying “Thank You Notre Dame… you’re so bad, you’ve actually made us feel good about our ‘Huskers. And in the bigger picture, America seems just a little bit better than it’s been, all because of you.”
When Notre Dame loses, everyone wins. But they’re not just losing, they’re finding new and improved ways to reach lower than they’ve ever been. And the lower they go, the higher the nation’s collective spirit rises. Just when you thought it was enough that Navy’s 43 years of futility came to an end with their victory in triple overtime at Notre Dame Stadium, Irish head coach Charlie Weis took it to even greater heights as he proclaimed, in full Grinch mode not realizing the good he was doing for all of us, that he didn’t care about the streak. It was just another game that happened to be a loss to Navy. Oh contraire, Monsieur Weis.
And then, offering Americans young and old an early Christmas gift, the Irish scored the ultimate daily double: The very next week, sensing our nation was in a collective funk because of colder temperatures, shorter days and rising gas prices, they gave us a rousing 41-24 loss to Air Force.
Notre Dame Football is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’re sick, hungry, in a bad relationship, don’t like your job, out of work or simply a little down in the dumps, Notre Dame is here for you. The Fighting Irish can never be accused of not doing their part to help… you. You, a fellow American that just might need an emotional lift.
It is for you that they don the gold helmets, navy blue jerseys and carry with them the pride of the Irish.
Play Like a Champion Today . . .
You may win one for the Gipper, but you’ll lose one for the nation!
photo credit: und.com
About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.