Why You Shouldn’t Hate Notre Dame

>> Thursday

I’ll come right out and say it. I’m a Notre Dame football fan. I have been since I was five years old, and while I enjoy Marquette’s basketball rivalry with the Irish, I still have nothing but respect for their program all year round, and when football season comes along, I’m always excited to don my Notre Dame jersey (which incidentally, was a Rick Mirer jersey when I bought it).

Throughout the season, I’ve been hearing from one person or another how much they hate Notre Dame, and how they don’t respect the Irish and their program. After much thought, I think it’s high time that I give you all, simply put, the reasons why you should not hate Notre Dame.

The “National Bias”

Many people associate Notre Dame, football in particular, with teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, alluding to a so-called national bias that exists for these teams. The major driving force for this notion is the television contract the school has with NBC, the only such school-exclusive deal that exists in the nation.

While it’s true that the NBC deal gives the Irish a venue of coverage unique to them, this should hardly be construed as a negative thing. The “bias” people speak of when talking about the Yankees is more of a coverage bias, as SportsCenter and other programs of its kind generally lead with and focus most on them. Yes, Notre Dame has many more fans as a result of the TV deal, but look at this analogy: people often ask why there are so many Cubs and Braves fans outside of the Chicago and Atlanta areas. The answer is simple. Those who live in pockets of the nation with no local baseball team end up getting their fix of the national pastime from WGN or TBS, which carry a large amount of those two teams’ games nationally. As a result, they will develop a rooting interest for that team, the closest to a “local” team they can find. For me, growing up in College Football-light New York City, Notre Dame was the one team I could count on always being able to see, and it comes as no surprise that I (and many other people in New York with no connection to the university) became an Irish fan at a young age.

One final note about “bias.” When you break it down, the media in fact has a NEGATIVE bias towards Notre Dame, rather than to opposite. Can anyone find another explanation as to why the Irish was still behind USC in the polls after the Trojans’ loss to Oregon State, despite the fact that Notre Dame’s only loss came to #2 Michigan? The media loves the chance to knock the Irish down, and make it very hard for them to bounce back up.


There are many that like to argue that the University of Notre Dame is a playground for the rich and pretentious, and that everything associated with athletics is driven by money. While it’s no secret that the bottom line is very important to the program, this is not a factor unique to Notre Dame. As the other bloggers who are Marquette alums on this site can attest to, Marquette alums are hit up for money before the ink is even dry on our diplomas. In fact, to purchase Marquette season tickets in the lower level of the Bradley Center, a donation to the Blue and Gold athletics scholarship fund is REQUIRED. I’m sure any reader who went to a school with a big athletics program, particularly those from private schools, has experienced this, because, simply put, it takes a lot of money to fund an athletics program, and Notre Dame is no exception.

Where the Irish shine, is in the fact that they use this money to truly put together a program that is competitive in almost every sport, giving their athletes state of the art facilities and premier coaching to get them there.


Many people choose to hate Notre Dame for reasons that go beyond athletics. Universities, parochial schools in particular, can tend to be very competitive amongst one another, and Notre Dame has always been a benchmark of sorts regarding excellence in Catholic schools.

All this hatred serves to do is breed an inferiority complex. “I hate Notre Dame because they are better than my school” simply sounds like an acknowledgement that your school is not very good, a statement that may not necessarily be true. I am very proud of my Marquette education, and have no regrets about my decision to attend Marquette. For as much respect as I have for the University of Notre Dame, I did not even apply to go to school there. That being said, rather than hating a school that has a record of excellence, I respect them for it, and I’m also very quick to point out what a great school Marquette is, one that in certain areas is very competitive with schools like Notre Dame.


The tradition of Notre Dame football may be the heart of the argument here. Rockne. Leahy. Parseghian. Holtz. All are coaches in the upper echelon of College Football history. Now, Charlie Weis has put the program back on the map, and has a chance to join this elite group. Players from Lujack to Lattner, from Hornung to Theismann, Montana to Bettis, all wore the golden helmet in their college days. It is impossible to argue that Notre Dame is not one of the most storied football programs in history, if not one of the most storied in all of sports. When people think of rivalries, Notre Dame/USC is almost always one of the first to come to mind. The annual contests with Michigan and Michigan State, and even, while often lopsided, the annual games with the military academies come to mind as well. When it comes to history and tradition, Notre Dame is on top of its game.

While this does not require everyone to automatically jump on the bandwagon and cheer for the Irish, it certainly commands respect for what has been accomplished here over the years.

The Experience

Finally, for those who still insist on hating Notre Dame for what they are, I invite you to come to South Bend for a gameday weekend. My girlfriend Beccah, a Notre Dame alum and current Doctoral student, took me for my first experience during the home opener weekend against Penn State. As this was one of the most sought after games for tickets in the program’s history, I did not have a ticket to the game, and ended up watching it next door at the Joyce Center. Even so, I was still awestruck by everything I took in that weekend. The usually quiet and docile campus was flooded with thousands and thousands of people, from first thing in the morning, all milling about taking in the scenery. The fans lined the streets to watch the team make its weekly procession from mass at the Basilica to the stadium. Thousands showed up to watch the marching band give a final concert on the steps of one of the academic buildings, and then make its own procession to the stadium, stopping along the way, section by section, to perform the victory march. The parking lot was one tailgate after the next, and everyone who walked by was a friend and neighbor. Perhaps most staggering of all for a school that allegedly thinks that they are better than everyone, there were many people who made the trip from Happy Valley, walking around in Penn State colors. These fans were treated with nothing but respect, asked about their program and university, and the statement I heard most often as opposing fans parted ways was “Good luck, and welcome to Notre Dame.” This respect alone showed me what great fans Notre Dame has, and made me proud to be one of them.

The following week, I was able to get a ticket into the stadium for the Michigan game, and experienced a whole new round of traditions inside the building. I have since been to almost every game this season, and with each experience, I discover new traditions and reasons why gameday at Notre Dame is so special.

So for those of you who still feel the need to resent Notre Dame for what they are, take a step back and think about where it comes from, and think about everything that has been built in this program. I for one am going to look forward to 9 days from now, when I get to experience the joy that is Notre Dame football live one final time this season.


Nathan 6:55 PM  

And the rebutal...


Of course the NBC deal makes them a team of interest in football-less areas. All the more reason for those of us with an actual local team to hate them. The money they get from the extra fans and extra publicity from the TV deal gives them an edge in recruiting. This is why fans of Big Ten fans hate Notre Dame: they have a tendency to steal our states' best football players.

"When you break it down, the media in fact has a NEGATIVE bias towards Notre Dame, rather than to opposite. Can anyone find another explanation as to why the Irish was still behind USC in the polls after the Trojans’ loss to Oregon State, despite the fact that Notre Dame’s only loss came to #2 Michigan?"

A: OSO beat USC by 3 points. Michigan beat Notre Dame by 26. Also, voters have seen how unimpressive Notre Dame's other wins have been. They've played no one other than Georgia Tech, and needed miracles to beat Michigan State and UCLA.


Again, the extra fans they get because of their national exposure brings in extra money, but this is not really a big issue for me anyways.


Most people don't hate Notre Dame because "it's a better school than mine." People like me hate Notre Dame because THEY THINK they're better than us. There are obviously exceptions, but generally speaking, the students at Notre Dame are pretty condescending to non-ND students. I know from personal experience, and I know from people who have traveled to ND to watch their school play them in football. Which I'll get to in more depth in a little bit.


Come on Danny, I expect more than that from you. Every school has tradition. As a Wisconsin fan over the past couple decades, Brent Moss, Ron Dayne and the Minnesota rivalry gives them plenty of "tradition" in my mind. As a Michigan fan, there is plenty of tradition just like Notre Dame's. Again, this ties into ND thinking their tradition is better than everyone elses. It also ties into the national exposure they get (movies like "Rudy"). The fact that Notre Dame fans tote "Tradition" as a reason to love them is a perfect reason to hate them.


"The usually quiet and docile campus was flooded with thousands and thousands of people, from first thing in the morning, all milling about taking in the scenery."
How did you say this...oh yeah, that's not unique to Notre Dame. Going to a football game at any major school is an experience you won't forget.
As far as Notre Dame fans being respectful and interested in opposing fans, puh-leaaase. You are the least qualified person to make this judgment, as a Notre Dame fan. Try going to a game with a Michigan or USC jersey, and I'm sure you'll see the same kind of taunting you would expect at any college-level athletic event. Taunting opposing fans is a part of any college game, and to say that Notre Dame fans treat their opponents with the utmost respect just proves my point that Notre Dame fans see themselves as high and mighty.

Finally, the number one reason to hate Notre Dame: because bloggers write posts about why you shouldn't hate Notre Dame.
When you need a five-point argument to try to convince someone that you're not an alcoholic, you're an alcoholic.
When you make five-point arguments trying to convince people to not hate your team, your team deserves to be hated.

Vinnie 8:26 PM  

Reasons why I hate ND, as of last February:

1. The Joyce Center doesn't allow signs in the stands, so I couldn't bring in my hilarious (and artful) Dan Fitzgerald sign.

2. The Joyce Center doesn't sell beer.

3. An uptight Joyce Center fan scolded us for cheering too proudly--not even for using profanity or taunting ND players--but for cheering on our own team.

4. The students all live in dorms, where, according to experience, Saturday afternoons are spent watching golf and not drinking.

5. You have to take a cab or drive or walk forever to get to the closest real bar. And I don't consider that airport lounge they call "Legends" a bar.

Also Danny, maybe people are nice there during football games, but have you forgotten a certain tall, slender, thirty-something douche who accused you of being drunk and throwing a water bottle at his nephew and then spreading the lie on message boards the next day? Clearly, that man represents all who ever gone to or been associated with ND.

Let's face it--defend them all you want, but ND people, on average--compared to a control group of other persons from all colleges--think they're the cat's fucking meow.

All or none of what I've just said may or may not be true. Anyway, it's good to have you back in our lives Danny. You gonna be around more after the season's over?

Mike 8:44 PM  

Damn Nate, beat me to it. I'll add what I can.

I think Nate hits it right on the head. It's not that Notre Dame IS better, it's that many Irish fans HONESTLY BELIEVE they're better simply because. One of my friends from high school who is an ND alum has posted in his AIM profile, "Notre Dame 2006: From the outside in, people wonder why this place is so special, and from the inside out, you can't even begin to explain what it means to you..."

Nice sentiment, as I'm sure we all have from time to time been nostalgic for the ole' college days. But no one asked you, ND, and no one wondered. You have a mental image of people falling all over themselves to fellate Notre Dame. Grads and students seem almost incapable of grasping that Notre Dame is, after all, only a college. It has hoodie sweatshirts and drunk freshmen and Phil 101 just like every other school, just with a slightly better reputation. ND-haters don't necessarily have an inferiority complex. In fact, my experience has been that many Notre Dame alums have a SUPERIORITY complex. Case in point: My Dad. ND Class of '76. Every time a U of I team is on TV, he'll say out loud, "Scholarship! S-K-O..." God damn. U of I is a great school, but to hear him say it, he thinks it's some two-bit community college. Nate, Vinnie, and I can remember getting the same condescending treatment at the MU-ND game in South Bend last year. "At least we can do things besides guzzle beer all the time." What provokes that?

I can only come up with two explanations. Either A) The aforementioned superiority complex taking every opportunity to look down their noses at someone, or B) An entitlement complex that thinks that Notre Dame is entitled to the best in everything. God, look at their football fans. How many seem to think that they're entitled to 11-0 seasons? How many were CONFIDENT that the Irish were going to run the table and win the National Championship? Certainly more than was justified for this overrated team. I'm constantly amazed how a team that has nearly lost to Michigan State, Georgia Tech, and UCLA, hasn't really beaten anyone good either, and got blown out by Michigan by 26 points AT HOME is still in the top 10. To say there's a negative bias against ND is looking at the Irish through rose (gold)-colored glasses.

Vinnie 9:38 PM  

Your dad repeats his one-liners too? Now I know where you got it.

But yeah, it's not that I really dislike or resent ND and the people that go there. I see it all as silly, mostly. From what I've gathered, I really think that to go to ND and to become a part of its culture, it helps to be the kind of person who doesn't mind living in a snowglobe. And that's just not how most people are.(Though I'm sure Beccah is lovely. I still haven't met her.)

There's no way to say this without sounding like I'm bragging (all you have is my word that I'm not), but I could've gone to ND, as could a lot of other people I know who didn't go there. Where I went to high school and where I live, it's considered hands-down THE place to be among a pretty significant percentage of people. But some of us just have never understood the appeal. And yeah, I'll agree with Mike that that sentiment is, like, unspeakable to seeming most people who have gone there or have had family there.

Now I'm getting WAY off topic, but that kind of mentality bothers me deeply because I've known or heard of way, way too many kids from ND families or from families that just put it on a huge pedestal, who are pressured--often from ridiculously early ages--to aspire to go there, even if the goal is ultimately unatainable or not in the kid's best interest.

And that's what bothers me about ND.

Matt 8:04 AM  

"There's no way to say this without sounding like I'm bragging (all you have is my word that I'm not), but I could've gone to ND..."

-Someone who got a 1510 on his SAT and "could've" also gone to Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago, Stanford, etc...making the point about Notre Dame quite irrelevent.

Also, Notre Dame - I hate it. Aside from their fight song (which I think is all right), it's dragsville, man. I just hate Notre Dame because, as Tony K says, "The University of College Football in America," despite the fact that this reputation may have been valid in, oh, 1954.

Also - Brady Quinn will be a bustola in the NFL, you can mark that shit down.

Matt,  1:45 PM  

First, do you all know why ND has a national TV contract? Because they can. If ABC, CBS, or any other network thought that any other school out there had such a broad national fan base that there was money to be made by broadcasting their games exclusively each week they'd do it in a heartbeat. ND is the only, THE ONLY, school out there that has such a broad, national, fan base. And that fan base was there long before the NBC contract. It is not as if the NBC coverage has resulted in this broad fan base; it was already there and NBC sought to capitalize on it. I bet Michigan or Southern Cal would love to have a national TV contract, fact is, there simply is not the demand for it.

On tradtion, ND's tradition spans back over one hundred years. While this isn't as long as Michigan's, Ohio State's or some other schools, it is certainly longer than most. ND's widespread, not regional, popularity helps deepen and ingrain its traditions in the minds of millions nationwide. A decade or two does not tradition make. A few All-Big Ten, or even All-American selections, doesn't have the same impact as 7 Heisman Trophy winners.

Anonymous,  1:47 PM  

Tradition, History, blah blah blah.........

I hate when ND fans always want to bring up the past when the past isn't necessarily relevant to the present. They always bring up its Heisman winners, none (or maybe one) of which have won in the past decade or couple of decades, and their national championships (only one of which they've won in the past two decades) and think that we're all awed by what you've done in past centuries . Win a bowl, any bowl, and I'll give you guys a little more respect.

I'll openly admit, I'm biased against ND as a USC fan, but you will never see me brag about past successes, about how we won a championship in the '30s or '70s or had a Heisman winner in the early '80s. I love history, I love tradition, but I think ND fans go too far in constantly living in the past.

Mike 2:59 PM  

Good points all.

No school seems to enjoy cloaking themselves in the past while ignoring the present more than Notre Dame.

Just by the numbers...
11 National titles, but only 1 since 1978.
7 Heisman winners, but only 1 since 1965.
No Bowl wins since 1994 Cotton Bowl (When I was in fourth grade).

Anonymous,  3:24 PM  

As for the TV contract, the Big Ten has the 12 noon time slot wrapped up. I live in Indiana and on any Saturday I can watch 3 or 4 Big Ten games at noon on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, or ABC. Also the SEC has a deal with CBS for an afternoon game and with ESPN for a Saturday night game. Everyone has TV contracts, ND is no different. People watch ND because they love them or hate them. Does someone in Idaho care about the SEC? How about Texas? No and No. ND, they probably have feelings one way or another so they will tune it to see a victory or loss.

eirishis 7:13 PM  

(DISCLAIMER: I'm an ND fan.)

I think you left out a huge reason why people shouldn't hate ND - because its fan base is just as organic as any other programs, just differently oriented. Most big college programs have fans by two paths:

1) Family allegience
2) Regional allegience

ND shares (1) - I am an ND fan because my father went there, and I was raised on it. Yes, Vinnie, there was pressure to go there, but meh, I kinda wanted to. I just decided on someplace else that wasn't in the middle of nowhere, Indiana.

Which brings me to (2) - ND doesn't have a regional allegience like most programs do. Instead, it has an ethnic allegience that is very historical - many Irish-Americans have felt a connection to ND throughout the years and have appreciated the team in that region. In the post-1960 era, the metropolitan areas with the largest Irish populations (Chicago, NY, and Boston) also were bereft of big time college football (save BC's occassional appearances in big games), so the Irish were and are a natural place for those fans to turn.

In other words - We're just like any other major program - especially now that every major program, albeit through its conference, has a big TV deal and recruits nationally. ND is special for us because it's our team ... in the same way that LSU is special for fans of the Bayou Bengals. Notre Dame fans (at least, me and the ND fans I know) expect to be hated by our rivals, but we don't really get why the Irish are hated by fans of teams we don't even play. I mean, do Texas fans hate Georgia? I don't get it.

(And, while I'm here, I'd just like to point out to Mike that while you are undeniably right in that the last 10-15 years haven't been peaches and cream for the blue and gold, the Irish were jobbed out of a National Championship in 1993 (finishing #2 to a Florida State team they had beaten), and Raghib Ismail should have won the 1990 Heisman over Ty Detmer.)

Mike 5:39 PM  

You can't really claim you were "jobbed" out of a National title when you close out your regular season by choking to an 8-3 Boston College team at home, while that "Florida State team we beat" finished their season by knocking off #2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

For me personally, the most telling part of Notre Dame's 1993 schedule is that they only beat two teams with a record of 9-3 or better. Florida State on the other hand beat five teams with a record of 9-3 or better (Hat tip: Zuch). ND got to #1 in 1993 by beating up on Navy and Northwestern and watching more powerful teams lose against higher-calibre opposition on TV. Florida State played an extremely demanding schedule, and was only about 20 yards away from running the table. Any argument that ND should have won the national title ignores this.

eirishis 7:36 PM  

Mike - so you concede that the Rocket was jobbed out of the Heisman? :)

And to your argument - fair points, and no denying that the Irish should have gotten it done against BC. But your argument against ND ignores the bowl games, the final statements voters got from the teams. FSU needed a last second field goal to beat Nebraska in front of essentially a home crowd in Miami, while Notre Dame beat then-#5 Texas A&M (no slouches themselves) in what was essentially a road game in the Cotton Bowl.

(Of course, we'll never really know who the champ should have been - people forget that Auburn was undefeated that year, but on probation, so who knows if that would have made a difference.)

Anyway - that year is the reason I'm such a big proponent of a college football playoff - would have been nice if the two teams could have decided it on the field.

Mike 9:16 PM  

You've missed the point.

First off, if you're going to bring margin of victory into the equation, then let's look at the margin in ND's three games in 1993 against ranked opposition, the final scores were ND +4, +7, and (-2). Ah yes, and a mere 3 point victory in the "final statement" bowl game. Not exactly routs.

You seem to be arguing that Florida State didn't deserve the National title because they only beat #2 Nebraska by 2. Likewise, Notre Dame got "jobbed" because they beat #11 Texas A&M by 3. I see.

My point was that ND didn't deserve to be ranked that high in the first place because they played a creampuff schedule full of Northwesterns and Pitts. The Noles not only played successful teams, but smoked em by more than an average of a field goal.

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