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  • Cheer, Cheer (but not too loud)

    by SEE

    (The Rock Report | Notre Dame Football News) – Notre Dame should rewrite the fight song to read: “Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame, but please do so in a family-friendly, politically correct manner while not obstructing views of others.”

    The “we need a jumbotron to help with stadium atmosphere” argument is about as non-sensical and disingenuous as the “we need to join a conference for scheduling purposes” argument.  As if a jumbotron will suddenly ignite passion in the Gold seats.

    Both are self-inflicted wounds being used as justification for different agendas.  I was at the USC game in 2005; it was plenty loud. No jumbotron needed. What worked that day? The team was winning and fans were standing and cheering most of the game.  That’s it.   That’s the entire formula.   Real high-level stuff.  Anyone who says ND needs a jumbotron for atmosphere wasn’t at the game.

    Jack Swarbrick’s response to an inquiry about the advantage of a jumbotron surfaced this line of thinking in an email, “I believe that it is imperative that we create more energy in our stadium in order to create more of a home-field advantage.”

    Jack, you don’t need a jumbotron, you need give everyone a card that says, “If you go to a game it is highly likely that the person next to you or in front of you will be loud and could stand much of the game.   You are encouraged to do the same to Cheer Cheer for Old Notre Dame,” not a Blue Card (I’ll explain in a minute.)

    There’s a simple solution to the atmosphere issue :  1. actually let fans cheer and 2. field a winning team.  No one needs a jumbotron to exhort cheering. That’s rank foolishness. ND needs a jumbotron to generate more revenue, period. I have an Notre Dame email saying as much.

    “You should understand that the University has a million financial challenges. For example, the $40 million bill for the coming ND Stadium repairs. How does the University decide to pay for it?…  Car wash? Bake sale? Jumbotron?”

    Just as the only thing preventing Notre Dame from scheduling a decent slate was the 7-4-1 arrangement, the only thing preventing a louder stadium is Notre Dame.   One fan shared this account of an usher encounter:

    “during the second half (of the South Florida game), an usher walked up to the four of us and attempted to pull us aside. We asked why and he wouldn’t say, but just insisted that we leave our seats and speak with him in one of the tunnels to the concession area.  He then told us we were being “too loud” while cheering, handed us a card that referenced something about maintaining a family atmosphere and smugly said something like, “are you aware of the ‘card’ system in soccer?” Well this is what I like to call the blue card which is equivalent to a yellow card, please be respectful to the people around you and tone down your cheering. To be clear, we were not profane.”

    As luck would have it, another NDNation fan was with his family right in front of the “rapscallions”

    “I was right in front of you… the rest of the people in our area (including us) couldn’t believe that the ushers pulled this stunt.  The 4 guys behind us weren’t swearing, just yelling and cheering, but the ushers pulled them away and warned them. It was ridiculous. It was my first time back in years and I couldn’t believe what was happening. My son, daughter and in-laws (yes they would qualify as “old”) all had a great time high-five-ing you guys when we started to make a comeback.”

    We’ve all read the stories in the past about the absurd crackdown on drinking and the F-Troop/A-Team approach to reigning in drinking and problem fans. While that disaster has abated, it’s incongruous to believe that all fans should able to sit and enjoy the action while at the same time lamenting the silence of the stadium. One is the result of the other.

    Which is why this Swarbrick line stuck a chord, “I need your passion,” he said. “I travel around with our team, and our stadium is the quietest place we play. I want you guys on that Saturday night at least once to make USC have a false start penalty.”    It should read, “I need your passion…  unless it’s too loud or… you’re in someone’s way…  or it’s done a way that scares children… or…. ”

    While the atmosphere shouldn’t deter families from coming to a Notre Dame game, families should know that a trip to Rock’s House is not a trip to Disney World.  Good fans stand and cheer and yell to create a home field advantage.

    Jack, you’re not going to rattle a team into jumping off-sides if you make people sit on their butts, clap politely and stay out of everyone’s sight line.   ND’s misguided attempt to create a Disney environment combined with a mediocre product is at fault for the stadium atmosphere.   Kids should know that a football game is a participatory event, not a day at the ballet.

    People yell, they get upset, they exhort their team on.    This has to happen within boundaries, but yelling loud and standing should not be a boundary.

    It’s football.  You have an obligation to cheer your team on.   There’s a reason the words “Cheer, Cheer” are in the fight song.

    The solution isn’t pouring electricity into a loud, obnoxious screen funded by corporate ads that distract from the field, but instead fielding an electric team that in turn incites an electric crowd unencumbered by “rooting restrictions” and unbound by a rare and insoluble passion.

    Call me a cynic, but I doubt the Sheas were thinking  that a jumbotron was necessary when these lyrics were penned:

    “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame. Wake up the echoes cheering her name.  Send a volley cheer on high. Shake down the thunder from the sky!”

    The only echoes a jumbotron will evoke are the echoes of Kevin White’s ASU jumbotron debacle (click here for more.)

    “The real battle during ASU home football games pits fans against a high-tech marketing machine that employs a distracting array of audio, video, live stunts and bright signage to hammer commercial messages into a captive audience. No matter how the game unfolds, no matter the situation on the field, Sun Devil fans face a fusillade of advertisements. The ads divert attention from the field and refocus the “market” on products and corporations being hawked.”

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