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  • A Step in the Right Direction

    by Mike Coffey

    This entry was authored by Chip Lewis, aka SBDomer, who ever since the announcement of the commission to investigate game day issues has been communicating with and giving input to the people involved in the process.

    With the announcement of the new game-day policies for home football games, the Notre Dame administration has signaled that it is interested and engaged in changing the course of the Irish Football Saturday experience for fans. As a fan base, we need to match the University’s efforts with our own actions to improve the game-day experience.

    Following widespread concern that the University had lost control of the behavior of its game-day policy makers and enforcers, the crucial first step was the appointment of a special committee to study the operations and procedures used by safety, security and hospitality employees at Notre Dame.  This committee issued a report last spring that is now in the process of implementation.  The April appointment of Mike Seamon, as the director of football operations, is a clear indication that ND is serious about improvement.  Seamon is a former football manager for Lou Holtz and very familiar with the passion and excitement that overtakes the campus on a game day.  As a Holtz disciple, Seamon is familiar with the concept of continuous improvement, and you can bet that he will apply that mindset to game-day operations on an ongoing basis.

    It is not reasonable to expect that the many controversial aspects of game-day safety and security enforcement issues can be quickly implemented or would be publicly addressed. The job of overhauling the policies in effect and procedures to be followed is better addressed incrementally rather than immediately. It is better to fix the vision behind the policies in order to attain long term improvement. It will be better for fans if Seamon takes his time in addressing the many existing game-day issues. If some of the recently announced changes seem too quick and easy, it’s because they are exactly that, but that’s not a bad start. The quick implementation of certain changes is a reasonable beginning of the process.

    As things move forward, the state of the art for game-day safety and security, both inside and outside of the Stadium, will be consistent enforcement of fair and fully-disclosed rules. It will be Seamon’s job to make sure that the major ND football weekend stakeholders—alumni, students and legitimate college football fans—enjoy the electricity and excitement of an Irish Football Saturday in a manner that allows for maximum fun while still addressing safety. While we should not expect that ND will ever condone or encourage underage drinking, we should expect that ND and its enforcement staff and partners will not bust family tailgates while the wild tailgate party with three party vans, refrigerator-sized speakers, a DJ and bottles of booze being passed around among people who are not even attending the game goes unaddressed. Seamon surely understands this, and if nothing else we can expect that he’ll put a stop to law enforcement patrols that view family tailgates as the low-hanging fruit for filling arrest quotas.

    When viewed as an on-going process, it is easy to see our role as a fan base in the effort to improve game-day policies and enforcement. We should use the communication tools provided by the University to let them know what we think, game by game. All kidding aside, the crazy drunk who is truly a danger to himself and others ought to be text-reported and removed from the Stadium. The wild tailgate of un-invested people who are not going to the game but treat our campus like the venue for a Grateful Dead-style roaming party ought to be shut down. The trick is to make sure that the right problems are addressed, that the 5 or 50 worst offenders are removed from the Stadium rather than the 5 or 50 people that appear like they’d put up the least fuss.

    We must continue our vigilance and be part of the long-term solution. Let’s use the Stadium texts to remove problems. Let’s notify security personnel of outrageous tailgates. Let’s keep them so busy addressing the right problems that there is no time or inclination to go after traditional tailgate activity, the kind that has brought Notre Dame families and friends together for generations. As time goes by, reasonable and fairly enforced rules that we all understand and can follow will improve the game-day experience for all of us.

    As in all enforcement situations, there is what is said and what is done. Notre Dame has made the first of presumably many public statements on the plan to improve game-day processes. As this season unfolds, we’ll see what changes have occurred in the area of enforcement. It is up to us to remain vigilant for abuses by law enforcement or usher personnel, and then communicate them to University staff. Notre Dame has already shown by action that it understood there was a problem, so the University deserves our support as the new program is rolled out. We need to respond with cooperation and support to ensure that an Irish Football Saturday remains the outstanding shared experience for the Notre Dame family and friends that is has always been.

    21 Responses to “A Step in the Right Direction”

    1. Anonymous says:


      Gotta agree with Mike and Chip on this one. I think the main point being made is that both the University/NDSP and fans have to use more common sense and, if used correctly, the new procedures can be a step in the right direction.

      It'll never be as crazy as the fans would like, nor as wholesome as the Administration would like, but hopefully an uneasy truce can be reached. The danger is that one overzealous rent-a-cop or crazy partier will throw things out of balance, which is, again, where common sense needs to come into play.


    2. As usual, Anonymous is a raging flamer. Anon, save time writing me back – 'flamer' is codeword for you, not a Townie. It also means 'uninvested ND Nation reader' who decides to be judge-jury-executioner on a straightforward article on the recent attempts at game day changes from an involved, local perspective.

      I'm a Townie, Bender, etc… and an ND Grad who has great personal differences with the University and the football program of late and I've lost that loving feeling. However, I'm very confortable with Chip's writings.

      The fun people aren't that fun when their puke hits your shoes. Our big picture is taking the sterile (meaning testosterone-less) stadium back from the gold seat snoozers, the Sitting Irish, and less hollow and phony game day relationship, etc… To anyone trying to advocate a balance of fun, good ND arrogance, loyalty to an expired non-plastic tradition, you have your work cut out for you.

      Good job, Chip. Good job, ElK, good job NDNation, and best wishes to the 2009 team.

    3. Anonymous says:

      (From a different Anonymous) I completely understand wanting to clean up some of the events that go on before games, however, I feel that targeting people who aren't fortunate enough to have the money to own tickets but are still trying to have a good time and support their team is wrong. Tailgating is what it is…a congregation of fans drinking beer, eating burgers, tossing the pigskin and meeting others. People being drunk will happen. It's inevitable. I do agree that calming the "wild tailgates" is a must, but keep in mind, college isn't what it used to be. "Wild Tailgates" is probably the older generations' term for a student tailgate that is playing drinking games. If you think ND is becoming bad, go to a tailgate fest at IU, PU, or Ball State 🙂 ND is actually pretty mellow in my opinion. All in all we should try to be safe, have fun, and embrace the tailgating luxury, not abuse it.

    4. Anonymous says:

      Can we take this article down which sounds like it was written by Cappy's son? Banning wild tailgates? That reads as code for breaking up student tailgaters. As a 10+ year alumni, Im not so far removed that I dont think back fondly about my student tailgating days and i dont begrudge them their fun. Maybe we should have a designated student area? Back in the day, the cops turned an eye to some of the tailgating areas. Can we bring that back? Can we bring back the RVs?

    5. Anonymous says:

      Text a complaint…Watch out, standing up and being vocal at a game could very well get you thrown out because some sad sack doesn't want to get "involved" in the game. I wonder how the university has survived decades of fan support without "text surveilence". And the stadium atmosphere is almost churchlike now compaired to the 60's and 70's when it was a dreaded place to play. I agree, the falling over drunk needs to be removed, but I really fear the bigger picture of this new policy. I expect there will be MANY complaints about unjust removals.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Seriously, "Top of the page Anon", I don't think SB was trying to make his point for tossing out "townies" but rather to be reasonable about the entire situation.

      I've been going out to at least two home games a year for over 20 years and the discretion in which the Campus and South Bend Gestapo has used as been poor at best. Busting up a family gathering with a couple underage kids sneaking a beer is ludicrous when the large parties that might be getting out of hand are being untouched. This is simply poor judgment on the security's part.

      If you have ever had the chance to travel to other campuses for a game, you'll see that Notre Dame is very, very tame with the vast majority of participants acting as civil human beings unlike some other schools (i.e. the majority of the Big 11 schools.)

      I'm all for the locals coming over and having a great day and enjoying the ND experience just like anybody else. It's very simple though: alumni, subway, or a local resident coming out to have some fun on a Saturday morning, act with some measure of decency and control yourself.


    7. Anonymous says:

      Why doesn't the University focus on addressing off campus crime in partnership with the town and the state instead of setting up texting for tattletales. The Indiana State Liquor Control descends on South Bend every game day weekend and works the tailgates and the off campus parties. Who asked them to show up? ND security? The SB cops? Why do they even exist? Nothing like that here in Illinois that I have ever heard of. Maybe save some taxpayer $ by leaving that stuff to the local law enforcement. Why don't they throw some resources at college kids getting mugged in the Bend? Same old stuff as it was when I was living off campus 26 years ago, the Univ doesn't really care about what goes on in that area and doesn't stick up for its students or, according to the recent posts about what is going on even at the stadium and the tailgates, the alumni. Same old same old.

    8. The administration's response to last fall's explosive problems thus far have been Nixonian lawyer-assisted double speak. After almost 11 months of silence, not a single word has been uttered by the BoT, CSC or senior administration officials re:

      + which former "endorsed" security and safety behaviors are no longer acceptable, and

      + which people have been held acountable, disciplined or reassigned.

      This modified limited hang-out strip teasing of ND's revised enhanced gameday techniques (a kinder, gentler gameday DuLac) is hamhandedly disrespectful of its fans and oblivious to the instituion's ugly behavior towards them.

      How about an apology? Naw, we stakeholders aren't deserving of that – ND's liability lawyers tell them so.

      I cannot fathom why ND has wandered so far from Vita, Dulcedo et Spes.

      – nd71

    9. Anonymous says:

      I am an out of towner non student fan who has made many on campus visits to attend an ND home game.
      My suggestion is to forbid Alcohol
      on campus with a Large large Fine. People who want to drink can and should stay home or attend a bar.
      I also would ask the University if the need too, to distibute alchol through Campus approved locations and police them thoroughly.

    10. As a fan who has attended many games over the years, the best way to improve gameday is to find a way to rid the stadium of all those "know-it-alls' who sit on their asses, bitch the players and coaches up and down continuously and contribute NOTHING to the experience.

    11. Anonymous says:

      All of the new changes to the game-day experience may sound great, but it is the attitude of the enforcers that is critical. For years, Cappy Gagnon has been in charge of the usher program. He has been the promoter of harsh tactics(beer nazis,etc) and by his example and his leadership has caused his hard-nosed attitude to become the standard for many of the ushers. However, after all of the supposed "changes" the University leaves him in charge of the usher program. He should be reassigned and the program turned over to someone who really will improve the game-day experience. Nothing ever changes if the leadership that caused the problems stays in control!

    12. Guys, this is COLLEGE FOOTBALL! A little raucous fun and indiscretion is what it's all about! If you want something that you can shield your kid with and a place to have "family time" take them to freaking Disney World!

    13. Anonymous says:

      i plan to use beer cozys and maintain a low profile, just as last year. cappy needs to be replaced, simple as that. nothing is going to happen unless we form a huge boycott, they'll never get the message.

    14. irish65domer says:

      As an alumnus, season ticket holder, and a native South Bender, I am disgusted by the lack of spirit at the tailgaters and, especially, the games. I drink before, during, and after the game, scream my head off, and offer somewhat nasty comments to the opposing team, band and fans, if needed.

      More like that is needed, not less. My first games were in the '40s and I have seen a terrible drop off of the ND stadium as a place to be feared by the opposition. They now take glee in being loud and wonder why they can be heard when they are outnumbered 15 – 1.


    15. Anonymous says:

      I suppose your definition of "wild tailgates" would include our weekly game of can of shame, hourly shotguns and full beer flip cup. And even after such 'athletic' events, we still have the energy to STAND the entire game and lose our voices (and buzz) by the 3rd quarter.

      I'm not hurting anyone or throwing empties at your kids so lets cut the crap. The text-a-drunk program will be abused by grumpy alumni. This program will flop.

      -(OF AGE) Student

    16. Anonymous says:

      I will be there having a good time, maybe will even do a few beer bongs.

      What a joke! As a recent alumni and ticket holder, I will never understand the people that have an issue with college kids getting a little drunk. Of course there is a point where laws need to be enforced, but in 99% of the cases at ND, they don't. Tailgating 10 years ago was awesome.

      Last year was the final straw. Two kids sitting in front of me at the game were reading Little House on the Prairie books. I wanted to smacked the Laura Ingalls Wilder out of their parents.

    17. (OF AGE) Student –

      Please re-read the article. The enforcement I describe is not directed at students or student tailgates. You are true stakeholders of Notre Dame football, if not the truest, and ought to be left alone to have fun the way ND students have for decades. The enforcement activity is most correctly directed at the uninvested, not the invested. As for you, I hope you have 7 great days of tailgating this season.

    18. Anonymous says:

      ND and its football should be unified pride, not bickering. Stand up and shout. If you expect our team to put every ounce of energy into it, the fans need to dominate as well. Be 31-30. Be great. Be Irish!

    19. As far as the text-a-complaint, other schools (Florida, UT, OSU) have used this system for longer than ND. Have you ever tried to make a phone call in the stadium? Even in the "quiet" section, it is near impossible. This texting capability is designed to be a more reliable way to report legitimate trouble, not a little snitch tool.

      Remember that text messages can also be traced back to the originator, and frivilous texts will either be discarded, or solved by other means (removal of the offender).

      I think the university is on the right course, although I, too would like a return to the days of RV's showing up on Friday night and staying until Sunday. Now those were some good (and not out of control) tailgates.

      Go Irish!


    20. The administration has already done its job to stop the the fun on notre dame saturdays. By hiring head coaches with no talent. (Please) who wants to tailgate only to be back in the parking lot by the end of the third quarter.

    21. this last post is priceless!!!!!