Cheering 101: Lessons for the new class
By BRIAN CHURNEY
Freshman year: it was a time when calling a date from the dogbook was acceptable, cramming 100 sweaty bodies in a room while drinking cheap beer was fun, and you actually bragged to your parents about meeting a football player.
It was a time when Bob Davie's infamous pep rally speech actually sounded genuine and original. Yes, those were the days.
Freshmen year wasn't all happiness and joy, though. Tough times were as plentiful as Ron Powlus overthrows. Many lessons needed to be learned in the classroom, in the residence halls and at football games. There were lessons: the songs, the cheers, the traditions.
But there were also the embarrassing lessons. Whether it be learning that third and 17, on the 25, when we're ahead by 28 points in the fourth quarter is not a key play. Learning that the chant of "Let's Go Irish" should not be performed during the alma mater, or learning that a one-point victory over Purdue does not warrant the charging of the field by the student section.
We upperclassmen have all had to learn from our mistakes. Like their predecessors, this freshman class has some invaluable lessons still to be learned.
So, take heed first-year students. These simple lessons could save you from future embarrassments.
In case any of these lessons confuse you, the upperclassmen, especially the seniors, can serve as a good example. These battle-trodden warriors have made the mistakes and have molded themselves into a perfect example of properly behaving spectators.
First of all, the loud cheering resonating from your section was uncalled for. Why would anyone cheer so loudly during the first game of the year? You should save those cheers until after the team has proven to you that they are a good team.
Plus, when watching football, it is important for one to appear sophisticated and cool. It's hard to do so while cheering and yelling for one's team. How do you expect to impress the fans around you unless you stoically watch the game and occasionally grunt?
The senior section has obviously learned this lesson through years of disappointing seasons with the Irish. We seem to be smoothly making the transition between the rowdiness of undergraduate cheering and the more sophisticated alumni approach of sitting on your hands.
After all, the grunting man dressed in the Cubs uniform really was the only thing that merited any sort of applause.
Secondly, there's absolutely no need to show any signs of school solidarity by purchasing "The Shirt." Now, in the past, one could dismiss this frivolous purchase due to the strange colors in which "The Shirt" was being printed.
But now, due to a wonderfully designed shirt, it is apparent that the decision concerning whether or not to wear the shirt has little to do with how the shirt looks. Instead it's the concept of actually looking like other people.
The football games are opportune times to show off your keen sense of fashion. So please, put that silly shirt away and wear something original to the game like J. Crew or Abercrombie & Fitch.
It seems that this is a lesson learned in time as well. In fact, the upperclassmen have learned this lesson so well that my father watching the game at home, asked me why they cut the student section off at the 20-yard line this year. It seems that the wave of blue symbolizing pride in your school tapered off after the 20.
Finally, if the game is out of reach like it was from the first quarter and beyond, feel free to go home. There's no reason to stay and cheer during a boring game.
The senior section has learned this alumni tradition as well. What was previously a struggle to fit people on the crowded bench became very comfortable, with all of the extra room provided by those early departures. What's more, to be polite so that those vertically challenged students behind them could see, some people just sat down. At least two lucky seniors missed Arnaz Battle's amazing run due to their politeness.
The point is this: At some point in the last few years of their time at Notre Dame, Domers, in general, seem to embrace the idea that they can no longer support their teams with the vigor that they did in the past.
We, as a student body, criticize our alumni section for their lack of noise and general lethargy during the games. At the same time, however, it seems that the attitude begins much earlier. It seems to be merely a continual decline in excitement peaking during the first year at Notre Dame.
OK, it was hot and the game did have an "exhibition-like" feel to it.
But it was still the first game of the year. If the newly initiated freshmen could stand the heat, despite the sun beating 1down on them the entire game, then the weathered veterans of Notre Dame games should have been able to stick it out.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not neccessarily those of The Observer.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, September 2, 1999