I’ve always been a firm believer in introducing change slowly. For instance, private rooms for the lads. Sure it’s nice to live in your own broom closet, rather than a human barn; but what sort of mischief will a lad get up to all alone without 50 brothers to snitch on him. Or take electricity. Though I was assured it didn’t explode like gas, it seemed to be an awfully magical source of power, and that could only mean one thing: Freemasons. Even football. I knew the CSCs would love watching the bigger boys beat the hell out of each other, but would the students and alumni really take to this violent sport? Wisdom dictates that you bring in these changes by gradual phases, so as not to upset folks too much.
This wisdom is apparently not shared by the Stadium. We have two jarring changes coming in just a matter of two fortnights. First, there will be open seating in the student section. I will henceforth call this “Pamplona Seating” and I will address it later. Second, there will be no satchels, rucksacks, pouches, or bags of any sort allowed into the entire Stadium for anyone in attendance. I will address this policy change now.
Very simply, I love it.
This is a football game, people, not a camping trip! What in God’s Name could you possible need that requires you to haul a 50-pound haversack into the Stadium? Besides which, there’s hardly room for two fit and thin gams between the benches, much less a purse you could fit an infant in. Now I know I have a vow of poverty, and therefore the number of possessions I need to tote into a football game is limited to a Rosary and a flask…of Holy Water. But both of those are essential to helping the team win. You can’t tell me that a padded seat for your already amply cushioned fanny, a basket of finger foods and various delicacies, and a trove of electronic devices are anything but manners in which to distract yourself from your entire purpose in being present in the Stadium – cheering for the team!
For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about giving up traditions and adding vulgar modern innovations to the House that Rockne Built, the “Bag People” certainly feel the need to gussy-up their little (and I mean little) portion of the stands. You’re sitting on a plank so narrow even Blackbeard would feel bad making a traitor walk down it. Don’t try to make it more like your well-appointed sitting parlor. Embrace it in all of its austerity, unchanged since the days of our Nordic hero! And if you don’t like your plank-seat, stand up and cheer!
Despite this exhortation to embrace the Stadium’s new spirit of holy holdall poverty, I know we’ll all hear quite a few strident voices come the 31st. Here are just a few standards that will be trotted out by people told to leave the sea bag behind:
“Do you know who I am?”
Please tell me so I can revoke your ticket privileges.
“Do you know who my husband is?”
Will he still be your husband after his ticket privileges are revoked?
“What am I supposed to do without all this?”
Cheer. Or go home and enjoy ‘all this’.
“I know Fr. Jenkins.”
So do most of the people here, since the attention-fiend sends out a lot of Christmas cards.
“I know Fr. Hesburgh.”
And he’s known all the Popes, Presidents, Cardinals, Senators, Secretaries-General of the UN, and Alumni from the last 60 years…where do you fit on that list?
“Do you know how much money I give this place?”
Not enough for the naming rights on the Stadium, so keep trying!
“I fought two wars for this country and you’re telling me I can’t bring a bag into the Stadium?”
Your service is noble. Now pretend the other team are the Germans or the Japanese or the North Koreans and show us how you did it.
“Whose stupid decision was this?”
The Blessed Mother. Write Her a letter, ball it up, and throw it in St. Mary’s Lake. Or set it on fire with a candle at the Grotto and let the smoke rise to heaven.
“If this doesn’t change, I’m never coming to another game here ever again.”
You’d probably be happier up the road in a little town called Ann Arbor. They’ve got a giant stadium that caters to loud-mouthed, self-impressed, egomaniacs and all their baggage.
As for what we might hear in the student section when the gates open for Pamplona Seating, aside from a lot of filthy cursing and panicked screams:
“Don’t push me too hard – I have a bag of wine taped to my back.”
“Are you playing interhall this year? Block for me, we’re going for Row 1.”
“Do you know who my Dad is?”
“Thank God I did Bengal Bouts.”
“I fell down so many stairs that I either wet myself or my flask burst…damn, it was my flask.”
“Do you know how much money my Dad gives this place?”
“Can a Rosary be used like brass-knuckles?”
“I know Fr. Jenkins…and we must have really screwed up because he’s sitting right next to me.”
Student 1: “Man, you really decked that usher to get to the front row seats.” Student 2: “What? I don’t care about front row seats.”
“I think I just broke parietals in that pile-up.”
“Don’t worry…we’ll have the good seats all to ourselves — I ate Dining Hall Mexican and Thai last night. Just make sure I don’t get squeezed going through the gate.”
I firmly support both the end of the Bag People as well as Pamplona Seating. Fans will enjoy not feeling like they’re surrounded by pack mules. Students with the zeal necessary to fight through will be closer to the team on the field. Happy fans and happy students cheer more. And if you’re an angry alum who feels naked without his attaché or her clutch, if you’re a surly student who wants a better seat, then give vocal vent to your aggression – the other team can’t distinguish between cheering and hurling abuse at the injustices of the Stadium.
Change is coming. You’ve got 22 days to get ready. Sew bigger pockets into your pants. Practice the flying wedge with your section-mates. But above all, be prepared to cheer – that’s the only reason we let you into the Stadium in the first place.
Son, in 199 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm pretty tight with Him.
Now I’m going to tell you a whole lot of things I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew me. I was along before your time, but you all know what a tradition I am at Notre Dame. And one of the most important things I ever said was, “Friends, sometime when my University is up against it and the breaks are beating the students, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win at everything for Padre. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be then, friends,” I said, “but I’ll be looking right over your shoulder.”