I love Notre Dame football. Growing up in northern Indiana, it’s easy to fall in love with the autumn colors, the crisp fall air, and the pageantry around college football. And, Notre Dame has always been my team. There have been some great years during my days following them, including of course their last year as champions in 1988 with Lou Holtz at the helm. There have been some dark days as well, especially 1993 when Florida State stole the title from them, even though they had the same records and Notre Dame beat them that season. Of course, recent years haven’t quite been my cup of sunshine either.
My disdain for a certain team from Boulder, Colorado runs deep. As does my indifference (too kind a word, perhaps) toward Nebraska and Florida State, not surprisingly. We all too often throw the word “hate” around when it comes to sports teams we dislike. I suppose it’s all in good fun, but it certainly reminds us that our loyalty to the teams we love can run very, very deep. At times, I admit, too deep. At times, I confess, I defend “my” team to a level that leaves me definitively and even ignorantly biased. Notre Dame can do no wrong … at least in my mind.
We would be naïve to believe this type of emotion doesn’t manifest itself quite easily in many of us when it comes to other topics of culture. All too often we hold ourselves and our ideals up to being not only better, but even possibly the only that are “right.” We don’t like to allow for the possibility that we might not be #1, as if that’s supposed to matter anyway. Growing when in this stage of defense requires an open mind. A mind open enough to admit that perhaps the joy derived from football itself surpasses my love of Notre Dame. Yes, I do watch CU, Nebraska, and FSU play football as well … and I enjoy it immensely.