It’s more than a clever motto. If you’ve ever visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of Notre Dame, you may have seen this phrase engraved deep into the stone above the side door.
For the thousands of Irish fans across the globe, this phrase personifies the place that Notre Dame has in their lives.
But what does this phrase mean, and how does it impact the way Notre Dame Alumni and fans act or feel when it comes to the University of Notre Dame du Lac?
“God, Country, Notre Dame”
Quite literally, this phrase is meant to identify the importance of Notre Dame in the lives of alumni and fans; God first, Country second, Notre Dame third.
Nobody expects that, as a fan, you love the University more than your family, or occupation (you probably do love Notre Dame more than your occupation).
But it is a testament to the passion that the Notre Dame family feels for the University, its education, its athletics, and for one another.
As a Notre Dame fan or as a collegiate sports fan in general, you will hardly ever see a passive Notre Dame football fan.
By that, I mean that you will hardly ever see a Notre Dame football fan that doesn’t follow the Irish with some sort of consistency or passion. Some, however, are more passionate than others.
Not to pick on Ohio State, but I live in Ohio and work with Ohio State football fans. Sometimes in my conversations with some of them, I will bring up a game they had just played a weekend earlier and these fans will say to me, “Oh really, who did we play last week?”
Are you kidding me? You’re an OSU “fan” yet you don’t know who your team plays on a week-to-week basis? These are also the same fans who don’t watch OSU Football games unless they’re playing Michigan or in a bowl game.
I realize that this is just a small cross-section of OSU fans, but when it comes to Notre Dame, you rarely ever see this from a fan. This doesn’t mean that Notre Dame is better than Ohio State...actually, yes it does.
“Here’s to you, hopeless Notre Dame Fan”
I’ve seen the video, and I still think it’s stupid. But, they have one thing right: the passion of Irish Fans.
Every year, Irish fans fantasize about an undefeated season and a National Championship. And for many fans, the season is lost if Notre Dame falls to one opponent.
We will still watch the games and root for our team, but the season isn’t a success unless the Irish bring home a National Championship trophy, which hasn’t happened in a while.
In some respects, it’s a bit unfair, the expectations Irish fans put on the football team. But, they’re warranted.
Notre Dame is historically one of the best teams in the Nation, even if they haven’t been playing like it for the past decade.
Every year, Notre Dame competes for the National Championship and they have players that come to play football who want to do the same thing. And the fans expect that Notre Dame competes for a title every year.
Notre Dame is a school that can go anywhere in the country and recruit players. And, honestly, what’s better than playing football for Notre Dame: national spotlight, amazing education, exposure for professional football, and the country’s best fan base?
Notre Dame Is Everywhere
Notre Dame has one of the biggest fan bases in the nation. You’ve probably heard the statement that Notre Dame is to College Football as the Yankees are to professional baseball. In some respects, that’s true.
But, I think that Notre Dame has a bigger impact on college football than the Yankees do on professional baseball.
Think about it. Not many people are apathetic towards Notre Dame football. If they don’t tune into NBC to watch Notre Dame win, they tune in to watch Notre Dame lose.
This is why Notre Dame has a contract with NBC. This is why Notre Dame will always get picked up for a BCS bowl game if they qualify.
They are a money-maker for any network that shows them. This is largely in part to the expansive fan base. Notre Dame is, by far, the biggest team in College Football.
“This school was founded on faith, belief, and a commitment to excellence.” - Lou Holtz
There are many things that are associated with Notre Dame, but the biggest thing is a standard of excellence. This standard exists in all facets of the university and permeates many things.
One of the things that the standard of excellence is personified through is its fan base. Notre Dame has a reputation of being not only one of the biggest fan bases in the nation, but also one of the most cordial and accommodating to other people.
Many times people are blown away by the courtesy of Irish fans when they attend a Notre Dame game. Such was the case of some Stanford fans I sat by during last week’s game.
Every school has a few “rotten apples” when it comes to fans. And Notre Dame is not void of such people. However, with Notre Dame, there exists a brotherhood of fans that unites one another.
As a Notre Dame fan, this brotherhood follows you throughout the country due to Notre Dame’s expansive fan base.
A Tradition Like No Other
At Notre Dame, there exists a tradition that is present in everything that is associated with the University. Going to their first football at Notre Dame is a life-changing experience for some because of the vast amount of tradition found on the campus.
Derek Horner recently touched on this subject and everything he mentioned is correct. But, with Notre Dame, there exists a tradition that is bigger than the confines of the University itself, not just with football.
There is tradition in the structures and the people that make up this University. Father Sorin, Father Corby, Knute Rockne, Father Hesburgh, Ara Parseghian, these are all people who have had a hand in shaping the tradition of Notre Dame.
But, the list does not stop there. Notre Dame is a place where the tradition exists in anyone associated with the University alumni and fans alike. This is what makes Notre Dame’s tradition bigger and more impactful than any other school.
Not a Motto, But A Way of Life
“God, Country, Notre Dame” means more than a cliché to Notre Dame Fans. It is both a description of the passion and the tradition involved with Notre Dame.
It’s something that Irish Fans and Alumni cling to. It personifies the importance of Notre Dame in the lives of anyone who sets foot on its campus as a student, parent, teacher, or fan.
And anyone associated with the University embodies this commitment to it. And through them, Notre Dame remains “In Glory Everlasting.”