Friday, October 18, 2013

A Different Kind of Game Day....

Fridays in the fall are special. And football fans know why...  Game day is nigh.

As a Notre Dame alum, I don't know that I will ever forget that feeling that accompanied a home football weekend. It was one of great anticipation. Who was coming into town for the game? What family members would visit? Who would speak at the Pep Rally? What celebrities were rumored to be on campus—including my all time favorite—Would Pearl Jam really perform at Senior Bar (before the Florida State match-up in 1993)? And why was Tony Gwynn there? Today, however, my appreciation for game day has only deepened because of the comprehensive experience that the University offers. 
There was a time when Notre Dame was considered "just a football school"—although a Catholic one. Thanks to the vision and efforts of Father Hesburgh, the University was transformed to a first-class, co-ed academic institution. Today, its faculty, research facilities and graduate schools are renown. And I believe the continued evolution of the game day experience—now a game weekend—is a humble yet thoughtful reflection of who we are, what we do and why "we are ND."

I received an e-mail from Alumni Association director, Dolly Duffy about On  the Sidelines: Football Fridays Academic Series, I wish I had attended the one given when I was on campus for the Michigan State weekend.  Instead, I was playing golf on the impressive Warren Golf course.  A first rate course, I was delighted that my alumni discount made the price quite reasonable. For those who may not have the time to play 18, there is a nine hole course on campus that is even more affordable. I have played both, and was able to rent clubs and play with fellow alumni who I met on the first tee! Oh and both parties invited me to their tailgate the next day...

And yet golf isn't the only sport worth considering on game weekend. Throwing a football at some time on any given quad is mandatory and so is walking the breadth of campus or running around St. Mary's and St. Joseph's lakes. For those who are seeking to channel their inner-linebacker, Rolfs Sports Recreation Center as well as "The Rock" are open up to 80-minutes before game time.
It was announced earlier this week that the Pep Rally for the USC weekend will be held outside, with Touchdown Jesus serving as a striking backdrop. Special guests include the 1988 National Championship team with Coach Lou Holtz speaking upon the 25th anniversary of their undefeated season.

When the real "game day" actually arrives, there are honestly too many traditions to count. I encourage you to develop your own and give thanks for two that struck me as important. 

One is that there is an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting on Saturday morning in the Center for the Social Concerns. A football weekend, with ample time in bars or at tailgates, may be difficult for some. As an ardent supporter of the 12-step program, I am grateful that this resource is readily available and promoted on campus.  

And in that same building is a series called "Saturdays with the Saints." Each one-hour presentation is given by a distinguished ND faculty member . John Cavidini, chair of the Theology department, created the series to nourish our faith in a new and fresh way—by offering talks about holy men and women who serve as "windows of God's love."

I was impressed by the varied ages of those in attendance, their thoughtful questions and the Christian witness of the professor. Margaret Pfeil, struck me as a holy woman who wasn't just teaching us about the Four Women Martyrs of El Salvador. Rather, she challenged us to live as these women did—with joy, for the poor and in solidarity with those who suffer. 

It is also worth noting that there are three other series of lectures: Saturday Scholar Series, Saturday Science Exploration Series and The Dooley Society Lecture. I hope this serves as one way to defend the cost of tuition?

I wonder how Game day will continue to evolve in the years to come...
I envy those who are there for this special weekend...
I am grateful the many game days past and for those to come!

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