A history consisting of 11 national championship titles, 7 Heisman trophy winners, 43 players and 6 coaches in the College Football Hall

of Fame. Along with countless other statistics and rivalries, it’s no surprise that Notre Dame football attendance reaches its stadium capacity of 80,795 seats. But among the 80,795 seats, the game experience drastically differs across 2 visually distinct regions: the student section and the rest of the general admission seating. Molded from years of tradition, the student section has acquired an element of implicit and explicit rules governing appropriate conduct while at a home game. The unified authority of the multitude of the student section is a force capable of censoring the emotions that can be expressed freely during the game. Ultimately, it is this restrictive nature of the student section that creates a more enjoyable experience than that of the general admission seating. Before a student even goes to their first game, other experienced students often inform him/her about the traditions of the student section. These traditions include standing throughout the entire game, doing push-ups after scoring, participating in all the cheers, and wearing “The Shirt” to home games. Each of these traditions serves to unite the student section as one body in a unique way. The Shirt that is created every year functions to create a large arousing group that experiences losses of personal identity, self-constraints, and concern about being socially evaluated—deindividuation. Having the student section appear as one body distinguishes the group from the rest of the crowd in the stadium. By having the identical dress codes, the student section is unified and visually distinguished for other members to notice.

Although some of the rest of the audience wears The Shirt, they do not have enough participation to be visually distinct in the stadium. Many of those fans wear other kinds of Notre Dame apparel, which unite them, but not in the deeper way that is accomplished in the student section. The unity of the general audience through wearing similar Notre Dame fan apparel does not match the sense of belonging that is achieved through the dress code in the student section. This deeper sense of belonging created before the game even starts, is able to foster pleasure and enjoyment because each individual student is now part of the larger body. The characteristic of mere inclusion lets students know that they are not alone, and are accepted—resulting in a positive emotional interpretation for students. From the moment a student walks through the inner gate of Notre Dame Stadium, they can hear the din of yelling fans and the band playing. Walking towards the student section, the decibel level noticeably increases. Right away, the student section is able to establish its authority by being the loudest section of spectators in the stadium. The individual no longer exists in the mass but the student section becomes visible as a single commanding body. Also due to this authority, when students arrive at their seat, they are forced to stand or face harsh disapproval from the surrounding student section. The authority of the student section is strong enough to oppose any will to sit and already demonstrates the restricting nature of the section. But standing is the first step in crowd participation, which keeps students entertained. Active participation keeps students engaged throughout the game. This is a sharp contrast in comparison to much of the general audience who can often be observed as disinterested or not paying

attention during the game. PICTURE!!!! Since the students are not bored like their general neighbors, they stay entertained through the game and are able to enjoy the game more than the rest of the audience. At kickoff, the majority of the stadium participates in the “Go Irish!” cheer, but from scanning the stadium, 100% participation is only observed in the student section. In the case of a delayed response from a student, it is not uncommon for a fellow student to lift the first student’s arm to participate in the cheer, thus uniting the student section even further with one more link. Only two words, but they’re very powerful in asserting the authority of the student section. With the chorus of thousands of students all exclaiming “Go Irish!” the football team and everyone else in the stadium can hear who the dominant authority present is. Although forced to participate, individual students become part of, and therefore gain this authority. This rise to dominance at the kickoff begins students’ game experience with high positive emotions of importance and pleasure from being the main force that is able to positively influence and cheer on the football team. There are many cheers and chants that are required knowledge of the student section. A student must quickly learn these rituals and participate in them to remain a functioning part of the larger body and avoid rejection.

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