This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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. Some cheers unite the student section by celebrating achievements, while others unite the student section directly against the opponent. The Notre Dame Marching band plays the “Celtic Chant” multiple times throughout the game. As the music plays, the students pump alternating arms in time
with the music. This act not only makes the student section clearly distinct for its duration, but also joins the student section in a static motion. Since students are being kept active and in sync with the cheerleading squad, most can be observed as enjoying the chant. Since there are no official lyrics to the “Celtic Chant”, students often improvise lyrics while the song plays. CELTIC CHANTTTTTT!!!! In this short clip, a small group of students can be heard chanting, “We are awesome, we are awesome…” It is a common practice of students in the student section to positively praise themselves, the University of Notre Dame, and the football team—all these leading to positive emotional experiences from the chant. But as seen in the video, some students like the ones on the right, appear to be disengaged and indifferent towards the chant by their facial expression. As members in the student section, their will is restricted and they must participate in an attempt to enjoy themselves. Although they are pressured to participate they still display their indifference and demonstrate the governing authority of the student section. Another possibility is that they are simply not outwardly expressing their enjoyment of the chant and just keeping a relatively stern face. The marching band plays the “Imperial Death March” from Stars Wars in order to further unite the student section by vocally opposing the competition. The song itself is already one with negative connotation since it is used as Darth Vader’s theme in the film. The band unites the student section by targeting a common enemy—similar to Darth Vader. As the song plays the student section chants, “kill, kill, kill” while extending their arms and retracting them in a chopping-like motion. KILLLLL!!!!! Negative emotions that may be harbored by students are vented through the engagement in this song, and
vented towards a common enemy. Having a common entity that the students can displace anger on, allows the student section to come closer together in a new way and promotes a sense of community. It can be argued that this bringing together fosters a unique kind of relationship between students during the game and indirectly results in entertainment through the formation of a united group against the opposing football team. When students were asked what their favorite part of football games were, the most common responses pertained to watching the game with their friends and participating in the cheers. It is clear that the community environment is crucial in entertainment at home football games. One of the most popular cheers is actually one of the most powerful influences in engaging the student section in a active, fun way, while also bring the students together against the enemy of the opposition. The precise lyrics of the cheer differ depending on the opponent but the following video shows the students cheering against the Stanford Cardinal. SUCK ITTTTT!!! The Notre Dame Drumline plays an up-tempo beat to pump up the student section and the students repeatedly cheer, “ I wanna hear it. Go Irish! Go Irish! Beat Cardinal! Beat Cardinal!” The intended proximity of the Notre Dame Drumline to the student section allows for the students to get excited when this song is played. What makes it especially fun for students is that males and females each have their own part. First the men chant “go Irish!” and “beat Cardinal!”, then the women echo the phrases. The resulting effect is an intense chorus of distinct male and female parts that can be heard around the stadium.
There are also hand movements and other parts that are done by males and females separately in an entertaining way that can be observed in the video. This chant serves to exclusively entertain the students who are the only participants, and also foster community by chanting to the football team to beat the opposing team. Since the student section receives this special privilege to participate in the most fun activities throughout the game, many other groups often are jealous and seek ways to sneak into the student section. When the University of Michigan team came to play in Notre Dame Stadium a high school girl from Chicago snuck into the student section to be with her friends. She reported that it was her second time doing so and she did it because it was a lot more fun than being with her family in the general admission section. For the same home game, a Michigan fan had illegally infiltrated the student section and stood next to his friend who was a freshman of Notre Dame. People around him that didn’t know each other grew angry as he cheered on Michigan and celebrated their successes. These people that didn’t even know each other conspired about what graphic and violent things they wanted to do to him and would directly make fun of him and target him when Notre Dame would succeed or be winning. Also for the drumline cheer, students would yell at him and wave their arms millimeters away from his face to almost hit him. Just having a common enemy present, united strangers in a community due to their common values. Thus, the Michigan enemy resulted in strangers coming together as part of the same student body and further enjoying the victory of Notre Dame over Michigan.
Other game successes are celebrated with celebratory cheers led by the marching band and drumline. When the Notre Dame football team receives a first down the drumline plays another beat in which the students wave their arms to the beat in unison. VIDEOOOOOO of bothhhhh. This video shows a comparison of a majority of the student section and the edge of the student section among the general audience. At first, full support can be seen be the student section as all the arms move in unison. As the camera pans to the left, only a few arms are seen to be moving—and even those are due to pressure just from the close proximity of the student section. Even the general audience wants to participate in the student cheers so that they may have a chance to gain short highlights of slight entertainment. But at times, the individual participation of students in cheers can be somewhat unconscious. The student section always becomes rowdy after gaining yards, completing good plays, and scoring touchdowns—which are celebrated by hoisting a student into the air for “pushups”. Pushup youtube vidddd or sarahhhhh. All these activities can be visibly determined to be very entertaining for the students. But often times, students are unaware of what they are celebrating. After a huge running play when Notre Dame gained over 20 yards, one freshman girl, like the entirety of the student section, cheered and jumped up and down on the benches. When she was asked what had happened she replied, “I’m not completely sure”. Another instance at a home game, the whistle was blown over a controversial play. They play was reviewed and a call was made in favor of Notre Dame—leading to immense cheering and rowdiness from the student body. After the celebration settled down, one freshman boy was asked what the final ruling of the
call was. He confidently, yet incorrectly described the situation and what (he thought) had happened. Although he was wrong, he still unyieldingly participated with students around him in celebrating the success of the team. These examples highlight the phenomena of the restrictive nature of being within the student section. The two freshmen did not know why they were celebrating in each of their circumstances, but demonstrated no hesitation in celebrating with their fellow students, and the football team. PICTURE ON SIDE OF OLD TEXTERSSSS. Rather than sitting down, being so bored that one would have to check their phone in the middle of an entertaining spectacle, these students would rather conform and celebrate with the rest of the students for reasons unknown to them. But by conforming they ensure pleasure and entertainment as opposed to those in the general audience who are so disengaged that they lose interest in the contest. Critics would argue that the greater enjoyment of the game from the student section is not due to its “restrictive atmosphere” but rather from getting to watch their fellow students play in a game. But then why does the general audience not enjoy the game as much if they also are watching the same football game? The lack of restrictions in the general audience allows greater freedom for those in that section. But greater freedom means no implicit and explicit rules like the ones present in the student section. Without these rules, spectators in the general audience do not get to celebrate as freely, or it would be looked upon as strange by the others that surround them. Also some view the “restrictive nature” as being part of a football community. “It’s just football, it’s not controlling”. But if the behavior of the student section was just
characteristic of football viewing, the cheers and participation would not be mandatory for students. Rather, if students do no participate at first, they are forced to be those who surround them or scolded by the surrounding students. At the end of a Notre Dame Victory, the student section and the general audience both have enjoyed the event. They both support the football team. GO IRRISHHHHHH. But the student section proves to be the greater authority in the stadium. With this authority comes a restrictive atmosphere where students are forced to comply with certain regulations of how to participate in the crowd. But these restrictions unite the students as a single and visibly distinct entity in the stadium. They have the most influence on the football team with their high intensity participation in cheers, and rowdiness in celebrations. Although the students enter the stadium in the student section and unknowingly give up their freedom, it is an easy price to pay in order to get the most out of a home game and enjoy the experience to its fullest. As one student from Michigan said about Notre Dame student football fans, “You guys have the craziest, most dedicated fans”. Nowhere else but Notre Dame.