From ‘Sachin-Sachin’ to ‘Go Irish’: My football experience.

When I first mentioned about Notre Dame to a family friend in the U.S., the first thing he told me was that the university has a great football team! The only thing I knew about American Football was that it’s unlike football that some other nations play.

Honestly, I’ve never been a sports (minus cricket) enthusiast, but when at Notre Dame, you cannot not be a football fan!  Just a week into the program, I heard everyone discussing the “Football Season”, and waiting for the tickets to go on sale. Feeling the hype around football, I thought I’d buy tickets for a couple of matches  games (I learnt: it’s not a match, it’s a game). I was told there are over 200,000 people on campus for game days – our stadium holds 85,000! The atmosphere is crazy and it’s super fun.

That’s all good, but I couldn’t imagine myself sitting and watching a football game for 3 hours. I’d been to a baseball game before in the College World Series at Omaha… and, it was boring! Indians are die hard fans of cricket, and nothing is even close to its popularity in India. It’s just very hard to sell us any other sport. Have you seen cricket before? Here is a snapshot of a match in progress (it’s a match in cricket).

Cricket is often called a gentlemen’s sport. At least this picture makes you feel that’s true.
Cricket is often called a gentlemen’s sport. At least this picture makes you feel that’s true.

It’s hard to get us Indians hooked to another sport, but the MSM program already has some great marketers in the making. I ended up buying not just a couple, but the entire season’s. I’ve never bought, or seen any of my friends buy tickets for all of the home matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL). But, I guess it makes sense for me now to go home and buy tickets for all the Delhi Daredevil matches in the future. (I’m already missing cricket.)

Anyways, it seems every football game at Notre Dame is like a festival. Just before my first game, I knew what everyone meant about it being crazy. There is a well-organized pep rally before each game, which is very cool! Everyone is in the game mood a day before the game. Some have the ND gear on, and some are in suits coming straight from a business meeting…doing whatever they have to in order to make there.

There is no limit to who is an ND fan… or how furry!
Author of the post.
Author of this post. Here is me, Mudit,. on the day of the first home game of the season and my first American football game ever.

Although, we don’t have pep rallies in cricket, people may hit the streets for a protest rally when India looses a high stakes match, people may hit the streets for a protest rally. Just different ways of showing love for the game.  My favorite part of the pep rally is the band performance. I’m a big fan of the ND band, and can’t praise it enough. I make sure to attend it before every game, and would highly recommend it to everyone else too. Even my friends back home, who have seen it through the video, absolutely love it.

Game day.

Tailgating. It’s fascinating how one word can refer to two completely different things. When I worked at Dell, employees were fined for tailgating (forgetting to check in their ID cards at the entrance). So, I always thought you could gain entry in the stadium even without a ticket, just by trying to tailgate the entire day. But tailgating before a game is actually free drinks, food, and just more drinks before the game.  That’s how it is; a rain check is not checking the weather, and tailgating is not free tickets.

Well, back to the game, but it’s not really about the game; at least not for noobs like myself. It’s the enthusiasm in the stadium that makes every Notre Dame game amazing and worth attending. (To me, it feels like walking into a India-Pakistan cricket match). There are over eighty thousand people, and when the teams run into the stadium the atmosphere is electrifying. The celebrations on a ND touchdown, the band, the skillful cheerleaders add to the experience. You don’t need to know the game to enjoy it. That said, I do understand the basics; thanks to Ashleen and Billy who gave me a thorough tutorial. Also, thanks to everyone who recommended that I purchase season tickets. I certainly would have regretted not buying them.

Until next time, Go Irish!

“Play like a champion today”

P.S.: What did I mean by ‘Sachin – Sachin’?  Sachin Tendulkar is an Indian cricketer, and for a further introduction, I’d quote ESPN Cricinfo:

In a nutshell Perhaps the most complete batsman and the most worshipped cricketer in the world, Tendulkar holds just about every batting record worth owning in the game..”.

ESPN is serious in calling Sachin Tendulkar as the most worshipped cricketer. Cricket fans all over the world (not just Indians) consider him to be the ‘God of Cricket’. Whether Sachin is on the field or not, the crowds just love to chant ‘Sachin – Sachin’, *claps*, ‘Sachin-Sachin’.