Somehow sitting in/near the Notre Dame student section? Here are some basic guidelines on how to survive and thrive in that scenario.
With the 2016 college football season just 126 days away for Notre Dame football fans, it’s time to begin planning next season’s trips to games. Everyone is busy booking places to stay, spending inordinate amounts of money on tickets, and planning out their activities on game day weekends.
For game day Saturdays at Notre Dame, the main event is, needless to say, the actual game. Where you sit in Notre Dame Stadium does not matter a great deal considering just about every seat has a fantastic view of the events on the field, but there are certain areas of the stadium where fans should be aware of what they are getting into and how to behave.
The most important one, of course, is the Notre Dame student section, because it’s really the only portion of the crowd in South Bend that gets even the least bit rambunctious (at least relative to some of the rowdiest college football environments). So, if you somehow find yourself as a non-student in the student section, or even right behind or next to the student section, please see the below guide for how to interact with others and how to not ruin the game for the most important fans, the current students.
You best be ready to stand
This is non-negotiable. There have been countless stories of cranky old fans complaining about passionate fans who are standing and yelling to support the team during game play, and oftentimes ushers even wrongly tell those people to sit down (it’s a football game, folks…if you don’t want to stand and yell during critical moments, watch from your couch). However, in the student section, everyone stands for the entirety of the game, leading to an environment quite conducive to getting all riled up and supporting the team.
If you are in the student section or behind the student section, do not complain about their standing stature. Do not complain that you can’t see the field from your seat. Do not complain at all. You get to sit near the most excited and loudest fans in the stadium, and if you actually love Notre Dame football, their spirit should be contagious to you. You should be on your feet as well, yelling savage things and constantly moving your arms in that “hey everyone else, stand up and get loud” motion that really doesn’t work but makes you feel good about doing anyway.
Encountering coarse language comes with the territory
Now, I’m not saying that everything yelled by the student section is going to be appropriate or okay. There are disgusting and obscene people in the student body just like there are in any mass of people. However, overall, the student section is pretty great about yelling things just crass enough to be edgy and funny without being grossly offensive.
Do not complain about this. These are college students and you are sitting in their section at a sporting event where huge guys collide violently with each other while wearing a bunch of plastic equipment. Enjoy the game, add whatever slightly coarse commentary you like, and DO NOT try to get students in trouble with ushers just because they clearly had more fun than you in the tailgating lots. You’ll have a much better time if you just expect some PG-13/R-rated language and let it enhance the excitement of the game.
So does some jostling and just general risky business
I remember in 2012, during my senior year, the moment when the Irish stopped Stanford on the goal line in OT to win the game. I’ve never felt that level of euphoria at a sporting event before. It was the purest, most elated feeling – utter bliss.
And you want to know how my friends and I, along with the rest of the student section, celebrated that stop (and then the subsequent review and announcement that the play on the field stands)? We leapt down probably six rows of bleachers in complete jubilation, mobbing and hugging and jumping on each other as we prepared to celebrate a 6-0 season start and the beginning of our fall break.
My point here is that the student section is a physical, intense experience. The students are going to go nuts for big plays. They’re going to lift each other up for push-ups (and probably drop each other on more than a few occasions). They’re going to be drunk and moving around and jumping up and down and just generally having a good time.
Again, enjoy that. These are 18-to-22-year-olds who have been tailgating all day and now are pumped up to watch our favorite football team perform at a (hopefully) high level. Let them have their fun, don’t be offended if someone bumps into you or stumbles off a bleacher into you (this happens frequently, even for sober students. Irish-jigging on a bleacher seat can be very difficult for many of us who are not quite so nimble), and let their partying in the stands move you to do some yourself.
You better bring your energy
This brings me to this point, which is a simple one. All the kids around you are going to be hype as hell to beat whoever the opponent is. They’re going to be loud and engaged and they will set the tone for the entire stadium’s energy. Do not be the person who drags them down. Don’t stand there quietly, glaring at the kids making too much noise or having too much fun.
Instead, try living a little. Have fun. Dance to “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada when the band plays it. Be a kid for a few hours.
It will go a long way to making the game experience that much better for everyone around you, and for yourself.
Follow along with the actions and chants
The students will have lots of chants and songs and lots of hand motions and dances to go with them.
Observe them. Take notes on them. Learn them.
There are few things cooler to see than an entire student section doing the same chant or motion or dance, however simple or stupid. Sing along with Cathy Richardson’s classic tune before going bananas when “Shipping Up to Boston” gets pumped through the loudspeakers. Do the Celtic Chant. Throw up your K’s during the “Kelly” chant heading into the fourth quarter. Help put people up for push-ups, or even volunteer to go up yourself. Stay after the game to link arms with everyone during the Alma Mater and take in that emotional and connecting experience.
Do whatever you have to do to be involved and a part of the ND student section. I promise you that it will be worth it.
If it’s mid-to-late-November, bring a container to collect a free, sweet snack!
Senior Day means the Senior Day Marshmallow Fight* at halftime for the seniors. Those bad boys are delicious and will be flying everywhere, as the seniors very surprisingly do not contain their tosses to just their section.
Bring in a container of your choosing (bag, plastic Tupperware container, cardboard box, backpack, duffel bag, what have you) and collect a wonderful dessert or second half snack for later. Capitalize on your fantastic proximity to such a sweet tradition.
*Please note that the picture to the right is not a picture of the Senior Day Marshmallow Fight. It was simply the only picture I could legally use in this article that had the word “marshmallow” in the caption. I felt it was relevant and hilarious enough to include.
Overall, have fun and enjoy a Fighting Irish victory in the House That Rockne Built
So, I hope this was a nice little reminder on how to navigate the Notre Dame student section, should you find yourself a part of it in some fashion. Be prepared to stand, partake in lots of chants and jumping up and down, and bring the noise (because no one else really seems to bring it in other parts of the stadium). Set the tone for all the other fans to get loud and support the Irish as they march onward to victory.
Embrace the environment, and thrive in it. You won’t regret it.