It’s not wrong to be critical of Notre Dame at this point.
In the fast-paced, “what have you done for me lately” world that is sports, it is quite easy to let our emotions get involved. College football is certainly not exempt from this notion. If anything, college football is one of the sports that knows this notion all too well. Notre Dame is no exception.
College football fan bases are made up of passionate people, people who sometimes make drastic overreactions. But in this article I don’t want to talk about those overreactions. I want to talk about legitimate criticism and its place in the sport world — specifically looking at Notre Dame as an example.
In the wake of Notre Dame’s marginal victories against what most deem to be lesser opponents, there has been a lot of talk about the caliber of Notre Dame football. Yes, “experts” have weighed in on College Gamed Day and the like. But so too have fans. Some of the criticism from fans concerning the Notre Dame football team rings more legitimate, while other takes might come across more like the emotional overreactions discussed above. But again, the focus of this article is legitimate criticism.
Not only is it perfectly fine to be critical of a team you love, but I would argue that it is imperative to be critical of the team you love. Being passionate about a team does not preclude you from being critical of that team. It is a sign of that passion. And passion is what makes the sports world go round.
If it were not for passionate fans, we would not have the landscape of sport that we have today.
At the root of one’s criticism of their favorite team is passion. People aren’t critical of their team because they want to put them down. They are critical of their team because they want to discuss things that might help their team improve. I don’t know one person who wants the team they love to lose. Yet, for some people, being critical of a team you love all but means you hate the team and do indeed want the team to lose. Why come back to watch a team year after year and spend the time to be critical of a team if you didn’t have anything but love for said team?
There is no denying that there are real criticisms to be made about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in their games against Ball State and Vanderbilt. You can talk about an offense that seems unable to put the nail in the coffin. You can talk about lackluster quarterback play at times. You can talk about predictable play calling. You can talk about Brian Kelly’s insertion of “chaos” into football practices.
You can talk about a lot of legitimate concerns that can be backed up with evidence.
I think it is important to recognize that any Irish fans discussing these criticisms have not died on the Irish. On the contrary, they care enough about the success of the team to dive in and analyze the phases of the game where the team could improve in order to be more competitive.
Do we want the job of criticizing our team to fall on the shoulders of those “experts” who may not share the passion for Notre Dame that we have?
We Irish fans are a part of one of the best fan bases in college football, and we are all in this together. We will all have different opinions at times, and some of us might be more critical than others. Being critical should never warrant the question “are you even with us?”
Again, it is easy to get emotional about the things we love. But none of our hearts are anywhere else than wanting Notre Dame football to beat every team on the schedule, even in our moments of criticism. Being critical is simply a sign of how much we care.
At the end of the day, Notre Dame is 3-0. While that is the best start a team can have at this point in the season, it does not mean the team is perfect. As long as the team is not perfect, there is always something to be critical about as the team moves toward tougher opponents. And this criticism should come without fear of banishment from the Notre Dame fan base.
These criticisms and varied opinions should be welcomed as evidence of us all wanting the same thing: Notre Dame to win a national championship.