In an effort to combat the infamously funereal atmosphere inside Notre Dame Stadium, the ND athletic department is launching a new initiative for 2012 home games: "Take A StaND," which politely suggests to Fighting Irish fans that, maybe, under some circumstances, it could theoretically be acceptable to consider the possibility of standing up and cheering at a football game – even if your seat isn't located in the student section! Signs and other "Take A StaND" reminders were tastefully disseminated across campus for the home opener against Purdue earlier this month, and the effort is getting a little extra push this week ahead of Saturday night's showdown with Michigan.
Like most breaches of tradition, the catalyst in this case is results, or lack thereof. Including the 20-17 win over Purdue on Sept. 8, Notre Dame is just 18-16 at home over the last five seasons, with multiple home losses in all five, and hasn't gone unbeaten in South Bend since 1998. In a piece for the game program, an athletic department spokesman gently hinted that ND is interested in creating a less welcoming environment for opponents … maybe even, lord willing, one that borders on "hostile":
Notre Dame Stadium, its ushers and other University ambassadors have had a long history of extending hospitality to visiting teams. It's common, particularly when an opponent plays in Notre Dame Stadium for the first time, for visiting fans to remark on the welcoming atmosphere they find.
[Athletic director Jack] Swarbrick would like to see that welcome end once the opening kickoff is in the air. He'd like to see a change to the 17-16 home record Irish teams have recorded over the last five seasons combined.
If you're paying attention this weekend and in the weeks to come, you are likely to come across the phrase "Take A StaND." It's a subtle, yet pointed, way of encouraging fans at all Irish events to become more participatory.
Earlier this month, Swarbrick personally told the South Bend Tribune he's out to change the culture at home games, specifically the "group of season-ticket holders" who complain about noise and frequently deploy ushers as foot soldiers to quash any potential violation of AARP-approved decorum. As the newly released video at the top of the post indicates, the university is officially siding with the rowdies.
Oh, and the piped-in RAWK music that got so many alumni so hot and bothered last season? It's not going anywhere, either. Deal with it.