Notre Dame Football Setting Example For Other Programs Around the Country

On Juneteenth, the University of Notre Dame, particularly its football program, set a shining example for other Universities around the country.  In particular, Notre Dame’s student-athletes displayed the quality of character that Notre Dame fans can sometimes take for granted in a display of leadership and maturity that is remarkable for a group of college-aged kids at a time when we’re more used to seeing demonstrations of selfishness, privilege, and ignorance by spring breakers breaking quarantines and ignoring social distancing to drink on beaches and in streets.

Notre Dame has stepped up in a significant way over the last few weeks at a time of turmoil and unrest in the country while other Universities have either been unable to get out of their own ways or, worse yet, displayed the kind of ignorance and lack of awareness that has been too commonplace.  See Mike Gundy, for instance.

Up until now, I have not written too much about it because, to be honest, I sometimes consider myself barely qualified to write about something as trivial as a game like football, let alone complex social issues that require more delicacy and nuance than I am really qualified for.  That said, it doesn’t take a sociology Ph.D. to see that what Notre Dame did yesterday on Juneteenth was a remarkably powerful statement from the University.

Brian Kelly has been vocal for the last few weeks that he needs to listen to his players and do more with his platform than he has in the past. Notre Dame as a whole has been amplifying the voices of their student-athletes more so than most universities around the country.

In particular, 5th-year senior defensive end Daelin Hayes has stepped up and displayed maturity and leadership beyond his years.  His speech yesterday was particularly moving.

Hayes was not the only Notre Dame football player to take on a leadership role yesterday, though. Senior Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa opened the ceremonies with a prayer and walkon defensive lineman Max Siegal gave a powerful speech as well.  Brian Kelly gave a thoughtful speech as well.

Notre Dame’s student-athletes have stepped up and displayed a lot of leadership over the last couple of weeks.  Daelin Hayes particularly has made it pretty easy to see that if there is indeed a season this year, he will undoubtedly be one of the team captains.  If there’s not, he has still displayed more leadership than we’ve seen from many Notre Dame captains over the years in his actions just within the last few weeks.

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Hopefully, the demonstration and action the University has shown thus far does not end with what happened yesterday, and it continues to use its influence and position to influence change positively.  Hopefully, they continue to amplify the message and voice of its student-athletes the way they have as well.  Even before yesterday, Notre Dame published works by Ajavon Litchfield, Braden Lenzy, and others.

Sadly, a lot of the messages of positivity Notre Dame’s been posting and amplifying on its social media accounts have been met with some ignorance and narrow-mindedness.  Hopefully, those voices continue to be drowned out by those voicing support for what Notre Dame, its administrators, its coaches, and its student-athletes have been doing.

Lastly, hopefully, I did an okay job at finally putting some pen to paper, so to speak on all Notre Dame has been doing.  What they are doing is very important at a moment like now deserves all the amplification it can get.

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11 Comments

  1. I just saw online that a Mississippi State running back says he will not play under the State flag until the Confederate flag is removed. That’s a lot to give up for principle. Good for him. So I thought I’d treat you guys to some Faulkner; “In Mississippi the past is never dead. It is not even the past.”

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Sports becoming more and more political is going to continue to drive fans away. Statistics are already showing that across leagues that started doing this within the last few years. Regardless if you agree or disagree with what the players, coaches, owners, etc. are all trying to push, most sports fans just want to watch sports and leave the political stuff elsewhere. America in general is becoming so emotional based in their thoughts/reactions rather than being logical and looking at hard facts which is a major problem in itself but that’s another conversation. Sports used to unify us because it was just about the game. Now it is simply causing even more divide.

  3. I listened to Daelin’s speech.   I am impressed with his passion and with his ability to express his thoughts, beliefs and ideas so articulately and confidently.  He can be proud of himself for taking the time and energy to research, think and act on an issue which is so important to him and the country.  

    I hope he and his teammates can learn about one of the root causes of black children requiring so much mentoring. 74% of them are born out of wedlock.  I expect Notre Dame considers this to be a sin. Whether it is or is not, it is a part of the culture which is detrimental to the black community. I hope the cultural competency course he is advocating will educate them about this root cause of the terrible conditions in which too many of them find themselves living.   

    And as an aside I understand Daelin wanting to mourn George Floyd but not to “honor” him. George was not an honorable man.

    Go IRISH!

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    1. STB you are so right while i will always feel that all of us can learn and always treat each other as equals, i continue to fine it troubling that such a large percentage of black children are born out of wedlock, and feel it continues to be an underlining problem that must be corrected.

      1. STB and Carl: It seems to me that family units in black communities were stronger in the 50’s and early 60’s before the Great Society programs. A return to powerful Methodist, Baptist and Pentecostal Churches in those communities would be a big help. Of course this is an observation from outside the black community, and therefore it may not tell the whole story (or even half of it!) But it does seem to me to be a key element. When I was in primary school we had two classrooms of 40 kids each for each grade at St. Catherine’s of Alexandria. We ran 5 Sunday Masses – all were jammed with adults and kids. Today we are lucky at my parish to see 10 children at either of the two Masses we run on Sunday (pre-Covid numbers)…and they are often with grandparent’s, not Mom or Dad. So it is a more widespread problem than your posts would indicate.
        It’s sad, really.

  4. So it’s time to speak up? Reparations are overdue…from the Southern states and DC and Maryland…not the Northern States. I must have missed the Juneteenth recognition of the last Union soldier to die in the Civil War…he was a Hoosier fighting far away from home along some creek in Texas (the home state for the Juneteenth celebration). What recognition did he get? Or any of the North’s dead or maimed? The answer seems to be that his descendants, and every descendent of the North’s dead haven’t paid enough for the sin of slavery in the Southland. Well let me speak out on that, as a Hoosier who hates the Klan and the Stars and the Bars in Indiana: get those reparations out as quick as possible…from Southern descendants…that’s justice long overdue! But from we of the North understand this: over my moldering dead body before one red cent of Hoosier tax money. The North will rise again…Glory, Glory Hallelujah. And if nobody else in my state rises against this Congressional injustice, I’ll do it myself…starting at Kruger’s Korner Klub just 4 blocks from my residence. Let the slave states pay the long overdue reparations…not the descendants of those who fought under the Battle Flag of the Republic. This has been on my mind for three decades while I was silent…well: no more. BGC ’77 ’82

  5. Thanks, Frank.
    Well said; timely and relevant and revealing . . .
    If silence is compliance, then this outspoken leadership among the ND football family has been both heard and exemplified. I’m not surprised ; but it’s great that you have decided to refocus on WIN (What’s Important Now) !

    1. MTA: “Silence is assent” has not been an accepted legal interpretation of silence since medieval times…but your point is well taken. For far too long loyal Hoosiers have said nothing about the Klan in Indiana…and the sad result is that Indiana, since the 1920’s, has led the country in Klan recruitment. So yes, it’s long past time for Southern sympathizers in Indiana to take down their rebel flags and disband whatever Klan affiliations are leftover in Indiana. And long past time for guys like me to speak up publicly, not just in the classroom or at the dinner table. Shout it from the housetops…Stars and Bars DOWN and Klan out – NOW.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  6. Thanks for sharing Mr. Hayes video as was very inspiring. I wish that I would have the opportunity to speak to Mr. Hayes on this important topic so that I may be able to understand better the strife on people of color so that we can stand together.

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