ND Free Pass: The spectator

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

The No. 1 sign atop Grace Hall was lit up. “What’s that for?” my husband asked me. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “Probably fencing. Notre Dame always seems to be No. 1 in fencing.”

Wow, I realized. That was snarky. Just because the ND football team couldn’t tell a field goal try from a TD pass didn’t mean I should be so cavalier about the work and dedication of ND athletes. Was my dismissive attitude fair to the fencing team? Or to whatever Notre Dame team had worked hard and gained the pinnacle of a No. 1 status?

Now some sports just don’t interest me. I can make no sense at all out of the game of cricket, partly because the goofy scores — “At the end of 12.4 overs, the score is 77 for loss of 7 wickets and eventually the entire team got out at 105 runs in 19 overs.” Say what? — make me believe its oh-so-proper announcers have secretly added more than oolong to their tea. Even worse, there’s fishing, which can’t possibly be a sport, because who do you compete against? A large-mouth bass?

Still, that often shining No. 1 sign made me I realize that a whole world of Notre Dame sports — games I’d never witnessed; teams I’d never cheered; fabulous efforts I’d never enjoyed — were available for my viewing pleasure, and I’d never taken advantage of them.

My award-winning grade school high-jump days are long behind me, and a gimpy right leg keeps me on the sidelines of anything but a slow stroll to the nearest concession stand, but I am a champion-level spectator.

So it seems time to use that ND Free Pass, that magic ticket that gets fans into all sorts of competitions, and see what I’ve been missing. Along the way, I’ll even pay to see the not-so-free sports — basically football, basketball and hockey.

This blog is not the Julie/Julia project. Making a fancy recipe a day would quickly send me screaming to 7-Eleven to feast on a hot dog that resembles an anemic, wrinkled Tootsie Roll.

But it is an open invitation to join me in sampling the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking.

Because any competition must have a goal to reach, I vow to share my view of all the varsity sports this school year. And, for fun, check out a few club sports. Can you cheer synchronized skaters?

And then we’re off. Literally. ‘Cause Cross Country is coming up. Come run with me.

The ND Free Pass column will offer a sampling of the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking. Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.