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Notre Dame Football

Frank Commentary

August 4, 2020

It seems strange that Fall Camp is supposed to start in three days.  At least, I think it’s three days.  We still don’t have a schedule, but I understand why.  I think we all realize this is a very fluid situation that everything could change at any time.  

Will it start?  How long will it last?  Will they even play a game?  Is this even a good idea?  

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and many, many more as we embark on what will likely be the strangest season of college football…if there is a season.  

I think the most important questions are:  should this even happen?  Why must it happen? 

“Should” is kind of out my realm of understanding.  I’m not a part of the University of Notre Dame, nor any school planning to play football.  I’m not a coach.  I’m not on the support staff.  I am not a player.  Because of these facts, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer if this should happen or not.  I don’t have all the health and financial information to make such a decision.  All I do know is I want it to happen, and so does everyone else.  

Why must it happen?  I think for a lot of reasons…most being financial.   There are a lot of people who have their futures and livelihoods attached to Notre Dame football, and to college football.  

We’ve already heard estimated numbers, like the potential $100m dollar loss that Notre Dame would likely face if there wasn’t a football season, but Notre Dame is just one part of the pie, albeit a large portion for sure.  Notre Dame is just one out of probably 50 teams who would lose at least $100m if the season didn’t happen.  That is just the Universities.  That is not everyone else who is also tied to these football seasons, and that list is very, very long.  

You have to consider all the hotels who mainly exist as an entity because of Notre Dame football.  Many local restaurants in the area also only survive because of the economic windfall six Notre Dame home games bring each fall.  Local grocery stores benefit greatly from the influx of ND fans each year, and so does anyone selling anything related to Notre Dame.  It even trickles down to the local convenience store owner who sells a whole lot more gas, soda, beer, and snacks because of six games each year.  Those businesses employ a lot of people—a lot of people who will likely be let go if there isn’t a season.  The financial losses for companies like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and the many other broadcast companies who rely on college football has to be astronomical when you consider how many people they employ and are tied to this.  

Obviously, our business is affected as well.  I’m not usually one to discuss financial affairs, and certainly not online, but it’s important that people understand why this is so important to so many people.  In our situation, our revenue is already down over $40,000 from last year.  If there is no season, I calculate it will be at least $100K in lost revenue we have to overcome.  It’s not just subscriptions we lose, it’s advertising revenue. We’re not just down in page views, but we’re also down in both the number of advertisers and what ads pay. I’m not here to say “woe is us.”  Somehow, we will get through it, but I print those numbers so people can get an understanding how important this is to many, many people.  We are just a pimple on the posterior of college and Notre Dame football, and it will likely impact us at least that much.   Imagine if you’re someone who employs a lot more people than I do…

Most of all, I think it needs to happen for our own sanity.  College football is a huge part of American culture, and I cannot remember a time where we’ve needed something positive and fun to happen more since the terrible events of 9/11. 9/11 was the most dramatic thing I’ve ever witnessed, and I think we’d all agree on that, but this pandemic has impacted FAR more lives than 9/11 ever did, and it’s impact looks like it’s going to continue to grow and grow before it gets better.  

I can’t remember a time in this country when people have been so miserable, angry and divided.  We need something to look forward to, rejoice in, and get behind.  

Having said all of that, I think there is one thing getting lost in all of this:  the Notre Dame players.  

True, all of these players have a potential financial stake in if they play or don’t play, so that certainly is a motivating factor for them, but they still have to do the work and take the risk.  We just sit back and watch.  

I can’t stand to wear a mask, but I do it every time I’m out in public.  I’m not here to argue the positives and negatives of wearing a mask.  I’m merely saying I wear one and I know how uncomfortable it is.  I only wear it for 30 minutes when I’m in a store or out in public.  Can you imagine wearing it all day in school, and then having to wear it all through lifting or football practice, and then through all the meetings and all the situations where you’re interacting with people?  At least most of us get to take it off when the work day is done.  These players won’t have that luxury.  They’ll be wearing theirs the entire day. 

They also will likely have to give up the vast majority of their social life to make this season happen.  They get very little social interaction to begin with considering the schedule they have, and because of that, they value what little social life they have more than the regular college student.  

Most important, they don’t want to let their team down and be the reason things get canceled.  That’s a lot of stress - nobody wants to be the reason something gets ruined.  

I think it shows both great character and leadership, not just from the players, but the coaches and the ND administration for coming up with a plan that appears to be working by keeping these kids safe and continuing to test negative so far.  

I don’t know about you, but I feel kind of guilty by wishing this season to happen.  For us, it certainly impacts us more than just a fan because of the financial portion of it, but even so, I just feel like we are sending out the gladiators to get seriously hurt or die for our own personal enjoyment.  While I think that statement is probably a bit dramatic, I don’t think many will get seriously hurt or die, if it’s even one player in college football, is that a price too high to pay?  

I think we just have to wish and hope for the best as that’s all we can do.

The price of not playing is a financial burden that will likely devastate a lot of families and businesses.  I know nobody at Notre Dame, nor the coaches or players owe us anything.  They’re playing and coaching for their own reasons, and I’m certain they’re not doing it so some local hotel can stay open or someone at ESPN can keep their job.  

What I am saying is that I’m grateful they’re at least going to try, and I hope Irish fans join me in thanking them for at least trying.  

It’s a real risk they don’t have to take…not just the players, but the coaching and support staff as well.  Notre Dame would survive without playing this year, and most of these college players would still have the opportunity to show potential professional employers that they are worth a draft pick or a contract.  They don’t absolutely have to play…and they may not.

I’m just thankful they’re going to try.  We need something to look forward to.  We need something to get our minds off of all the negativity that is surrounding us, and to smile, laugh, cheer, and hopefully (safely) congregate with family and friends to celebrate one of this nation’s best pastimes.  I’m thankful these guys are going to take the risk, and that we get to enjoy watching them try.  

I also hope it means we’re a bit kinder to them this year when they fumble, or drop a pass, or give up a sack, or miss a tackle, or make what we believe to be a bad coaching decision.  I hope we remember that they’re taking these risks for our enjoyment as well.  

I’m ready to accept whatever the outcome is, whether it’s one game or 12 or more.  I’m going to try to be a bit more understanding when things don’t go the way we all want them to go, because I’m going to try my damndest to remember that I need to be thankful they’re at least trying…for all of us.

I have no idea what to expect.  I don’t know if even one game will be played.  I just know that Notre Dame has a bunch of great young men who are risking their health to play a game we all love, and I hope we all remember that if/when they play.  If you know me, you may need to remind me of this often…Ha!  

God bless, and stay safe out there!  

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