Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fan Or Fanatic: Which Are You?

I've had some time to think things over after ND's 23-7 loss to MSU and have come to a very important decision: if any of you honestly believed ND would go 11-0 heading into the season finale versus USC you were sadly mistaken, if not delusional.

Apparently, and also unfortunately, there are many more of you than I thought. The link for "thought" is by far the most appalling of all (including the entire thread) but you can see what I am getting at. 

The main difference between fans and fanatics is that a fanatic's behavior violates prevailing social norms, even though fans can occasionally exhibit such behavior. Fanatical views stretch beyond normal human tendencies and reflect a great deal of immaturity. ND has way too many people that fall into the latter category and far too few in the former.

Don't get me wrong. I love Notre Dame. I love Notre Dame football. I also love the direction the program is heading in. Take a step back and consider the shambles we were in 4-5 years ago courtesy of a coach on one of the hottest seats in college football right now, save for Greg Robinson at Syracuse. I don't want to get into the entire story, so please click here for perspective on the issue, but the gist of it is that Tyrone failed to recruit. Namely, the O-line was ignored during his tenure roaming the sidelines at ND (2 recruits in 3 years!)

Weis has continued to show his humility, whether it be relinquishing play-calling duties, to traveling the country to various alumni gatherings, to implementing physical practices. Couple those changes with three straight top 10 recruiting classes (the most recent of which was touted as #1 by both Rivals and Scouts). Are recruiting rankings the end all be all to the success of a program? No. But it certainly helps to have players held in high regard than those dismissed by all of the top programs. 

Coaching develops the talent, so if our players fail to show improvement the onus is on Weis and his fellow coaches. You cannot honestly tell me, though, that there has been no improvement from last season to this season. Consider this: Michigan played the same defensive front four that devoured Jimmy Clausen in 2007 (8 sacks). That same front four recorded exactly ZERO sacks this time around in South Bend en route to an Irish victory last weekend.

Last year the Irish went 3-9 and no one in Leprechaun Land was pleased. At the start of this season ND won its first two games; not so impressively over SDSU but convincingly against bitter nemesis Michigan. The ND team of 2007 would have certainly lost the SDSU game. This year's team played with heart, emotion, and determination and did not become discouraged when things weren't going their way. The Irish remained focused and won the game. In the end, aren't we just concerned about wins and losses anyhow? 

Yesterday's loss to MSU, as it should be, was disappointing. I am not happy we lost. No Irish fan is happy we lost. There were several mistakes that cost us the game, but it was not a blowout. We remained competitive throughout the entire game despite our numerous mistakes. After a 3-9 campaign last year that should be enough. Last year's squad would have crippled and let their mistakes get the best of them and play even more to the advantage of the opposition. Yet, ND remained competitive and was within one score of taking the lead late in the 4th quarter yesterday. Despite these facts, however, and perhaps in spite of the obvious improvement from last year there are countless ND fans screaming for Weis' head and searching for possible replacements; fanatics.

What a joke. I was actually embarrassed to read the comments after the game. I hope, for the sake of the University, that the majority of the negative comments re: Weis, The Players, and The State of the Program were made by blackout-drunk buffoons. One would think that most people are smart enough to take things into perspective and not cry wolf when they see a tiny Chihuahua, although that doesn't appear to be the case.

The big picture is that anyone with a brain could have pointed out (and did) before the season (and even three games in) that the Irish were not going to be 11-0 going into the USC game. Many people predicted win totals anywhere from 5 to 8 (excluding a potential bowl game). These people understood perspective. I hope that none of them are the ones responsible for the radical comments as linked earlier in this post. If so, all hope is lost.

Would I rather see ND win all of their games? Yes. Would I rather see every offensive play result in a touchdown? Yes. Every defensive play a turnover? Yes. Every season a national championship? Yes. Human nature answers those questions with ease. 

People don't do things merely to be competitive. People do things to win. This is true in sports, business, and life. I don't walk into meetings with clients and tell them that I want to help them make money 90% of the time, let alone 50%. It's 100% all of the time. Will things always pan out that way? No, but at least I've tried to do the very best job I could and if that wasn't good enough then I have the opportunity to go back and see where I can improve so that the next time, in a similar situation, I can capitalize.

Thankfully, there are several others who share my views. We don't want to see the running game struggle as it has in the first few games. We would rather blowout opponents than squeak by. We would rather win than lose. 

Above everything else, however, we would rather be fans than fanatics.

Where do you fall on the spectrum?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank God for some perspective. I used to get so bothered by the fanatics with no football intelligence, now I just refuse to engage them in debate. We'll be fine.


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