Alright, I need to level with you guys. I was all set to go to Michigan. As in the University of. I was admitted there early and fairly pessimistic about any other good news coming, so I had become enthusiastic about going to what really is a great school.
Sure, I had always watched Notre Dame football growing up, for whatever reason. I had no ties there, no legacy, not really much of a clue about anything other than gold helmets and diagonally-striped end zones. I was not exactly the only Midwestern boy with that exact relationship with the University of Notre Dame. Heck, part of the reason I grew up rooting for them was probably just to spite my Michigan fan older brother. But here I was, a high school senior, telling everyone that I was "probably" heading to Michigan. It was always just probably, though.
Sure enough, I got that unexpected big envelope from Notre Dame on literally the day they set as their deadline for letting applicants know. Was I the last person accepted? Probably. It didn’t matter. My dad told me the second I opened it that it looked like my mind was made up, and he was right. I’d be going to Notre Dame, still without having stepped foot on campus or knowing a single thing about campus life, academic programs, or Father Hesburgh.
Since I graduated, I’ve gone back to many, many home games, and every time I pull off at exit 77, I’ve embarked on a weekend of reliving in my mind the four years spent there. And I’m on freakin’ cloud nine. The ridiculous nights in Knott with my bros, Bengal Bouts and interhall football, Feve and Finnies, enough stories to bore my future children into oblivion.
It’s just an awesome place where I met some of the greatest people on the planet (including the love of my life), and describing how much I love that place is an impossible task. My love for Notre Dame is met perfectly by my love for football. The swearing, the yelling, the possessed fist pumps for every Stephon Tuitt sack, the obsession over press conferences and recruiting updates? Well, if you love football and you love Notre Dame, it just comes with the territory.
So why am I telling you this here in the middle of a 9-0 season? That’s because Hyundai is sponsoring a contest where one fan in the country will be given two tickets, airfare, and hotel accommodations to a bowl game, literally any bowl game of that fan’s choosing. Hyundai Fanthropology has come to SBNation looking for the biggest diehard fan in the nation.
What I need from you is to leave here in the comment section why you, OFD reader, are such a passionate, loyal fan for Notre Dame football. From those comments, I will select one of you to be One Foot Down’s biggest diehard, and we will have chat about college football. I will post that conversation, and the powers that be will select who they think is the most loyal, rabid fan in the nation.
A couple rules and regs. You only get one submission across the SBNation network, so don’t run off to another blog and expect to get picked there, too. If you want to leave a comment but don’t want to participate in the contest, let me know, but please still participate in what should be a fun conversation. Finally, again, please let that prize sink in. Two tickets and travel accommodations to ANY BOWL GAME YOU WANT. Pretty big stakes here, and let’s hope it’s one of you heading to Miami to see the Irish in the BCS National Championship Game. I’m looking forward to reading your stories and getting to pick the biggest diehard here at One Foot Down. Good luck and thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring a great contest!
One more story I want you to read, this one brought to you by 4pointshooter, and then leave your story in the comments section:
Koreans have always connected to a sensibility called "Han." It’s a term that has no literal translation in any other language. It is something close to longing and despair – but it’s also about a glimmer of hope despite the profound sadness that is rooted in the heart. It probably has something to do with being stuck between two traditional superpowers – China and Japan – that ruled over us at different points in our 5000 year old history. So having hope even when all hope is lost is nothing new to me, nor our people. As a result, I’ve always connected with that pain and longing – I mean, the first sports team I ever adopted was the Orlando Magic after Shaquille O’Neal bolted in 1996. And no, recent events haven’t made life there any easier.
My first encounter with Notre Dame Football was in the fall of 2005. The cable we had in the Philippines had a segment on devoted to showing the college football game of the previous weekend, so I saw the ND – USC game a few days later. The shock, pain and loss that I saw in the student body’s faces were things I connected with immediately. I started filling out an application the next day. I came into Notre Dame during what seemed to be the peak of a "Return to Glory." Brady Quinn was the Heisman favorite and on the cover of every magazine across the country and every pundit expected to see Notre Dame and Ohio State battle for the Coach’s Trophy at the end of the day.
But my true conversion to fandom happened in the much more painful season that followed - 5 years ago almost to the day. In a freezing cold November afternoon (which was accompanied by freezing rain throughout the 5 hours) I saw my 1-7 Fighting Irish fall to Navy for the first time in nearly half a century after 3 overtimes. The physical pain was one thing, but I remember crying over sports for the first time in my life. The loss was humiliating and the pain was deep. Yet I knew that I was about to be one with something for the rest of my life. The last four words of the alma mater have been sincere and true ever since.
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