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Notre Dame Will Always Be “The Fighting Irish”

There is absolutely no reason to change Notre Dame’s name or logo - despite calls to the contrary.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 28 NC State at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This has got to stop.

Once again the Notre Dame Fighting Irish name and logo are under attack by people who lack any amount of knowledge or sense of history about the topic. What they do know is “journalistic” pile-ons, hot takes, and audience size. Let’s be real here: the Notre Dame fanbase is HUGE, but the amount of Notre Dame “haters” is even bigger.

Notre Dame is an easy target for such nonsense.

Just about every time a sports organization or school decides to change their name or logo due to racial sensitivity to Native Americans, someone brings up the Irish. Apparently, there are those that believe the Fighting Irish name and the Leprechaun logo are offensive to Irish people. For them, the image of a drunken Irishman is totally unacceptable.

Except... what part of that name and logo suggest that he’s wasted, mad, and looking to get into a fight? OH THAT’S RIGHT... it’s the part in these people’s brains that just naturally equate the two things. That usually means the person is looking to start their own fight for whatever reason.

So, this time it was the decision by the Cleveland Indians to stop using the Chief Wahoo image that sparked the Notre Dame attacks. Max Kellerman, a hot-take artist on a show that worships at the altar of hot takes, was the loudest voice as he was fed the question and the name on his ESPN show.

He suggested that there were many Irish Americans that were offended by the name and the logo, and we should empathize with the minority and cease its use. For whatever reason, he (and others like him) want to categorize the Irish in the same space as the Indians, and Washington Redskins.

Who does that?

If there was a team name and logo that more closely mirrored what Notre Dame is doing, it’s probably the Minnesota Vikings. Think all of the Scandinavian people in and around Minnesota. Do you think they are offended by being associated with the Vikings (a people wildly known to rape and pillage in their conquests of Europe)?

If you think that, you probably think there are a group of Americans out there that are offended by the New England Patriots for their portrayal of the rebellious people of the Northeast.

People that think these things need a better history lesson. Here’s an easy one from that most Notre Dame fans already know:

Exactly where and how Notre Dame’s athletic nickname, “Fighting Irish,” came to origination never has been perfectly explained.

One story suggests the moniker was born in 1899 with Notre Dame leading Northwestern 5-0 at halftime of a game in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcat fans supposedly began to chant, “Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish,” as the second half opened.

Another tale has the nickname originating at halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 1909. With his team trailing, one Notre Dame player yelled to his teammates - who happened to have names like Dolan, Kelly, Glynn, Duffy and Ryan - “What’s the matter with you guys? You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick.”

Notre Dame came back to win the game and press, after overhearing the remark, reported the game as a victory for the “Fighting Irish.”

The most generally accepted explanation is that the press coined the nickname as a characterization of Notre Dame athletic teams, their never-say-die fighting spirit and the Irish qualities of grit, determination and tenacity. The term likely began as an abusive expression tauntingly directed toward the athletes from the small, private, Catholic institution. Notre Dame alumnus Francis Wallace popularized it in his New York Daily News columns in the 1920s.

The Notre Dame Scholastic, in a 1929 edition, printed its own version of the story:

”The term ‘Fighting Irish’ has been applied to Notre Dame teams for years. It first attached itself years ago when the school, comparatively unknown, sent its athletic teams away to play in another city ... At that time the title ‘Fighting Irish’ held no glory or prestige ...

”The years passed swiftly and the school began to take a place in the sports world ... ’Fighting Irish’ took on a new meaning. The unknown of a few years past has boldly taken a place among the leaders. The unkind appellation became symbolic of the struggle for supremacy of the field. ... The name, while given in irony, has become our heritage. ... So truly does it represent us that we unwilling to part with it ...”

Notre Dame competed under the nickname “Catholics” during the 1800s and became more widely known as the “Ramblers” during the early 1920s in the days of the Four Horsemen.

University president Rev. Matthew Walsh, C.S.C., officially adopted “Fighting Irish” as the Notre Dame nickname in 1927.

This is simply a non-issue. If it were an issue, wouldn’t there have been a massive (or smallish) protest in Ireland back in 2012 when Notre Dame played the Navy Midshipmen in Dublin? Instead, Notre Dame was welcomed and treated like national heroes. The people of Ireland love Notre Dame and what they represent.

The Irish are probably far more offended by:

  • The Americanization of St. Patrick’s Day.
  • A lack of understanding of Ireland’s struggle with Great Britain and the ensuing civil strife.
  • 19th- and 20th-century treatment of immigrants.
  • The school that uses the name “Irish” has a French name (bitterly confusing like the Nuestra Seniorita Fighting Italians).

So... get a grip. Learn the history, and back the hell off. Find something else in sports that is more deserving of this kind of time and debate, such as the NCAA operating like a business, safety, and well... pretty much anything else. Notre Dame isn’t going to change their name from the Fighting Irish to the Ramblers again — we might piss off all the nomads in the world.