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Stop Turning “The Shirt” into the Notre Dame Bogeyman

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It’s actually not as bad as people say

Oklahoma v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I’m going against the grain on this one.

There are many Notre Dame Fighting Irish Gameday traditions. You have tailgates, the player walk, Concert on the Steps, Trumpets Under the Dome, the 1812 Overture, and countless others. They all add to the aura of the Notre Dame campus on a football gameday. We know the smells, the sights, and the overall feeling that campus has when there is home game. It is easy to describe but indescribable at the same time.

One of those traditions has been one that has actually caught A LOT of flak over the years. It has actually gotten criticism from some of my fellow OFD staff members, and I have sat quietly over the years. While I understand and respect the claims of why this tradition is tough to swallow (and I’ll get into that in a bit), I am one that thinks people have to cool it with the total hate of it every year. And of course that tradition is the unveiling of a new and the wearing of The Shirt.

University of Notre Dame vs University of Michigan Set Number: X162091 TK1

Somewhere along the line, The Shirt became a phenomenon because of its changing every football season. It is designed by students on the The Shirt Committee, and each year it is unveiled typically at a pep rally the evening before the Blue-Gold Game. Brian Kelly comes out with the cheerleaders and unveils it. The whole thing is kinda kitschy, I will definitely give you that. But, it does generate talking points and clicks. They build hype around The Shirt every spring by having students guess the color.

The Shirt Pros and Cons

Now, I’m actually somewhat of a The Shirt apologist. Do I like every single color and every single design? Absolutely not. I’m also a bigger guy, so each shirt fits differently on me, so sometimes I look ridiculous wearing it. But, do I buy it every year. Why? Well, I might be a sucker and a sap, but I like that ALL of the students buy in and wear it. It is the official shirt for that football season. It’s a unity thing among the fans and student body, and when you can include unity and community, I fall for that so hard and so unapologetically. I’m an alum, sorry not sorry.

Also, no matter what stance you have on The Shirt, you can’t hate a couple of things about it. For one, it is always $18. It used to be $15, but then the price was increased a few years ago. Honestly, besides those random, generic Notre Dame shirts that are like orange and brown on that one cardboard shelf (you all know what shirts I’m talking about), The Shirt is quite honestly the least expensive piece of clothing for adults that you can buy. The materials have been hit or miss with different fits, but considering how expensive things are in the Hammes Bookstore, $18 for a Notre Dame shirt is a steal. And, of course, each year the proceeds go to a charitable cause for students with medical issues. It’s great that the proceeds are going to good causes.

Now, for some of the negatives surrounding The Shirt. I generally am not a fan of the total guesses of what the color will be. I think it should rotate between Kelly Green and Navy Blue. Every year the color changes. Another gripe I understand is that the designs are not the best. I would be more in favor of a general design with years changed because I do like that there are different quotes and students can flex their creative muscles, but sometimes there is just a lot going on with the designs.

With all of that, though, I want to give a bit of perspective. I give the students some slack on the design of The Shirt because in the past I have personally worked with current students who worked tirelessly on The Shirt. I’m just not going to slander them because they have a passion for the creation of The Shirt. And, at the end of the day, it really is just a shirt that it made for the students to stand out in the stadium. When they are all wearing the same color, it is a cool sight to see whether in person or on TV. I would prefer it always to be Kelly Green or Navy Blue (and NEVER any variation of “gold”), but the sight is very cool.

To Wrap Up

And that leads me to what I just mentioned: It is really just a shirt. I have heard people hate on it. I have also heard of “fans” on message boards claim that The Shirt is part of a “curse” of the football program. The Shirt began in 1989, so the claim is that Notre Dame has not won a football national championship since The Shirt has been in existence. But, I was also hearing that reasoning along with there being table cloths at candlelight dinner in South Dining Hall and other nonsense.

So, in that sense, do not make The Shirt a bogeyman or a scapegoat for problems that are quite frankly now in the past. People are entitled to disagree with what The Shirt looks like or what material is used. I think there could be improvements so we could get out of a slump of trying too hard or making it too similar to past designs. But, do not make that big of a deal about it. At the end of the day, it is a shirt and it provides a connection to the school.

And, even if you are like some on this site who aren’t really fans, be like Joshua and come up with solutions to make it better.