I can’t find it anywhere in the Catechism, but we are midway through the liturgical season of Notre Dame football. At 4-2, the Fighting Irish are bound for another prominent bowl game after what appears to be a mediocre season.
Why do so many Catholics root for Notre Dame? Does the pope grant an indulgence for turning on NBC on Saturday afternoons? Unless you went there or live in the greater Chicago area, I can’t put my finger on why “I’m Catholic” is a reason to root for a program that seems to have little to do with Catholicism.
Notre Dame football exemplifies the rampant excess that plagues college football today. It is the only school with its own broadcast network TV deal. It is the only school that has an exception granting it a bowl game appearance under certain conditions. According to Forbes, the program dropped in value in 2012, yet it still retains a nine-figure net worth. While parishes close around the U.S., the school is still paying millions to Charlie Weis, the head coach who was fired 4 years ago.
At best, the program is a dinosaur living off its past glory. At worst, Notre Dame football is an agglomeration of greed that runs counter to Catholic teachings, though it exists as a Catholic institution.
If you still insist on rooting for a school because it is Catholic, here are some other options for you:
Boston College: It’s not much better, as the school pays its coach $1.6 million. But at least it’s a Jesuit institution!
Fordham: The Rams are 6-0 and ranked No. 9 in the nation in Division I-AA. This is the school that produced Vince Lombardi.
Villanova: The Augustinian campus is known for big-time basketball, but it has a noteworthy I-AA football program, too.
St. Thomas (Minn.): Impress your friends by telling them that the Tommies are 3-1 and ranked 12th in Division III.
Or do what I do: Root for your alma mater or hometown school, regardless of religious affiliation. Go Owls!