One glaring trait that American college students and European soccer fans share in abundance is complete and utter devotion to their team. In Europe, the “team” is much more than just the 11 players on the field. In the States, collegiate school loyalties hinge upon similar dynamics.
The typical professional sports team includes not just the players on the field and on the sideline with the coaching staff and physios. If you asked any European soccer fan about their “team,” more often than not, they would include the waterboys and the kit trainers, the stadium crew and the groundsmen, the filmmakers and the cameramen in their description. But above all, they would say that the team is the fans.
The “team” is the history, the emotion, the camaraderie that accompanies the colors of the crest and the stripes of the uniforms. They imbue the crest with history when they remember the last time their team won a cup; they infuse the players with energy when their cheers shake the stadium and their emotions swell to the rafters. They grab each other’s shoulders both when their team scores, or is scored on. They cheer for the team, the team plays for them; the fans are the soul of the club as the players are the body. They roar the club’s anthem at the end of the game, arms adorned with scarves and banners. Their undivided, unchallenged loyalty is to one team, one club, forever.
In America, similar types of giddy, sweeping, sometimes vicious emotions manifest in collegiate school spirit. In larger public schools, with enormous student populations and Colosseum-like sports stadiums, this type of school pride is easier to see. The Bacchanalia of college football Saturdays, with the revelry of morning tailgates and the fireworks of night games, are augmented with a sea of school colors, waves of team chants and a constant, rippling undercurrent of mania that follows the crowds throughout campus.
Whereas some larger schools maintain a more emotive, chaotic Dionysian spirit, other higher institutional school spirits prove to be Apollonian. The Old American, Bostonian intellectualism that seeps from the walls of Harvard or the elitism, tradition, and power built into the Yale campus can be found in their vociferous alumni. School pride is in the history, the prestige and the honor of the institution.
Then, there are the small number of schools that straddle the line between the two types of spirit. The University of Notre Dame faithful go manic for their football, sure, but link arms and sing the Alma Mater at the end of the game. The students’ pride for their school isn’t just their football record either, but their beautiful campus, the Golden Dome, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the Word of Life Mural on Hesburgh Library, more colloquially known as Touchdown Jesus.
The University of Dallas has its own blend of pride. We are proud of our sports teams and our homegrown heroes, of course. But we are also proud of our school in ways that only a UDer would understand — and some begrudgingly at that. We are proud of our faith; our Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe; the Church of the Incarnation; the little Black Madonna statue in the Art Village woods. We are proud of the campus, from the Tower to the Madonna pond to the Mall. We are proud of our academics, from the Core to the Braniff school to the Art Village.
But most of all we are proud of our students. We are proud of how we are the only school on the Newman list that has Groundhog Week. We are proud of our homemade jails constructed during Charity Week. We are proud of how the Mall mills with activity on a Friday. We are proud of how you can see someone at a party Saturday night and then in Mass the next morning.
Our “team” isn’t wearing bright orange jumpsuits or screaming “Roll Tide!”; they wear Hoggie sweaters and pray the Rosary. Our team includes both the early risers reading Dante to the sunrise, and the nighthawks reading Milton to the moon. Our team shows up at 2:00 p.m. — Monday-Thursday — in the chapel for confession and again on Sunday for Mass.
Other schools get a new rec center; we get a coffee machine. And we’re proud of it. Some schools have fight songs and halftime shows; we have Friday Night Lights and the Condo Studios. Be proud of who you are, UD, because you have something no one else in the world does.
Love ye, UD!