You never treat your identity with such benign neglect (or perhaps it was the opposite: officious intermeddling) as we have treated our three-pillared identity. We are Catholic, proudly so. We are academically excellent, unappologetically so. And we will continue as the most unassailably clean football team in an increasingly rotting landscape: we will kick your ass on the gridiron, then shake your hand afterwards. Three truths, three pillars.
Is there anyone in their right mind who believes: that the educational experience (24/7) at Emory or Wash U could rival that at Notre Dame? (If so, root around in the Hall of Fame posts for one from a student - handle XNDX who is currently at Wash U); Anyone really think that there are a lot of students at Brown who are at their first choice school?; Anyone ever strolled, without body armor, the "campuses" at Columbia or Penn?
Cruel irony: when I was a youngster, Penn used to play Notre Dame and many other powers of the gridiron. Then, the three-teated heifer (Yale/Harvard/Princeton) decided to de-emphasize football (and this is quite consonant with omahadomer's hypothesis that 'dominant football=bad; good basketball=okay' is an operative theory behind these asinine and incestuous USNews rankings). They invited Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, Brown, and Cornell to join them in the oh-so-pristine Ivy League. The latter five have flourished on the chum flung overboard by the Big Three's Admissions Offices - gilt by association, if you will.
I don't need that third-place newsweekly to tell me the value of my degree: I attended a University which was sui generis THE Catholic destination for the Best and Brightest. None of us talked about some "high-paying job" awaiting us - we looked at the world (and, in my case, this was filtered through the reality of the draft and Viet Nam) the same way our football team looked at its opponents: We're hungrier than you are and we will dominate and conquer you, then shake your hand and put you to work for us. By the way, our football players succeeded as well, off the field - they were as equally prepared and every bit as hungry. So maybe they did do something to value my degree; I certainly would never be so crass as to say that the football tradition at my alma mater had nothing to do with my academic credentials. We were intertwined.
I honestly think (and I have known Monk since my son moved into Sorin in the Fall of '88) that the Notre Dame attitude has changed from a reaction to fighting academic/religious bigotry to a "Please , let me join your club!" wail, a capitulation to the secularization of American higher education.
We have, and especially since co-education, always been respectful of the equal and powerful imprint of females on our history and evolution (but never needed the shrillness of "The Vagina Monologues"); we have always had a segment of our community, both students, faculty, and religious, who had a homosexual orientation (anybody know the Tom Dooley story?) but never felt a need to celebrate (or denigrate) it and so on: we have always lived in the real world. But we have never indulged in the obsequious flavor-of-the-month pandering that we have seen increasingly from the effete inbred group which has run Notre Dame for the past 17 years. Its impact is everywhere, the DisneyWorldification, the "We're just like you!" attempts at validation, the not so subtle attempts in recent issues of the magazine to divide us, 'old' v. 'young', etc. Notre Dame needs to lead, not follow. If others do not, then let them become the next Duke or Northwestern, who both cast down their religiosity to join the club.
If the original poster truly feels the way he says, I can only hope that it is because he didn't know Notre Dame when it was unique. We did.