On the surface, their football program appears to have much in common with the Blessed Motherís Universityís own. They are both ancient midwestern powers, at least by the temporal standards by which college football can be measured. Midwestern roots tend to flourish best in the rugged soil of a punishing ground attack. Both schools are competitive universities, drawing a relatively similar student body, at least in the ways that the many measure such things. The Michiganers fancy that they have a respectable national following. If it were true, that would be another similarity.
These superficial points of confluence, however, only heighten the essential dissonance between the schools, and the irreconcilable philosophies that guide each football program. EdMartinigan clings to an empty, deracinated philosophy of education. There is no Good; there are only subjective goods, many of which must be respected as equal idols. Education is an end unto itself, to be used to whatever purpose the customer may wish to apply it.
Notice well how they have no compunction about using their athletes as kinesiological pieces of meat, tools of profit for the greater institution. Notice the size of the school and the emphasis on research at the expense of the undergradís quest for wisdom and understanding. Concern for their reputation alone sets their path, straining to seem excellent rather than truly to be excellent, the aim of the sophist. Also note well how quickly they deride any mention of religious themes when mixed with athletic competition by their southron rival. The intellectual must be kept alienated from the spiritual and both from the physical, as if any person actually exists that way. In short, the University of RichardToddBranchigan has swallowed every error modernity has ever spewed into the wheels of human history. They cling desperately to these fallacies, believing that their obstinacy makes them valiant and will lead to victory, and ridiculing any with a wisdom that surpasses their own.
The yawning chasm separating this bastion of hubris from the University of Notre Dame cannot be plumbed, even if one could measure the distance between the east and the west. At Notre Dame, the soul is gently nurtured in the understanding that all things seek but one ultimate Truth, that every endeavor under the sun only finds fullness to the degree that it furthers that pursuit. Excellence in all things becomes the goal prized by worthy and dignified creatures. They are obligated to pursue it in all they do, with all of their faculties. There is a unity in life, with a single focal point that will consummate every part, transforming them into living stones. Athletes are not merely athletes. Students are not merely students. All must share in the essential life of the school, never used simply as an object.
This is why my heart leaps every time I see Notre Dameís warrior-poets take the field, golden domes flashing in the sun. They embody the spirit of the agon, an all-encompassing pursuit of excellence alien to Ann Arbor, a wrestling with personal weakness to yield to transcendent strength. Her warriors are a visceral reminder of that very mystical body, every part dignified and fulfilled in its unique and blessed toil for the common good.