Michael Jackson, Staff Writer
Is it still “in” to talk about the football season and the ‘ship experience? Well, I’m going to be fashionably late because in this edition of “Permission to Laugh” we will also be talking about time. First, we begin with the streamers flying and the presentation of the Coaches’ Trophy to Alabama that awesome night of January 7, 2013—yes, I said awesome because it was. As I left Sun Life Stadium clad in that ridiculous orange-winged band uniform that I have come to love I noticed quite a disparity in emotions between the two sets of fans.
First, amongst the loyal Notre Dame fans there was obvious disappointment, but not the disappointment of a 6-6 season or even of a gut-wrenching loss to the likes of Michigan or Michigan State. Among the faces I also saw people smiling and laughing—people talking about what an amazing season it had been from singing Wild Rover in Ireland to thanking Touchdown Jesus for pushing the Pitt kicker’s double OT field goal wide right. Even I was smiling and laughed at the fact that one of my fellow seniors had overheard some freshmen say “So this is what it feels like to lose.” Then there were the Alabama fans who absolutely stunned me with their response: seeming indifference. Are you kidding me? I don’t care that you have won it three out of the last four years. Express some positive emotion and make me feel badly about losing more than I already do. Perhaps my experience was an isolated incident of exiting the stadium, but I think we were happier in losing than they in winning.
My mother always said growing up that if I learned anything in my sports career that it would be how to lose. At Notre Dame I received an excellent education in that from our beloved teams of 2008, 2009, and 2010. Actually, what she meant was that she hoped I would learn to place losing in its proper place. In twenty-two years of existence I think only Cubs fans have had more experience. I think that the best way to put our loss to Alabama in perspective looks like the following.
Many good stories have storybook endings from which we come away with that “feeling.” Many of the best stories, however, don’t end quite the same way: obstacles become too much, heroes die, and yes, sometimes games are lost. Yet, they capture our attention because WE delve into them, WE become a part of them—page by page, chapter by chapter, game by game. And when those storybook endings aren’t to be, we can find that our greatest joy comes not from the end but on the darn good story that was told cover to
Now I move on to a discussion of time and how this season and our experience of it fit into it as individuals. When I say the word time your initial impression is probably to think of the current clock time, the year, or the start of your next appointment. Yet, in many cultures the ticks of the clock are quite irrelevant. Those who have studied abroad in South America or in some Asian countries might understand. “Productivity” is seemingly sacrificed in the name of three hour dinners, naps, or walks. This is quite possibly because for these cultures time is based on events, not the clock. Punctuality means arriving by morning, afternoon, or even a range of days for a meal or a gathering. It does not mean arriving by a pinpointed time for which one should get frustrated if the other is two minutes, five minutes, or an hour “late.”
When I view my life, I often consider how time would continue were I no longer to exist. I do not mean this in a morbid sense, and you need not call the authorities as a result of this statement. I merely consider the fact that classes would still start at 0930 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, dinner at my house would still be at 1815, and the basketball games would still start at 1930. Yet, if I view these as events not so much as happening as the time ticks away but as events that “define time,” I have a happier outlook on time. And this my friends, is why I think that as Notre Dame fans, we were much happier in defeat than the Alabama fans in victory. In the experience of the pep rallies, the tailgates, the pregame and halftime shows, and dare I say even in watching our team lose one game, we did not merely see another season tick through time, but we viewed the season as an event—a story—for perhaps the first time in a long time. Only we can dictate how this “time of our lives” starting in Dublin and concluding in Miami, is remembered during the “time” duration of our lives.
Michael Jackson is a fifth year senior and a jolly old fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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