Walking on Hallowed Ground

Count me among those who were not enthused to hear about the discontinuation of the traditional “team walk” from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to Notre Dame Stadium on game days.

Even though a little research determined the walk had only been around since the early 1990s, it seemed firmly entrenched as one of those special events that happen “only at Notre Dame.”  The importance of the team attending Mass together to start their day on campus was a thing of pride for alums, fans and everyone associated with Notre Dame.

The walk itself served to connect two of the primary elements of Notre Dame ¡V faith and football ¡V apart from academics.  And judging by the fans gathered along the walkway four and five deep, it was a wildly popular part of game day on campus.

(It will be interesting to see how the change affects attendance at the Band’s traditional “Concert on the Steps.”  Fans visiting the heart of campus would make the rounds, between the Dome, the Grotto, connecting with the team as they walked from the Basilica, then wandering just a few short steps to take in the concert at Bond Hall.)

The university’s video explained the new routine ¡V how the team will re-board their busses after Mass, circle campus andÿ.this was really emphasizedÿ.drive through the parking lots where thousands of fans are tailgating and could honor the team!

How exactly? By peering into darkened bus windows? It’s not like the players are going to get out and mix with fans.  And if there’s any part of the ND game day experience that is most similar to countless other universities, it would be tailgating.  A very poor bargain, it seems.

From a practical standpoint, the new routine emphasizes that the football team’s true home is the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.  I supposed it could have been worse ¡V if Mass had been totally cut out of the picture.

The new “walk” from the Gug to the Stadium, by way of the Hesburgh Library and reflecting pool, does have one redeeming quality. It traces the steps of Knute Rockne, George Gipp, The Four Horsemen and the other stars who trod old Cartier Field from the turn of the century through 1928.

The aerial shot of Cartier Field ¡V used in the frontpiece of Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions ¡V brings one back to an era of early glory for Fighting Irish football.

It’s important to remember what occurred on that hallowed ground. And if it can help in any way to inspire today’s Irish players, then the new walk will serve a purpose.

We hope it reminds folks of just how much history happened on that land just north and northwest of Notre Dame Stadium.