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Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

Game day: A moment of truth

Well, we’ve made it this far. The first football game is Saturday, and with football season usually comes lots of parties and other shenanigans. Unfortunately, if there’s anything that could start a semester-ending outbreak, it’s those kinds of football-related festivities.

I’m in one of the student organizations that’s most visible and audible on game day, and doing our job has its trade-offs. We’ve given up time with friends, and sometimes even with our visiting families, to play our part in it all. We can’t go to tailgates, parties or other staples of the college football atmosphere. As far as I can tell, the players themselves are in the same boat. But we can skip those things because we have a compelling reason: We have a job to do.

This season, all of us on campus have a similar job to do, game day or otherwise: Keep each other healthy and safe. If we’re being honest, the type of pageantry that groups like mine do isn’t a life or death matter — that’s why we’ve had to scale back our activities this year — but for many people, COVID-19 is. Sure, younger people are less likely to have severe or fatal cases (although the risk for us to develop long-term health issues like myocarditis is not yet fully known), but I know at least one fellow student who would be especially vulnerable. They have an autoimmune disease that has caused them to develop type 1 diabetes, a host of food allergies and more, so keep in mind that there are indeed people in campus who could be hit especially hard by the virus.

And we’ve all discovered by now that big, rowdy gatherings (especially of the off-campus variety, apparently) are possibly the surest way to spread COVID-19. As University President Fr. John Jenkins recently shared in the town hall with off-campus students, we’re not out of the woods yet: We could still be sent home if we see another spike.

We all saw the media attention from the first spike, too, and it wasn’t pretty. We are indeed a “city built on a hill,” because we “cannot be hid,” even if we try (Matthew 5:14). And as a major football school, eyes around the country will be even more focused on us as we head into the football season. This is our moment of truth: Can Notre Dame make it through football season without an outbreak?

So please, for people like my immunodeficient friend, for the health and livelihoods of our fellow students, faculty and staff, for everyone who wouldn’t be set up to succeed at home, for the good name of our University: Let’s have a safe game day.

Go Irish, Beat Devils — and COVID-19.


Aaron Hilliker


Sept. 7

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.