In articles by the Indianapolis Star and Catholic News Service, Edward O’Donnell, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, offered insight on the parallels between Notre Dame’s rise as a football powerhouse and the rise of Irish-Americans.
In advance of the national championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, O’Donnell observed that the history of Notre Dame football mirrored Irish-Catholics’ struggle for acceptance in the U.S. “In the first 60 years of Notre Dame football from the 1920s to the 1970s … it meant a lot to Irish Catholics. This national football team reflected a lot of Catholic aspirations to upward mobility and this inferiority complex that a lot of Catholics, especially Irish Catholics, seemed to carry with them,” O’Donnell said.
“Notre Dame kind of becomes this representation of ‘we can beat you guys. We’re getting our slice of the American dream and no one’s going to take it from us. We’re able to knock off your very best—Princeton, Harvard, Army, USC—and to be able to do so year after year,’” he added.
This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Kristine Maloney.