Saturday 21 September 2019

We need to support our Alma Maters

Fr Brian Whelan
Fr Brian Whelan

Fr Brian Whelan - The way I see it

College football is coming back to Dublin!

Over the past number of years an American college football game has been played in Dublin, either in Croke Park, or in the Aviva Stadium, whereby teams from the College Football Series will travel to the Emerald Isle for their season opener. This is the sixth time since 1988 that Ireland will have hosted a college football game, with the last game taking place between Penn State and UCF in 2014.

The good news for Ireland is that these games bring with them a surge of supporters who will holiday in Ireland around the time of the game, and spend maybe a couple of weeks soaking up all that Ireland has to offer to visitors.

This time it is Georgia Tech against Boston College, and many followers of both teams will travel across the Atlantic to come out in force to support their universities. So what is it that makes College Football so massive, what is it that makes people fly across the Atlantic to Ireland just for a football game?

College Football is a multi-billion dollar industry, and some of the largest stadiums in the world are college football stadiums, a lot of which would dwarf Croke Park, even though they might only host half a dozen home games each football season. For example, Notre Dame has an 80,000 seater stadium located on campus, and will play only 6 home games in the coming season beginning in September. These games are massive in size, and current students, alumni and parents will all throw their full support behind their university.

It might seem a bit crazy, that they would travel thousands of miles, at great expense, just to watch a football game, but for them its important to support the team and university which had such a huge positive effect on their lives.

In the States people support their Alma Maters, the places where they went to school or college, they support the places they came from because they know how important theses places have been in their lives, and in making them into the people they are. And that support is not only shown by following their football teams-they also pour donations into their formers schools and colleges, providing money to run sports programs, and build facilities, sponsoring extensions and upgrades of equipment.

Here in Ireland I think we could take a leaf out of their books. There's not a primary school or a secondary school in the country that couldn't do with a little more support from their past-pupils. A few thousand euros would go a long long way to upgrade out-dated and clapped out equipment in many of our schools, or replace furniture that has been there since the 80's or before.

Perhaps if we took a leaf out of the Americans books, and if we recognised the invaluable part that our primary or secondary school have played in our own lives, and in our success as adults, we too might find a way to give something back, and support our own schools.

We're familiar with supporting our parish or county when it comes to GAA why not do the same for our Alma Maters?

Wexford People