03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Notre Dame Irish Won't Fight for Singers

The home of the "Fighting Irish," the University of Notre Dame, stood strong against the assorted activists who objected to the school's time-honored tradition of inviting the President of the United States, when that particular president was Barack Obama.

There is no shortage of traditions at the 167-year-old school, few of them as weighty as the commencement speaker, but all tenacious. Most of the famous (if sometimes unusual) traditions are in football. So it's more than a little jarring to hear that ND did not honor a cherished tradition, instead knuckling under to the demands of NBC, which televised the most recent home game, versus its most traditional rival, Navy. As part of the (yes, traditional) ND Glee Club Reunion, current and former members join the ND Marching Band -- several hundred people in all -- to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner." Except this year they didn't. And the plans, nay dreams, of at least one family were dashed, as this letter to university and network officials attests.

Dear Father Jenkins, Dr. Affleck-Graves, Mr. Swarbrick:

As a Notre Dame graduate, I have enjoyed the Notre Dame Football game broadcasts on NBC ever since they started covering the Irish.

As the parent of a current Notre Dame Senior that is a member of the Band of the Fighting Irish, I am very appreciative of the webcasts of the band's halftime show.

As an alumnus of the Notre Dame Glee Club, preparing to depart for South Bend for the Glee Club Alumni Reunion weekend, I am incredibly disappointed. This evening, I learned, that at NBC's request, the Glee Club has been bumped from our tradition of singing the National Anthem during our reunion weekend. This is a long-standing tradition of the Glee Club which has been graciously supported by the Band. Apparently, NBC has dictated that the band play the National Anthem for this game so it can be covered as part of a special pre-game show. NBC has rarely or perhaps never broadcasted the pre-game or National Anthem in the past. Now they are being allowed to dictate to the University. I know there is a significant relationship between NBC and the University but they should not be allowed to dictate a change of a long held tradition for the University and the Glee Club. Perhaps NBC isn't aware of the unintended consequences of this decision.

This last minute change is depriving a large group of men, current Glee Clubbers and over 200 Glee Club alumni, of the privilege of singing the National Anthem for the 80,000 fans, friends and family members in the stadium. This reunion and our performance of the National Anthem have been planned for months. Coming to the table on the Thursday before the game and dictating this change was thoughtless to say the least. For me personally, this change is depriving me of a long-awaited, Once-in-a-Lifetime dream. I have been anticipating the opportunity to be on the field performing at the same time as my son since he started at Notre Dame and was selected for the Marching Band three years ago. This chance won't come again.


[name of real person removed]
University of Notre Dame, BA 1983

Sure, I am well aware that this situation is not really comparable to the brouhaha over graduation this past spring. But the change in the ND-Navy schedule got zero publicity, and I wouldn't have heard of it either except that I happened to be at the ND Glee Club Reunion. No, I'm no ND or glee club alumna, but I have a forum, and I'm prepared to use it.