University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, December 31, 1973

The National Championship in College Football

On this New Year’s Eve about 50 million Americans watched on television in suspense at the football game between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Alabama, which decided the national championship in college football. In the Sugar Bowl Stadium of New Orleans 80,000 fans cheered on their team, either the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame or the Tide of Alabama. The Fighting Irish won 24-23 and thereby became the national champion in college football 1973.

American college football is in its way unique. It has an enormously broad effect and goes far beyond what is generally seen, especially in Europe, as competitive sports on the college or university level. It is a complicated game with many rules, which requires physical strength as well as agility and quick responsiveness. The oval ball is more thrown and held than kicked. It is a matter of yards and inches, not of goals like in soccer, but of touchdowns in the end zone. College football has its own ritual with marching bands, cheerleaders and mascots. Each game is also a social event that brings friends and families together from all over America. It strengthens the bond of the alumni with their alma mater. Tonight’s game in the Sugar Bowl will be remembered for a long time to come. It will be passed on as a legend from one generation to another.

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