How to: survive football weekends in South Bend

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Many of you may have noticed something happening in South Bend over Labor Day weekend. An influx of traffic, a distinct lack of cases of beer on the shelves at the supermarket and party beads strewn about the town’s finest (and not-so-fine) bars are all signs of something happening. If you were a really unfortunate soul, you attempted to drive near the Notre Dame campus as people poured from the grounds on every mode of transportation you can imagine as the game ended.

As a seasoned local (alright, I was born here), I’ve learned there are a few things to know about surviving football weekends. Knowing the signs and planning ahead will lead to a successful weekend, and keep you from ripping out an “ND”-shaped patch of hair from your head.

Here are my top five tips:

  1. If you have to work, give yourself extra time to get there. Unless you work before 8 a.m., you will probably be faced with some amount of game day traffic. Whether the game starts at 3:30 or 7:30 p.m., the town is going to have heavier traffic flow and re-routed streets. There will also be confused, lost-looking pedestrians and taxis with drivers listening to five different people in the backseat telling them where they need to go, so patience is the key.
  2. If you plan on eating a junk food meal (a.k.a. the best kind), such as wings and beer, or pizza and beer, you may want to schedule the delivery days in advance, go out and grab a few cases of beer (or pop, or seltzer water, depending on your age and preference) ahead of time…what I’m saying is, that people stock-up for these games. You’re going to need to be one step ahead of them to get what you want.
  3. If you love the “away” team, be ready to talk about it. That mascot-bearing jersey and hat is going to be viewed as a battle flag. Maybe you should just wear it around the house. In all seriousness, if you’re team is in direct opposition with the local favorite, people will not be shy to make comments throughout the day. Be ready to cheer louder, harder and be willing to deal with consolation drinkers and light ridicule from either team if you’re anywhere near a concentration of football fans or the stadium itself.
  4. If you’re planning to go to a tailgate party, are of legal drinking age, and intend on consuming alcohol, consider using a taxi service ( or the app based taxi-service Uber ( to get around. Otherwise, have a designated driver or be within walking distance of a destination to stay afterwards. Tailgating is a great way to mingle with Notre Dame students, alumni and fans. They are part of our community in South Bend, and bridging the fan-base to the city is a great way to meet people and open up opportunities on both ends. (It’s also a great moment to tell others about all the great things you do at IU South Bend!)
  5. Have fun with it! Our town is a college football destination for a handful of weekends in the fall. If football is something you have zero interest in, you could have people over to your house for an anti-sports night of Cards Against Humanity or rounds of Mario Kart. Avoiding the crowds can also give you the perfect excuse to curl up in a blanket at home and read a book, watch a movie or do anything you do just to rest and recuperate from the week.

Regardless of how you plan to spend the weekends when insanity descends upon our city in the name of sports, keeping a positive attitude is paramount. Giving yourself time, getting your wing-fix in advance and giving yourself time to relax will make all the difference in your survival of living in a football city.

(Cue: Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”)

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