Opinion: Is Boston College vs. Notre Dame a Real Rivalry?

Boston College and Notre Dame are well-established, respected and robust institutions of higher education. This much they have in common. Everything else?—not so much.

But before I so brashly assert that a rivalry touted as the “Holy War” doesn’t, in fact, exist, I must acknowledge the fact that there are an abundance of people—especially Jesuits—who consider Boston College and Notre Dame to be vehement rivals. With this said, I will proceed with my argument.

Boston College and Notre Dame are not rivals. Why? Boston College is a Northeastern school located in Chestnut Hill, Mass.—ten minutes outside of the city of Boston. Notre Dame is a Midwestern school located in South Bend, Ind.—two and a half hours outside of Indianapolis.

Anna Petrin/Gavel Media

Anna Petrin/Gavel Media

Boston College is moderately strict, but is perceived—for better or for worse depending on your viewpoint—as a school that likes to work hard on the weekdays, and partake in its fair share of debauchery on the weekends, with an unofficial motto of “work hard, play hard.” Notre Dame is—again, for better or worse—notoriously strict; boys and girls have separate dorms and students have a curfew for their assigned residence hall every day of the week.

In essence, these schools are different. And not just a little bit; they’re vastly different.

On top of all of these things, Notre Dame students and faculty don’t really see Boston College as much of a rivalry. Notre Dame edges BC (according to mainstream college rankings) in academics. And when it comes to football, USC unanimously gets the nod as Notre Dame’s biggest rival.

Additionally, Boston University is Boston College’s crosstown rival that is not only relevant to BC in location, but in both academics and sports. If anybody, BU should be BC’s biggest rival.

So why does this all matter?

One of my least favorite things about Boston College is our compulsive desire to compare ourselves to other schools—especially Notre Dame. And though I am not naive enough to believe that comparisons don’t pervade all major universities, it still doesn’t make it right to obsess over which school is better at what.

Frankly, I don’t care what Notre Dame has and doesn’t have. I didn’t apply to Notre Dame, and I could have gone to their so-called rival (USC) so I could have actually “rivaled” them. But for some not-so-ridiculous reason, I chose Boston College. And a lot of people reading this did, too.

Anthony Golden/Gavel Meida

Anthony Golden/Gavel Media

At the end of the day, there is only one Boston College. I cherish our idiosyncrasies as a university, and it is what enticed me to choose BC over other universities with higher national rankings. No other school has the essence of what this school has, and our uniqueness is something that is very, very special to me.

I implore—and furthermore challenge—all BC students to stop pathologically comparing ourselves to other schools—particularly Notre Dame. There is only one Boston College, and there is only one Notre Dame. But Boston College shouldn’t want to be Notre Dame, or Georgetown, or any other university for that matter. Boston College should—and deserves--to be Boston College.

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Joe Castignetti