It’s official — 50 years after Notre Dame welcomed the first cadre of female undergraduate students to its campus in 1972, the university has officially changed the fight song, Victory March, to reflect the addition of women.
Can listen to it here.
Only took five decades (kind of).
The line “while her loyal sons are marching onward to victory” has been changed to “while her loyal sons and daughters march onto victory.” This small tweak has actually been around for decades — during my undergraduate years at Notre Dame between 2017 and 2021, I knew several people who sang the “daughters” version of the song loud and proud, and I also know several alumni who sang the “new” version as far back as the early 1980s. The earliest recorded suggestion of the change dates back to 1976, in a letter to the school newspaper from a female student who tossed out the suggestion, writing, “is it too much to rewrite a simple but very traditional fight song and admit that women are here to stay, or would this be the straw that broke the alumnus’ back?” (Unfortunately, the same question has to be asked today.)
The “Notre Dame Victory March” has been around since 1908, and its current tune was composed in 1928, per Notre Dame Magazine. It’s played by the school’s marching band, of course, at the start of every home football game, after every touchdown, field goal, and extra point, and at the end of each game. It’s omnipresent at every pep rally, official school event, sports game, from freshman orientation right up to graduation. Suffice it to say that it’s ubiquitous, as well as one of the most well-known fight songs in college athletics, joined by Michigan’s “The Victors,” which was composed in 1898.
For a school that borders on rabidity about tradition, and that often finds it challenging to embrace change (the football field didn’t change from grass to turf until 2014, and didn’t have a Jumbotron until 2017), this is a pretty major adjustment for the Fighting Irish. It’s a small change that doesn’t hurt anyone — though, you wouldn’t know it to look at some of the Twitter and Facebook replies to the announcement, where complaints of “woke pandering” and cries about “tradition” abound — and, if anything, probably just should have been implemented among the big changes that accompanied, you know, letting women into the school in 1972.
Is it monumental? No. Might it make some women, especially those who were early graduates of the university as well as current female athletes, feel happy and included in the school’s culture? Yes. And, most importantly, is anyone forcing you at knifepoint to sing this? No — so for those who care soooo much about “tradition,” just sing it the old way. Avoid Glee Club performances or whatever makes you not want to shit your pants about adding a word in a song. And stop complaining in the comment sections — it makes you look old and crotchety.