Monday, December 05, 2011

Army-Navy: More Than Just a Game

Dating back to 1890, the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen have met every December (with a few exceptions) to clash horns and decides who claims bragging rights for toughest football team.  The history and tradition of the game makes no other rivalry in sports come close to comparing.   The array of patriotism and school spirit displayed by these two schools is an amazing inspiration.

The rivalry between the two academies, while friendly, is intense.  One week before the football game in 1953, the first reported kidnapping of “Bill the Goat” was announced.  A group of West Point Cadets snuck onto Annapolis campus with the help of a West Point foreign exchange student who lived at the Naval Academy.  After finding Bill behind the stadium, the cadets put the goat in the back of their convertible.  However, when taking Bill back to campus their cover was blown when Bill’s horns ripped through the roof of the car.  When they returned back to West Point with the goat they presented him to Army’s boisterous dinnertime pep rally.  Once the Navy midshipmen found out about the news they refused to go to class until the goat was returned.  The goat's return was ordered by officials from West Point as well as President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Army Slotback Patrick Mealy runs the ball in the second quarter.
"While we will be the fiercest of rivals on Saturday, it's a great rivalry because ultimately it's founded on respect. We respect one another at the institutional level and the individual level," said U.S. Military Academy Head Coach Rich Ellerson.
To this date, because of the tradition of the game it remains nationally televised.  Most of these players will not be moving onto a professional sports team.  The two teams play for the love of the game and the honor of their schools and country.  Every college football player has a goal to reach the NFL, but the players on these two teams have far different goals then all the other players in the nation.  After graduating they will proceed with the commitments they made to serve their country, and it is this fact that makes this game so great.

The game is especially emotional to the seniors on the team because it will typically be their last competitive football game of their careers.  During wartime the game is even more emotional, as some seniors will not return once they are deployed.
Weeks before kickoff, men and women of the Army and Navy display their school spirit with Go Army and Go Navy rants.  Posters and banners will be hung at the respective campuses this time of the year.  Now-a-days they even post comical videos online to cheer on their schools which are called “spirit spots.”  To the right is an Army spirit spot video where some soldiers kidnap Bill the Goat and serve him for dinner.

Whether you like watching football or not, you should tune in to watch the pageantry and tradition of the game.  It’s patriotism at its purest!  Can't wait to watch the game this Saturday!

Go Navy!

Peter Azzarone @ Rothco

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