(Photo by James G. Pinsky/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)


Go Army! Beat Navy!

Go Navy! Beat Army!

These two simple cheers mean more to the sport of football than any other cheer in the collegiate landscape.  They represent the sport at its purest, without the complications associated with big time college athletics.  Most importantly, they represent young men who will be involved in something much more important to our country than any professional or amateur sport.

Some see the official end of the regular season as the Heisman Trophy Ceremony.  This is definitely an important aspect of the sport and a excellent spectacle.  But just hours before, the last regular season game of the season always pits the Black Knights of the US Military Academy against the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy.  I've only ever witnessed this game on television, but the sight of cadets and midshipmen all dressed in the same uniforms filling the stands has always been awesome to me.  Its the one game the president attends, as well as many other government officials.  But what's most intriguing is the pure reverence this game receives.  No other athletes deserve the respect these men do, and the spectacle is a fitting honor to their service to our country.

The game has an interesting history as well.  In the 1940's, Army was a college football juggernaut, winning multiple national titles.  Navy was no slouch either, with one of their alumni being Roger Staubach who won two Super Bowls as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.  As college athletics grew in importance to state and private universities, these academies could not recruit top tier athletes, and as a result they became irrelevant on the national scene.  However, this game remained one of the most important rivalry games of the sport, and every year it outshines games featuring more successful teams.

Recently, Navy has returned to form somewhat by being a bowl eligible year after year thanks to a formidable triple option offense.  Army remains mired in losing seasons, and has lost 11 straight to Navy.  However, last year's game came down to the wire, and the cadets know that crazier upsets have occurred.

In the future, these young men will be members of an elite group of individuals who serve and protect our nation.  They've watched other schools win awards and create drama all year.  But for one afternoon, the stage will be all theirs.  And for that, we should all be thankful.

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