Go Army! Beat Navy!
Saturday is the day of the best rivalry in all of sports.
Hands down. No contest.
It doesn't matter if it isn't for a conference championship or national title these days.
It doesn't matter if some teams are in-state rivals and others have lots of bad blood in them.
Certainly some other rivalries have as long of a history of playing the games as Army and Navy, but they do not have the history, the tradition, and the prestige that this game has.
No other game matters like this one does.
This is the field of friendly strife, where those who are
This is the game that matters.
Army versus Navy bonds together the traditions and history of those who serve this nation. Yes, it takes place on a football field, but it is not 11 on 11. It is the Corps of Cadets against the Brigade of Midshipmen. Both schools march onto the field in full formal uniform attire prior to the game.
These gatherings brought the storied campuses together in cities with roots stretching back towards the beginning of this country: Philadelphia. New York. Baltimore.
During my four years at the United States Military Academy these games also helped me appreciate the big picture. The Army, and the United States Military, were much bigger than the roughly 4,000 cadets at the Academy. Suddenly, at this game there are 8,000 officers-in-training, with thousands more Soldiers and Sailors represented.
Spirit videos poured in from units all over the world. Some were funny, others just took the time to bash Navy. Watch this one - it is great for this year!
It is America's game, because it is a game in which sport and rivalry is placed in its proper perspective. There is is mutual respect on both sides of the field, as these brothers and sisters at arms were soon to be scattered to the four winds. The struggle on the field represented the determination which characterizes our military's leaders. The record does not matter, the game was bound to played closely and all-out.
This is a rivalry that means more than other rivalries, because these athletes, these students, and these schools represent so much more. They represent a submission of their careers for the sake of the nation, or as it so eloquently gets put: "the needs of the Army (Navy)."
Traditions abound surrounding the game. For one week you had better watch out for people from the other academy. Items may get stolen. Signs or symbols placed on statues or buildings on the other campus. While I was there, a Navy officer on faculty had his entire office moved into the middle of a common area of one of the academic buildings overnight, so that when he came in he had no choice but to work at a desk where cadets would hustle by between classes and listen to chants of "Go Army! Beat Navy!" Similar antics occurred at Annapolis, or so we were told.
Presidents, Senators, Generals, and Congressmen attend the game, as do parents and alumni. The diversity of our nation is on display within the student bodies and their families in attendance.
These schools have the most unique mascots, Army the mule and Navy the goat. Why? Follow these links: Mule, Goat.
This game makes or breaks the season. Recently, for Army, its mostly been breaking their season as Navy is on a record 10 game win streak. The second longest streak by either team is 5 games. Overall, this streak has put Navy ahead 56-47-9 in 112 meetings.
This is the year that streak ends.
This year, it is time for Army to Sing Second.
Because after every contest, no matter how heated or physical the game, both teams come together in respect of the other in the singing of their Alma Maters. If you haven't ever watched it, do this Saturday. The loser sings first, and the winner sings second. The Corps and Brigade get quiet, after cheering loudly, and the bands play the mellow tunes, and the words are sung with reverence.
As Douglas MacArthur said, "On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields, will bear the fruits of victory."
After the game they stand together. They fight together.
But not yet until its over. For this game, they fight.
It is a game like no other.
Go Army! Beat Navy!