(Ok, so some might think the title should be the other way around. To each their own but that’s kind of the point. In my case I rooted for Army until I was 26 and became a Marine and I’ve been a Navy guy ever since) 

I realize this is a political blog and this seems off topic but sometimes we do that here. And in a way the storied football rivalry between our two oldest service academies, the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis is a representation of what intense yet friendly rivalry can and should be. Whether sports or in other areas of life including politics.  The competition to get into one of the academies (including the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs) has long been fierce. Something to which I can personally attest. I came within a whisker of accepting an appointment myself. That’s a long story I won’t bore you with. But even fifty years ago it was tough to get in and it’s only gotten more so.

It took longer than in should have for minorities to be better represented at the academies, and women too but the classes each year have more and more “looked like America. Take a good, close look at the title picture. One of the many traditions is the greeting at midfield prior to the game between the leadership, the Cadets and Midshipmen and each academy’s “stripers” or top ranking leaders. It’s a black guy shaking hands with a woman. Once upon a time and sadly not all that long ago everyone at that pre-game ceremony would have been white males. But we’ve made progress and it shows both in the top leaders and the respective groups of Cadets and Midshipmen. The players are all men still but I can see the day when a place-kicker for one side or another in a given year will be a woman who excelled at soccer and can drill a field goal from forty yards or more out.

The game itself is what hard-fought athletic competitions should always be. Hard-fought but with respect and sportsmanship. And for anyone who watches reminders from those covering the game that at the end of the year everyone on both sides will be on the same team. Our country’s military team. The Dallas Cowboys began appropriating that title decades ago and other pro sports teams have tried but the players you see in this game, their respective academy’s cheering sections and yes those from the Air Force Academy ARE actually America’s team.

For most of it’s history (which you can read about here) things were incredibly evenly matched in about every statistic you could name. Even after the time when the game had national title implications and each school produced Heisman candidates (and some winners from each) whether it was the number of games each school had won or even the collective points each scored it was a coin flip. Even in years where one team was kicking butt and the other had had a losing season it didn’t matter. Games often were close and no one was surprised when the outcome was decides in the final few minutes or even seconds of a given game.

Things got skewed when Navy went on an incredible fourteen year winning streak but things have gotten back to more or less normal with Army taking three of the last five. As for today? Vegas odds makers shouldn’t bother because we are back to the old days when you can ignore each team’s record and play this season. You might as well flip a coin, just like things used to be. Even if you’re not a fan of sports you owe it to yourself to watch. If not this year, then make it a point to do so in the future. Two teams from old, terrific institutions of higher learning that also provide the backbone of our military’s Officer corps duking it out on the football field. Over and over you see them pouring their hearts and souls into the effort to help their teams win, and doing so with class and old-fashioned sportsmanship. Yes, blowouts sometimes happen but if you want to place a bet then bet on not knowing who will prevail until late in the game. Or even the final play! Over and over it’s been an epic thing to behold.

Triumph and heartbreak for all to see, and one never doubts the players left everything they had to give on the field. Regardless, after the game there’s another important tradition. If you’re not someone who’s followed the Army-Navy game the term “Sing Second” makes you say “what’s that about?” The goal for each team is to sing second as in this: All the players go over to the student section of the losing team and join together in singing that schools “Alma Mater.” Then they go over to the winning school’s student section and sing theirs. Obviously getting to “Sing Second” means your team/school won the game. However, the larger point is that there’s not “trash talking” or other bullsh*t that’s infected not just sports or other things, but not here. Not in this situation.

As I said earlier each side plays its heart out and so often one witnesses a great game and wishes both teams could have won, given how hard and/or well each played. Sports is like that sometimes. So are other forms of competition. Two people competing for the same promotion at work, with each well qualified and respected by each other and their colleagues. There was a time in my life where in politics one side or the other clearly deserved to lose but they fought a good fight and in the end came together.

Just as the players who will fight it out on the football field today will when it’s over congratulate each other and come together because they know ultimately they will be on the same team and the country needs them to get over winning or losing a game (or political fight) and work for a common purpose – the good of this country.

Politicians should take a lesson. Like most used to do.

(FYI. You can watch on CBS at 1500 – that’s three pm for you civilians.)

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  1. Denis…I had an appointment to the Naval Academy from Senator Sam Ervin. I spent an entire day wandering around the halls of the marine base in my skivvies, being as Arlo Guthrie sang, being inspected. I didn’t sing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walk out, I failed because I have a lazy eye that can’t be corrected. If I was blind as a bat, but could wear glasses to correct it, I would have gone. One eye overcompensates so I don’t notice I don’t have 20/20 vision. Anyway, I got a scholarship to ‘communist hill’, as Jesse Helms called it , a.k.a., the oldest state university…UNC-CH. I later enlisted in the Navy…long story…so you know who I root for. I lost a good friend who is a pacifist because I joined. How nice to feel so idealistic when others died to give him the privilege of safety. Go Navy!!!!

    • “I lost a good friend who is a pacifist because I joined. How nice to feel so idealistic when others died to give him the privilege of safety.”

      Sounds to me like HE was the winner in that little match. I mean, how nice to be such a judgmental prick because someone has the convictions of their ideals. You don’t happen to mention WHEN this enlistment happened but the last war that TRULY involved giving someone “the privilege of safety” ended in 1945. The US has not been in a war where this country’s SAFETY has been at stake since then. “Enlisting” is as much a choice as “pacifism” and, even if your friend ended the relationship, you’re still not justified in acting like a smug “tip of the penis” over it. Those “others” who died also did so to give you a choice to enlist (not to mention the tens of thousands who had NO choice in serving in the military and died–especially during Vietnam).

      The Beatitudes state “Blessed are the peacemakers” but nothing about “Blessed are the warriors.”

      • Smugness is your specialty not mine. You consistently nitpick everything posted by everyone down to the smallest detail. OCD? You ever serve? Apparently not. Hey, I didn’t reject him for being a pacifist. We lived together for 5 years so save your sanctimonious self righteousness…it’s wasted on me. By the way the reason we have peace is because at this very moment families and individuals are sacrificing by having warriors patrol the land air and sea 24/7. While your ass is asleep, someone is standing guard duty. If you really believe 1945 was the last war for our safety, you live in a privileged bubble. If you think pacifism will stop Hamas…prove it. Put YOUR ass and ideals on the line. Easy to troll sitting safely on your ass. Now…go ahead and nitpick. By the way were you standing next to Jesus when he reportedly gave that speech? You use that to justify your stand? Oh great and powerful Oz…what did he really mean by that? He evidently threw that to the side when he went after the money changers at the temple with a whip. I guess he was keeping the peace.

        • I wrote my own response to Joseph. It was while reading yours (after posting mine) that this popped back into my head, and reminds me of what you and I have in common along with millions of others who’ve served since WWII:

          • Thanks for blog Denis.. and thanks to both of you for response to Joseph .. and for allowing comments!
            Had cousin who went to Westpoint for football.. but had no military tradition in family. He couldn’t hack discipline and left after three months. Never did well after either.

      • You won’t get an argument from me that changing a policy of providing a fairly limited number of military advisors to South Vietnam into a major regional war was wrong. However, you comment about WWII? What about Korea? And other fights since? People can disagree on any of them. I got turned down for OCS in the Marines due to my age – the Col. overseeing the selection board that considered my application overrode the group’s recommendation. So my dream of becoming a Naval Aviator went up in smoke. Beirut was raging so I enlisted. And volunteered for infantry. You’ll never convince me that had we been allowed by the Reagan administration to do our jobs, to deploy major force up into the Chouf and shit hammered the gomers that so many tragedies that ensued would have taken place. No, the Islamic terrorists would have been far more wary of hitting the U.S. both abroad and at home. 9/11 wouldn’t have happened either.

        It’s all complicated as hell, and consequences both seen and unforeseen as well as both positive and negative have flowed from every military engagement we’ve been in in my lifetime. However the combination of our deployment of military power AND diplomatic power have made this world a better and safer place than it would have been. It’s allowed for a LOT more humantitarian aid to be delivered to places where it’s been so badly needed. Think how much more resentment there would be around the world including places where extremism was allowed to be planted deep (in large part thanks to Saudi Arabia which exported the extreme Wahabbi version) and bred so many terrorists.

        As I said, it’s complicated as hell but protecting our allies, helping provide means to help people in troubled places HAS made us safer at home.

        Then again, perhaps you haven’t bothered to read any of this, much less give it any real consideration. After all, the tenor of your comment to Samuel suggests you consider me in even worse light – I was a Marine. Combat arms no less. You have the right to think what you will and express it here or anywhere else. But that and other rights never have come without a cost. NEVER. I would however ask you to think about what the isolationism implied in your comment, that absent a major attack on the U.S. where full scale mobilization for war which existed prior to both WWI and WWII has cost.

        Sam was a squid and I was a jarhead but we are both products of the Naval Service. Yes, in our own small way we each helped give you the right to look down your nose at us and others like us. Like me he would defend your right to do so to the death. What would YOU do or risk to defend OUR right to say even if our leaders aren’t always right or wise in using it we need a strong military? Including one that can and has done so much to help our allies in Ukraine fight a war that if not won someday WE will be fighting in?

        • Thanks Denis for standing up for the tens of thousands that would rather be home with their families instead of standing guard duty or wondering when the moment will happen that suddenly they will be ordered into harms way. You’re right. I would and will defend Joseph’s right to believe and say what he wants as long as he doesn’t try to overthrow our democracy, & our freedoms. I guess coming from a family full of combat vets, I never believed pacifism would have stopped Hitler or will stop Hamas, or any dictator like Putin. I certainly wish it were true…but there are too many graves in Normandy, Arlington, and other places for me to either believe that or FORGET THEM. My old man, who brought the Korean war home, made sure he took me to Arlington, and to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider when I was a kid. I remember he told me, “son…this is the price of freedom”. I didn’t understand it then. I do now. Thanks marine for your service to us all.

          • Thanks for blog Denis.. and thanks to both of you for response to Joseph .. and for allowing comments!
            Had cousin who went to Westpoint for football.. but had no military tradition in family. He couldn’t hack discipline and left after three months. Never did well after either.

  2. Great article, thnx.

    So Tuberbully let this game happen?!? How could that be?

    Can we still arrange for the plane to fly over the stadium with the FUCK Tuberbully sign?

  3. My UTSan Antonio Roadrunners lost to Army this season and I was at the game when Army played in the Alamodome a couple years ago, lots of Army fans were in attendance. Since Fort Sam/Lackland/Brooks/Randolf is in San Antonio there are lots of Army, Navy Airforce folks here in town. If you go to the Riverwalk you can usually see the Air Force graduates and their families. UTSA is in the AAC now and so will match up with Navy now and again depending on schedules.
    Because Army and Navy cannot really recruit the largest of offensive and defensive linemen they usually play a triple option which was common in the 1960’s to about the 1980’s. Since the triple option is so rare it is difficult for opponents to prepare for it. Thus UTSA lost both games to Army, even though Army was an underdog. This also applies to basketball, David Robinson was a Navy academy graduate who started out at 6’9″ tall which I understand is the top end for Naval recruits and grew to 7’+. He ended up having a pretty good career as a San Antonio Spur.


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