Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Army-Navy Game

As college football season comes to a close, we felt compelled to write about one of sport's greatest rivalries that we attended this last year: the Army-Navy Football Game.

In addition to our rabid support for our own teams that some would argue is unhealthy, we also appreciate sports in general. Therefore, any century old rivalry (117 years to be exact) would be right up our alley. Add in the fact that the outcome would have serious implications on our own team's bowl hopes, and it was a given that we'd to be making another sports-related road trip.

The Army-Navy Game takes place at a neutral site (where the Philadelphia Eagles play), which is only a 2 hour drive from DC. Considering that it takes 2 hours to fight through the traffic generated by some of our local teams in LA, this is nothing. Plus, we've been known to drive 8 (DC-Indy), 10 (DC-Atlanta), and 13 (LA-El Paso) hours to see our teams play. But enough of our fanaticism. Back to the topic at hand...

Army-Navy is like no other rivalry that we've experienced. The pomp and circumstance is what you'd expect from the military. The loyalties, bred from lives dedicated to a cause, run deep. The history and competitiveness is strong. But unlike so many sports rivalries, the entire event is laid on a foundation of respect. There is the familiar drive to win, but without the hate.

Never was this respect more apparent that at the conclusion of the game when both teams stood together for the playing of each other's alma mater. At a time when drunk college kids would normally be hurling insults, projectiles, and their lunch, both student sections made themselves and their country proud.

Now, I'm probably the last person to pass judgment on more traditional rivalries that feature "hate" and less evolved behavior. I think that within reason, there is a place for these sports traditions, but Army and Navy have something that they should be very proud of, and something that every sports fan should experience at least once.

As for the game itself, the days when our Armed Forces teams produce future NFL stars are long gone. If you're looking for the most talented players in the country, you probably won't find it here. In fact, I'm sure that as time goes by I'll forget everything about the game other the fact that neither team was particularly impressive on this very cold day, and that Navy won. But what will linger are the sights and sounds surrounding a very unique sporting tradition that I'm happy to check off my list.

J Says

I love traveling to new stadiums, I love football, and I love people dressed up in funny outfits. For me, the Army-Navy game had it all. Somehow the Cadets and Midshipmen managed to show a fierce sense of competitiveness without acting like drunk college idiots. It was quite a sight to see waves of uniformed fans cheering in unison. The game left such a good impression on me that I almost forgot how cold it was. Almost. Man, it was COLD. You East Coasters call this football weather? I call it frostbite!


blunoz said...

Wow, I'm impressed two non-military folks would suffer in that cold to attend the game in person. The Army-Navy game truly is an awesome game to see in person. There is so much ceremony and tradition to it that you don't get to see on TV. You got some great pictures of it - the exchanging of the prisoners, the flybys, the parachutes, the singing of BOTH schools' alma matters at the end, etc. Glad you enjoyed the experience!

Gooooooooo Migh-ty Naaaa-vy, Go Go Mighty Navy!

Anonymous said...

I was at this too (as a girlfriend of a USNA midshipman) and agree with everything you said about the immense amount of respect and pride at the stadium that day.

I love (wish I could underline this) the commentary on your blog from both of you as well as the pictures and will continue to read for tips on things to do around DC!