Geoffrey Norman’s fine tribute this morning to the annual Army-Navy football game catalogues many of the reason why I try not to miss it. I hope all TAS regulars read the column and watched the Snow Bowl from Philadelphia last Saturday.
Please allow me to add a couple of reasons to watch this fine matchup of true amateurs that the estimable Geoffrey did not list. First, unlike in “major college” games, we can be sure that every man on both sides of the line in this one can spell his name the same way twice in a row. And second, none of the players have to get permission from their probation officer to leave the state for the game. (Philadelphia area natives might also appreciate that this is the only sporting event in the City of Brotherly Love that doesn’t feature a lot of booing. I once heard a sportscaster say of Philadelphia sports fans, “They would boo your kid at an Easter egg hunt.”)
Unlike the pampered and overpaid rabble of the ebbing (some patriots now say the effing) NFL, which has become little more than a subsidiary of Black Lives Matter and no longer features in my Sunday afternoon viewing, no cadet or midshipman uses the football field to disrespect America and its flag. In fact, all of these young men are preparing themselves to follow that flag into harm’s way if needed. They are to be admired and appreciated as much as the NFL hot-dogs are to be ridiculed and shunned.
Duty, honor, and country are still taught at our service academies. (The occasional cheating scandal shows the lessons don’t take in every instance, but at least the schools try and mostly succeed.) Try this kind of moral formation at most of America’s non-service-connected universities and the snowflakes there would be grabbing their Care Bears and heading for the designated safe spaces, much in the manner that Londoners headed for the bomb shelters during the blitz.
America’s service academies bless us in many ways other than just putting on athletic contests in the fine but mostly lost tradition of amateur sports. But we can all tune in to these and enjoy them. And be appreciative that we have capable young men willing to take on the onerous and sometimes dangerous duty facing these ballplayers after their graduation.