No tradition like the Army Navy game

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports
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It would be hard to imagine a greater rivalry than that of the Army-Navy football game. The two military academies will renew that tradition this weekend for the 112th time. Although the teams from Army and Navy do not carry the same weight they once did, it would be virtually impossible to come up with two entities with more history than these two rivals. And to put it into perspective, two rivals that go head-to-head in athletic competition and later serve side-by-side to protect and defend these United States. This camaraderie is maintained even in their gridiron showdown. At game’s end, the winning team shows its respect by standing alongside the losing team while their rival sings its school song to their student body. When that’s done, both turn to the opposite student body while the winning team sings its school song to their student body. The seniors on both clubs know this not only could be their final football game, but also draws them nearer to graduation and active duty. They realize, too, there are those among them who might not return if called to serve on the field of combat. Rivalries of this magnitude cannot be manufactured. There has to pre-exist something more than two teams meeting annually, or repeatedly, in athletic competition. There has to be something more. There are interstate rivalries like Oklahoma vs. Texas, Michigan vs. Ohio State, and intrastate battles between schools such as Alabama vs. Auburn, or Florida vs. Florida State. And, nearby academic rivals like Cal vs. Stanford. All that’s needed to get the juices flowing is for the student bodies and alumni to get fired up, or to fan the flames of state loyalty. The annual battle between the Cadets of Army and Midshipmen of Navy transcends those issues. The rivalry has little to do with location, other than being a part of the U.S., or of allegiance – which is the same. It is a national rivalry. There are great rivalries at this level. Few would deny what has developed between Whitney and Rocklin as far as retaining bragging rights. And the Thunder has also had a natural rivalry with Del Oro because of proximity and familiarity. Lincoln and Whitney also have the makings of an outstanding rivalry. Before Rocklin High School was established, many graduates from this area once wore the black and gold, and still feel an attachment to the Golden Eagles. Similar is that of the millions who have served this country in either the Army or the Navy. The vast majority never attended West Point or Annapolis, but they have a natural affiliation. Of course, there is the Commander-in-Chiefs Trophy when the Air Force Academy is thrown into the mix. However, the Falcons of Air Force didn’t come on the scene until almost 70 years after Army and Navy played their first football game against one another. Saturday, Army (3-8) and Navy (4-7) will go at it again. It might not be the most enticing game of the season, but it’s a tradition bigger than football, itself.