If you need any proof of how inconsequential the Army-Navy Game is to college football, look no further than the fact that the entire college football bowl game schedule is released a full week before the two teams finish their schedules. Army hasn't been a national championship contender since the Cold War, and the last time Navy won a championship was during the Coolidge administration. In fact, only four times in 60 years have both teams come into the game with winning records.
Since most college graduates, even among military personnel, aren't graduates of the U.S. Military Academy or the Naval Academy, it might lead some to wonder what the ongoing interest is in watching these two seemingly irrelevant teams struggle. Simply put: These two storied teams will always play as long as the United States is a global hegemon. The U.S. military is dominated by graduates of both service academies, so the Army-Navy Game will never, ever go away.
This year's matchup is set for 3 p.m. EST Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Stadium and will be broadcast by CBS. Here are a few reasons why you might actually want to watch it.
1. All the Other Stuff Around the Game
If you don't think the hoopla surrounding this game is important, you're probably one of those people who don't watch Super Bowl commercials. The Army-Navy Game has some pretty unique events even for a college football game. Things like "The Prisoner Exchange," "The March On" and a pregame flyover with more firepower than most countries could manage are pretty impressive sights. It's also probably the only college football game where the winners sing to the losers.
2. It's Actually Good Football
A 62-42 shootout game between ranked rivals might be a lot of fun to watch, but it also isn't very good football. Good football play usually includes an effective defense. The Black Knights and Midshipmen both often play a ground-dominant offense and a stout, hard-nosed defense. When the two teams come together, it makes for competent, entertaining gameplay ... if you're into that sort of thing.
3. It's Also the Only Game On
There's a reason we sit through "Thursday Night Football" every week, even though watching the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears struggle to put up a combined 29 points is as painful as it sounds. It's just because there's no other football game on television that day. A day with football is better than any day without.
4. Rivalry Is Fun
There are a lot of better rivalries out there, sure. Ohio State and Michigan, Auburn and Alabama, and Oklahoma and Texas come to mind immediately. But the great thing about a rivalry like Army and Navy is that anyone can just choose a side and be part of the rivalry fun. Unlike other rivalries, it doesn't matter if you attended the college or are from a particular part of the country. If your grandad served in the Navy, you have a dog in the fight. If you were in the Air Force, Army (as your sister service) can be your team.
All you have to do is make a connection (which won't take long) and you can be as rabid a fan as anyone else.
5. It's Pure College Football
For decades, college football fans believed they were watching amateurs play for the love of the game and not for money. It allowed the NCAA to build a multibillion-dollar empire around the players' unpaid labor. If, as a football fan, you really want the purity of amateur play, then academy football is the place for you. Midshipmen and Cadets (for the most part) aren't planning on going pro; they're planning to serve for at least five years on active duty. Going pro is something that would happen much, much later, if at all.
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