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A contemporary sports fan with a brain surveys the pro and college sports landscapes and is forced to consider, “is this really worth my time, money, and energy?”
Astronomical salaries, lunatic agents, endless analysis, coaches who think they’re Patton, and fans who feel every blown call is a grounds for an appeal to the Supreme Court — it all takes its toll.
And then there is the Army-Navy game.
This weekend, Philadelphia welcomes the two service academies for their 85th consecutive meeting (116th overall). In the stands you will not find a more congenial, good-natured group of fans anywhere in the country. On the field you will find patriotism, respect, fair play, and hard tackles.
The game this year pits the shockingly good Navy Midshipmen (9-2) against the Army Black Knights (2-9) who, unfortunately, are still struggling. No matter. These two squads will go at it tooth and nail. The players care deeply, and will give 100 percent on every play, every minute, and every hit. When the final whistle blows, they will shake hands, jog to each other’s sideline, and sing the school anthem.
And then they will get on with their lives, either as officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army, or back to class in one of the most rigorous academic environments in the country.
As a fan, who can’t but admire the passion, the commitment, and the purity of the endeavor? Who can’t but be glad that this game goes on and still holds sway over our country? Critics may dismiss the game as not the highest quality football. They could not be more wrong.