Not all West Point cadets get to enjoy the full festivities and experiences of the Army vs. Navy football game. The weekend leading up to the Army vs. Navy game is supposed to be one of the greatest experiences in college football. The weekend is filled with rivalries and parties and fun events. There seems to be constant cheering in Philly and NJ all week long. However, not everyone gets to enjoy those festivities.
For those cadets undergoing disciplinary action, they are acquainted with the “boomerang.” The boomerang is a round-trip bus transport to and from the game with no festivities whatsoever. My dad has experienced both the joy of a full Army-Navy weekend and the disappointment of the boomerang. Both experiences are equally memorable. “March On” is a memorable ceremony at the beginning of the game where all cadets March on to the field before the game. My dad recalled a particular story regarding the “March On” ceremony.
“I remember a friend of mine providing a full army cadet uniform to his cousin (who was not a cadet) to join the 'March On' ceremony. My friend's cousin was instantly yelled at by actual cadets for trying to join their ceremony. He quit immediately afterwards.”
As soon as my family and I entered our two-week mandatory quarantine in Korea, our Navy neighbors put a Go Navy flag on our front porch. We couldn’t do anything for two weeks. My youngest sister, who was eight at the time, was beside herself and has since then painted pumpkins and left chalk messages showing her support for Army football. This year, motivated by our neighbors' actions during our quarantine, we conducted a spirit mission.
A spirit mission is an endeavor to deflate the morale of the opposing team by replacing their paraphernalia with that of your own team. For our neighbors spirit mission, we removed their Navy theme colored Christmas decorations and replaced it with everything Army, black, and gold.
The midshipmen and cadets create inspiring spirit videos to rally their team. You can find my personal favorite Army spirit video on Youtube, titled “Lead From The Front: An Army/Navy Short Film 2017.” Stealing mascots is also unofficially encouraged. These mascot stealing pranks have been happening yearly since 1953 when the Army stole the Navy’s Bill the Goat and plopped him in the back of a convertible. In 2012, Bill the Goat was found parked right in front of the Pentagon.
Since 1890, the Army’s Black Knights and the Navy’s Midshipman have had a fierce rivalry when it comes to football. The Army has won 53 games, while the Navy has won 61, there have also been 7 ties. The Army and Navy have met to play this historic game annually since 1930. There have been only a handful of years where they did not meet, such as the 4 year break between 1894 and 1898. The game was cancelled twice during WWI by the War Department in the years 1917 and 1918. Army vs. Navy has played during WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, 9/11 and the resulting conflicts. From the years 2002 to 2016, Navy kept an unfortunately long winning streak of 14 years. This year was also historic in a sense. The legendary game was played at West Point for the first time since 1949 and this was the first time they kept Navy at zero points since 1969.
There is something very special about the players in the Army vs. Navy game. These NCAA Division 1 players are cadets and midshipmen who also have to endure the rigorous courses given to them. They are treated like everyone else in a military academy, and they must also excel athletically in a highly competitive and televised sporting environment
Hopefully this inspires you to conduct your own spirit mission in a friendly, non-criminal way to spur on team spirit and the love of this classic rivalry. Whether you are on the winning side or the losing side of the next game, we are ultimately all the winners since these brave cadets and midshipmen will go on to protect and guarantee our country's freedom and future.
Go Army Beat Navy!!