Monday, July 02, 2007

The Army Navy Game in Perspective

Last fall I wrote an article for the Fan House making the case that the Army-Navy Game was the premier rivalry in not only college football sports, but all of American sports. The basis for the argument was nothing new, that being that the unique history, pageantry, and symbolism of the game echo something which is, to borrow a line from author David Lipsky, absolutely American.

Unfortunately, many fans of the game and media services do not see it that way, as indicated by a fairly recent question asking which rivalry has "fallen the farthest." As some would expect, the Army-Navy game has fallen under that category, and judging by the poll results it seems to be one of the games that has "fallen" the farthest.

The poll however has not gone unnoticed by Navy fans. Today, The Bird Dog takes a look at the Army Navy game and asks "what makes a rivalry game?" His analysis is, in my opinion, spot on. Here's an excerpt:

The point I’m trying to make is that it isn’t the rivalry that makes it good. It’s just a game with two powerhouse teams that people want to watch. Other than the fact that it’s an annual contest, is it any different than the Ohio State-Texas series that we had the last couple of years? Not really, from the perspective of the average fan. And that’s the problem...The best rivalries are games where the passion of the teams and their fans are the same whether they are undefeated or winless. When rivalry bragging rights are more important than a national championship, that’s what makes for a good rivalry.

I've added the emphasis, because I think it's important to grasp the point at hand. The Bird Dog goes on to add that games like Williams-Amherst and Harvard-Yale also exemplify the spirit of a true rivalry, but it is the national appeal and rooting interest of the American people which make the Army-Navy game the quintessential American sports rivalry. The Army-Navy game, he writes, transcends the bonds of school or state affiliation, something that the Red River Shootout or the World's largest Outdoor Whatever Party will never be able to do, no matter the size of their TV audience.

This is definitely a must read article not only for fans of Army or Navy, but also for college football fans in general.

1 comment:

Gary said...

In my estimation the media is the reason why the Army-Navy game has fallen from the ranks of those big "rivalry games".
I think even in the 60`s and early 70`s the game seemed to be more a highlight and celebration of college football.
But with the recent addition of all these conference championship games on the same day-the networks treat it as a second class game with the lowest of the announcers drawing the straw for that game.
While ads are all over abot the championship games-maybe they work in a small blurb about our game and usually more about the patriotic aspect- not that these are good teams.
Now granted the records have not been great either but that never stops the major networks from hyping a bad Texas-Oklahoma or Miami-Florida State or Michigan vs ND in sub par years.
While it is a great rivalry-unfortunately the media have influenced many college fans into thinking that its some cornball-old school-dinosaur game and not a must see game (as it should be) for the entire Nation.
Also please dont get me started on that as we always hear the game is huge across the entire country yet we only get miniscule 2-3% ratings lately-so that cant be true.
The media boosts the hype and interest and they can tear it down as well- they basically are the reason the game has "fallen" form the great rivalry ranks even if we who are Navy supporters think otherwise.