SB Nation's Every Day Should Be Saturday held a roundtable discussion of the Army-Navy game yesterday with assorted servicemen and women. Here, several of them explain the import of college football's last game of the regular season:
What anyone who didn’t go to one of the academies doesn’t understand is that this game more than any other literally affects the lives of the student bodies involved. Every class at Navy knows their record against Army, every class from Army knows their record against Navy. For the Plebes (freshman) at each Academy your quality of life actually gets better if you win, and god help you if you lose (as in my Plebe year). In many ways the year doesn’t rotate around starting class or graduation, but on winning or losing this one game.
As soon as you start as a student, you learn one thing - Beat Army. Just watch the pain on the faces of the players who lose the game. It's crushing. Hell, it's crushing for me. There are other games that might mean more to other people - crushing Missouri in a bowl last year; embarrassing Notre Dame in NYC this year - but nothing means more to the players or the students than beating Army. I DREAD the day Navy's streak over Army ends.
There will be Army/Navy parties in every major city throughout the country and on every base or post throughout the world. For some of the soldiers and sailors, it may be the only opportunity in a long while to forget about where they are, how much they miss home, and just spend 3 hours cheering their loudest for their respective team. I have been to hundreds if not thousands of sporting events, and this is still my favorite game to be a part of.