So, Mr. Hokie-fan why the picture of a chunk of the Army-Navy Game? The 2018 NCAA Football Regular Season is now officially in the books. The Army-Navy Game now represents the last regular season college football game to be played. Has anybody really thought about why they love football? Where’d it come from? How’d you get to the point where some odd, 140 year old game involve so much joy, elation, devotion, disgust, worry, anger, frustration? You name it. People dump huge amounts of money on football, especially college football. When did you find yourself immersed in the game to the point that you actually wait patiently every year for the next season to start?
I have asked myself the question every year since I got too badly beat up and hurt, along with being too slow and small to play my favorite position (Nose Guard/Tackle). Lots of people who finally fell out of organized football never really maintain any interest in it. The reality though, is most of those of us who played it at any level feel drawn to it like we were invited to the best concert from our favorite band. You hear the strains of your favorite song, and you are pulled by it. You feel it like a heartbeat.
Why is it that I am so attached to a sport that I spend hours photographing, editing, and writing about my alma matter’s football program? I really can’t point at anything specific; it just seemed to be a way my family’s Fall activities seemed to go. Football was something that joined us together, that we shared and enjoyed (us being my Father, Mother, and me – my sister wasn’t much of a football fan). I remember something about it when my Dad, recently back from his first tour Vietnam, said to me during the 1967 (1968 actually) Super Bowl (II). The game wasn’t “THE GAME” just yet. The Packers were playing the Raiders and not a whole lot of folks were interested in the game, but we were watching. It was taco night in the living room around the 19” Black and White TV that looked like a piece of furniture.
Dad was speculating on the game, I really don’t remember exactly what he was talking about except that he loved the AFL, but couldn’t stand the Raiders (he was a Jets fan) and the NFL was stogy and old fashioned. The game quality didn’t last long, eventually the Pack pulled it out and won, but the point was made that the AFL team might… Then he said something sort of funny… “If it wasn’t for football you wouldn’t be here.” What? What’s that supposed to mean? So, my mother tells me the story of how they met.
My father was a sophomore (they are called Yearlings) at the United States Military Academy (USMA) commonly referred to as “West Point”. My mother was a sophomore at a small Catholic all women’s college in Highland Falls, NY – it’s now a part of the USMA campus – Ladycliff. It seems that the nuns who ran my mother’s school, and the academy officer’s club wives had this gimmick where young ladies from the local women’s colleges – and other’s but mostly women’s colleges., could sign up for a “blind date” with a cadet that would be centered on the very structured activities and public strictures of a 1950’s era Army football game. So, my mother and father met on September 24, 1955 at the Army Furman game (Army obliterated Furman 81-0).
My mother was clueless about what class my father was in, or what a company was, or regiment. She did, however, know what a fullback was, and that the linebackers were the guys playing in mid field – and responsible for most of the tackles on defense. She could describe the different kinds of running plays, and even knew about the basics of first downs, and punts. Her high school in the Hudson Valley of New York (Kingston) had a good football team and my mother had always been athletic. She just gravitated to the sport. In fact, until the day she passed away she was a rabid fan of the Redskins, Hokies, and most especially Army. I think they were engaged by Christmas.
So, we were a football family. We were born on a crisp cool early Fall day at Miche Stadium. The first college football game that I ever attended was there; Army – Oregon 1970, and ironically my second football game would be seven years later as we marched on to the field at Lane Stadium to face the Texas A&M Aggies. I think we did better than Furman, but I would have paid for that tie that Army grabbed from Oregon.
That’s probably why I do this now, and will as long as permitted.
Today, my very first football team; Army won its third game in a row against its arch rival Navy. Navy wasn’t particularly good this season, and Army had 9 wins under its belt. It didn’t matter at all. In the end, it was a one score game with an over/under that didn’t even hit 30. None of the players on the field are there to use football to fund an education, or be the next stepping stone to a lucrative career in the pros. The young men faced off at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, PA where there because they love playing the game and their fans love them for it.
To all of my fellow Army fans, and Navy folks too; it is always a great way to end a season. And just for posterity, as Gobbler Country’s editor I’d like to say. The other guys are free to chime in if they have an opinion.
GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY! (for 2019)
The GC Staff is waiting to hear from the Military Bowl folks on our application for credentials. If we get them, Josh S. will be covering from the Press Box, and yours truly will be taking pictures from the field.
Hey! Tell us how you became a football fan. We’d love to hear it. Comment away.