Good morning, Sports Fans
It’s game day! College football kicks off. Lots of fans, lots of fun, lots of drinking, lots of trash talk. Lots of talk, when you get right down to it, of speaking of one’s team in some rather militaristic terms. “We’re going to crush the enemy,” etc.
For the most part, it’s all in good fun. However, some schools have young men (they’re college students, remember) who will soon be facing combat of a very different sort. In particular, the United States Military Academy (Army), the US Naval Academy, and the US Air Force Academy. There are some other schools founded on military traditions with a Corps of Cadets (The Citadel and Texam A&M come to mind), but for the service academies’ students, it all going to get very real very soon.
And remember, regardless of whom you’re rooting for today, the service academies will be fighting for us all.
Most of the time, it’s just another game on the schedule when a service academy rolls into town. Given the national spread of their fan bases and the small sizes of their home fields, they’re on the road more often than not. That said, some students have taken the usual trash-talking of the opponent to an extra-low level, taunting them for military scandals and mistakes, and implying they’ll soon be dead. Here is a story from 2007 involving Rutgers University, a school not widely thought to have a rowdy fan base. And here. And another with an apology from RU. And here in 2013 against Middle Tennessee State University, again, a team not widely thought to have rowdy fans.
In response, and perhaps knowing what kind of microscope they would be under if it happened in their stadium, when Ohio State played Navy in 2009, the school asked fans to salute Navy when they took the field. Other events took place when the Buckeyes went to Baltimore to play Navy today. I am not aware that anything disrespectful took place in Columbus in 2009, in Baltimore today, or if any other schools have had similar responses. If so, please drop me a note.
In case you’re wondering, Ohio State won today 34-17.