Since 1890, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy have come together in one football stadium filled with anticipation, rivalry, and most importantly, pride. This year and for the 120th time, the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen will meet in Philadelphia on December 14th for a 3:00pm kickoff. This game comes with over 100 years of history and a long list of traditions. These traditions embrace our country’s love of football rivalries as well as the history of these two military academies that dates back further than the football games themselves.
The history of their rivalry is unmatched
The teams first played each other in 1890, and beginning in 1930 they began to go head-to-head annually. History and football tend to bring in quite the crowd. Through the years, you’d find some notable audience members including Presidents such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and John F. Kennedy, just to name a few. Fans and alumni from across the country will travel in anticipation of a experiencing another great game, but no matter who wins the bragging rights for the next year, every spectator acknowledges the feats that these students have and will overcome as the future defenders of the United States.
Watching the ‘March On’ will give you chills
Annually, over 9,000 Midshipmen and Cadets also attend the game and come celebrate and cheer on their teammates and respective academies. It is a sight to see, but even more grand, is the show before the game begins. Each company and its commanders take the field after being announced and show off what their academy is all about. These young men and women fill the field and humbly bring a sense of pride spectators are not quick to forget.
The “Prisoner Exchange” is the perfect beginning to the game
This tradition has more amicable roots than you might expect. West Point and the Naval Academy begin each fall semester swapping some students to give these students the chance to gain a better understanding of and respect for their opposite branch. At the start of the game, the students who participated in this exchange program ceremonially cross the field to be released, only temporarily, to their peers and friends to help cheer on their true home team.
Their taunting signs are all in good fun
The Army and Navy student bodies can mock their opponents like any other college football following. These signs truly do speak for themselves.
Their “Honoring the Fallen” shows us what true sportsmanship is all about
No matter who wins and who loses, each team will join the other in singing their alma mater at the close of the game. The winners will first face the losing team’s fans and join them in singing. Next, the losing team joins the winners and faces their fans as well. It may seem incredibly simple, but this act of respect goes a long way in showing that no matter the outcome, both teams represent our country and will always support each other.
The City of Brotherly Love—loves hosting the game
Although the locations of the game are changed every now and then, Philadelphia stands to be the true home of the game. A neutral location and one of our nation’s most historic cities, Philly is the perfect meeting point for these two academies, their alumni and throngs of Navy and Army personnel and fans. The game will remain in Philadelphia for 2019, 2020, and 2022. In 2021, it will be played at MetLife Stadium as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of September 11th.
For more about gameday tailgating and other information about this year’s game follow this link!
(Written by Kate Wildonger)