Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Game of Their Lives

Time permitting this afternoon, I hope to be able to catch at least a bit of the Army-Navy Game.  I fear that it shall not be among the season's more competitive college games, given that the Black Knights of the Hudson come into today's game with a record of 2-9 whereas the Midshipmen are ranked #21 in the nation and owners of a 9-2 record (having lost only to Notre Dame and to Houston, both of whom are nationally-ranked).  Navy has stood the series' competitive balance on its head in the 21st Century, having lost just once (Army won the 2001 game 26-17). The Middies are on a thirteen-game winning streak.  

While I do not anticipate that this shall be a close game (and I hope that I am wrong), it is still a worthwhile watch for at least two reasons.  First, from the small-world view of a college football fan, it affords the opportunity to watch Navy's exquisitely-talented quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who holds a small gaggle of school records and earlier this season set the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns when he scored his seventy-eighth.    Having earned the starting position about one-third of the way through his freshman season, he is looking to earn his fourth consecutive victory in the Army-Navy Game.  

It is also, to me at least, a worthwhile watch because of the young men on each team.  The United States has been engaged in combat in at least one part of the world since October, 2001.  Yet, every year young men and women matriculate to the campuses of this nation's Service Academies.  They do so with the express understanding that they are trading the opportunity to get a college education for a commitment to serve a fixed term of years in the United States Military.  It is a decision that takes a measurable amount of courage simply to make and an immeasurable amount of character to adhere to and to honor.  

The distinction between real, grown-up stuff and the enjoyable yet admittedly frivolousness of big-time college sports is never more apparent to me than it is at the Army-Navy Game.  Do not misunderstand, I enjoy the hell out of college sports and root fervently for my beloved Buffaloes. That being said, nothing points out the absurdity of a sportscaster referring to a situation as "do or die" quite as starkly as the realization that on the field this afternoon shall be young men for whom actual, real-life "do or die" situations await and that these young men, regardless of the academy for which they play, share a common trait.  

Theirs is a mission for which each of them has volunteered.  


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