The 2020 college football season is in grave jeopardy.
There. I said it.
Many of us have been in denial for months, but the reality is, we’re simply not going to get the season we anticipated. As more and more conferences cancel out-of-conference play — or even cancel fall sports’ competitions completely — many college football fans wonder how this will impact their specific teams’ season.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading faster than it’s slowing, it’s only a matter of time before even more extreme restrictions are put on athletics. The idea of a full college football season can quickly vanish.
While there are a handful of options and possibilities, we won’t waste time speculating on what could possibly work. Instead, let’s talk about what would be a conservative plan that would make sense for all involved: Ensuring that we play one game involving two institutions with their own strict guidelines in place.
Even if the rest of the college football season is canceled or postponed, we can still save the 2020 Army-Navy Game. We can save it, we should save it and we need to save “America’s Game.”
Service Academies are in a unique position. Midshipmen and cadets are required to participate in sports and other physically challenging extracurricular activities. Many cadets and midshipmen fulfill this requirement by playing on teams that participate in NCAA competition. Therefore, it is essential that these young men and women play this coming fall — if possible. Although it may not be possible for all fall sports to play, it is possible for one game to be played at the end of the year.
The Service Academies are also special in the sense that they are much more easily able to ensure their athletes quarantine or ROM (Restriction of Movement). Every cadet and midshipmen is required to live in the on-campus dorms, resulting in close proximity living situations. The academies already limit the students’ ability to leave campus on a normal basis and are considering restricting it even more to reduce the chances of a campus-wide outbreak. (The protocols that Army and Navy have already implemented are a big reason why the Patriot League left the two academies exempt from its decision to scrap fall sports.)
There’s no question that sports bring people together and uplift them during tough times. This has been true for decades. And every December, the Army-Navy Game brings the nation together. If Army and Navy can’t play Air Force on their originally scheduled Saturday this fall, every effort must be made to play the Army-Navy Game.
Fortunately, both athletic directors from Army and Navy are in support of this goal.
Here’s a tweet sent out from Army athletic director, Mike Buddie.
Additionally, Chet Gladchuk, Navy’s athletic director spoke with Heather Dinich of ESPN regarding Navy’s intent to play the game.
“If there’s only one game we’re going to play,” he said, “It’s the Army-Navy game. Unless the pandemic is such at the time that we’re precluded by the city of Philadelphia to play that game, we have every intention of playing Army-Navy.”
The Army-Navy Game is America’s Game because it is so special for so many people across the globe. It’s a momentous occasion for the players who get to put their hard work on display for the nation. It’s a huge morale booster for active duty members who are deployed. It’s a sense of pride, of country and faith in the future for fans watching. And, it’s the culmination for the fall semester for the midshipmen and cadets at their respective schools who are our nation’s future leaders.
And for that, all midshipmen and cadets should be in attendance to support their peers and be rewarded for their demanding and grueling semester that will likely consist of three and a half months quarantined to their respective campuses.
Moreover, for many of the seniors on both the Army and Navy teams, the 2020 Army-Navy game could be the very last time they play any sort of organized football. It is a luxury they deserve.
Indeed. America needs the Army-Navy Game.