Everybody likes “old school” in sports. We talk about the “old school” we argue about certain players today who are “old school” and we even dress up our teams occasionally in the “old school” uniforms. Or, well… new fangled things that kinda look like the uniforms of yore.
But it’s really hard to still DELIVER true “old school” stuff in sports. It’s especially hard to create a sporting environment of old school “give a shit” from players and fans. We are took distracted as a society, too into ourselves, too impatient.
The hardest part of re-recreating TRUE “old school” in sports, is to somehow convince everybody involved (players, coaches, fans, media) that no matter what happens…. IT’S STILL JUST A FUCKING GAME!
The world of sports that exists only in black and white film and television, didn’t bother getting too wrapped up in who won or lost. There were wars to fight. Men were waiting in line just to get a dangerous job building a skyscraper with zero concept of worker safety.
There wasn’t just no replay, there was NO TV! You WENT to the game, because you had to if you wanted to ACTUALLY SEE THE GAME!
Today we’re practically waterboarded in the games, the highlights, the viral videos, the GIFs and the memes. They are on our phones immediately, and they are in spectacular super-HD and shot in time-melting slow-motion.
Somehow, Army-Navy manages to bend the clock back to a black-and-white world.
The stadium is full. Nobody leaves early. The soldiers and their families root like the world depends upon it. There are no end zone dances, guys getting ejected for fighting, no drunks in the stands, no cheezy dance music blaring over the stadium speakers.
When it’s all over, there’s genuine heartbreak, and even more genuine joy. And sportsmanship the likes of which you can hardly find anymore.
And of course, the football is “old school” too. It’s awful. But who cares? There were two passes thrown in the snow on Saturday in Philly. Two. Total. Combined. Several careless false starts cost Navy a much better chance at a win. It doesn’t matter.
The faces of the Cadets and the Middies as they scream their lungs out standing shoulder-to-shoulder in their impeccable uniforms as they approach almost 7 hours of standing together is a pure time warp. How can they be so energized? How can they be so focused on a game with two passes!?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 9, 2017
Well… it’s because they are better than you and me. And I’m more than happy to say that. These young men and women are exceptional. I get the chance to mingle with them and their families in the team hotel as part the USAA sponsored Army-Navy “radio row” each year. I never fail to be inspired.
Every year, I’ll spend at least one hotel elevator ride with a cadet and his family. I glance at the young man or woman, and I’m struck at how perfect they look. Ever piece of their uniform is perfect. Their hair. Perfect. And the parents carry this amazing look of awe and pride in their kids.
I wish every American could take just one of these short elevator rides. They are amazing.
Even the part of that game now which is certainly “New School” and not old – the now annualized wrinkle of special “alt” uniforms – is cool if you ask me. Once upon a time, each Academy had the same plain gold helmets. This year’s combos were great. Keep ’em coming.
I don’t know how much longer this game can keep delivering such pure old school, but I hope the answer is forever.
Oh. I forgot. Army 14, Navy 13. See everyone next year, back in Philly.
Since 1890, the Army/Navy game has celebrated those who have committed their lives to protecting our country.
For the 118th time, it’s much more than just a football game. pic.twitter.com/f8ruphRpUd
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 9, 2017