Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas, USN/US Navy Mass Communication/Public Domain
By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor
I’m a bit late in the news cycle on this one -so please forgive me- but this needs to be addressed.
In a joint statement, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy announced a new five-year “cycle” for the Army-Navy Game. What does this mean? It means the game will be played in five different cities throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic beginning with the 2022 game in Philadelphia. The game won’t return “home'' to Philadelphia until December 2027.
I’m sorry, this is bullshit!
I get the Army-Navy Game is “America’s Game”, but it is as much “Philadelphia’s Game.” I have no problem sharing it with Baltimore or New York/New Jersey because there’s been a historic precedent. But parading this thing all over the Northeast? Come on!
The game has been played 122-times, 89-times in Philadelphia. The city hosted the game every year from 1932-1982 with the exception of during WWII when the games were moved back to the respective academies. The city was chosen because it’s roughly halfway between Annapolis and West Point and its rich military history (hello, American Revolution).
This all makes sense, right?
Hell, you can even factor in the Continental Army’s base in Valley Forge, the old United States Navy Yard, and the former New York Shipbuilding facility in Camden as more historic reasons for the game being held in Philly.
Again, I have no problem if the game is “shared” with the New York metropolitan market or even Baltimore-Washington. Why, because it’s been done before. New York/New Jersey has hosted the game 21-times and Balt-Wash has hosted 10-times. Those cities always hosted once every four-to-five years when the game was not played in Philadelphia.
If it ain't broke, why fix it?
President and Mrs. Truman attending the 1950 Army-Navy Game at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia. Photo: Abbie Rowe/Public Domain/National Archives
The answer is simple, money.
The game is now going to be bounced all over because of the almighty dollar and that’s just not right. And that’s the problem with college sports. The traditions of the game are being sacrificed for the money.
Pretty soon we’ll be lucky to have this game return to Philadelphia on a regular basis. It will be paraded around the nation going to the highest bidder. Hell, nothing says Army-Navy like a crisp December afternoon in Tempe!
In my household, Army-Navy has always been a huge date on the calendar. It’s not just a football game but an event, a source of pride. If we’re not lucky enough to go to the game we have a huge family “tailgate.” The roots of this tradition can be traced back to my grandfather and father.
My grandfather, Jack Whalen #363/6625, was a Fairmount Park Ranger/Philadelphia Police officer and his district always provided additional security during the game. I heard the stories as a kid, not about the thrilling games, but meeting Presidents and the camaraderie that came following the game with my Pop-Pop’s fellow officers. He was also a United States Navy veteran that served during the Korean Conflict. That day, that game meant something to him and by extension the rest of the family.
The same can be said for my father, PO1 Michael F. Lipinski, United States Navy.
My dad served during the end of the Vietnam War after enlisting in the United States Navy. He instilled my love for football and explained why Army-Navy was of the utmost importance. A Father Judge graduate, I could tell the Army-Navy game was always a bit more important than even an Eagles game. That always struck me as odd because he was a die-hard Birds’ fan. I learned about the “Judge 27” when I was a bit older and it clicked.
Perhaps I’m letting my emotions get the best of me. After all, it’s just a football game, right? Oh well, times change, I guess.
The 1994 Army-Navy Game being played at Veterans Stadium. Photo: Gordon Sullivan Collection/Public Domain
Anyway, Go Navy! Beat Army!