5 Reasons Army-Navy Game Is the Best Tradition in College Football

Zach Dirlam@Zach_DirlamSenior Analyst IIDecember 6, 2012

5 Reasons Army-Navy Game Is the Best Tradition in College Football

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    The Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen will face each other for the 113th time this Saturday in Philadelphia to conclude the 2012 college football season, but the two military academies are participating in a tradition much bigger than the game of football every time they take the field against one another.

    For the first time since 2005, the teams will battle for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, since the two military academies swept the Air Force Falcons this season. In addition, the Midshipmen and Black Knights will compete for the Thompson Cup, which is awarded annually to the winner of the Army-Navy rivalry.

    What else makes this storied tradition so great, though? Click ahead to find out!

The History of the Rivalry

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    Although neither of these teams have been national powers for quite some time, the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen battle for inter-service bragging rights every year, and they will be getting together on the gridiron for the 113th time this Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

    Navy leads the overall series with a record of 56-49-7, and the Midshipmen have dominated the Black Knights as of late by winning 10 straight games and 13 of the last 15 meetings.

    These two teams played each other for the first time in 1890, and they have met annually since 1930. Both teams reserve the last game on their respective schedules to play the storied rivalry.

    Another storied tradition that dates back to the early contests between Army and Navy is the postgame singing of the alma maters. Once the clock runs out, the Midshipmen and Black Knights will stand side-by-side and sing to the losing academy's students first, followed by the winning academy's student section.

The Uniforms

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    How could anyone not love the uniforms donned for the service academies' annual meeting to conclude the regular season?

    As of late, the uniforms have been some of the best the rivalry has ever seen. Navy's can be seen in the picture above, with the distinguishing feature being the anchor on the helmets, accompanied by the blue uniforms.

    Navy's uniforms will look similar this year, but the since the Midshipmen are the away team the jerseys will be white with dark blue shoulders, while the Black Knights will pay homage to the 1944 Army teams.

    The uniforms are similar to the Black Knights' traditional black and gold jerseys, but they will be a tribute to the start of Army's run of three straight national titles along with their famous World War II victory at the Battle of the Bulge.

    By far the coolest feature of Army's uniforms this season is the historical map that is on the gloves, sleeves, numbers, helmet stripes and the inside of the players' shoes.

    In addition, Army's uniforms will feature a patch to honor the 101st Airborne Division.

Presidents Tend To Show Up

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    Many of the country's presidents have attended the Army-Navy rivalry game, and it is tradition for the Commander in Chief to sit with the Naval Academy for one half and the Military Academy for the other half.

    Barack Obama attended last year's game at FedEx Field, which is located in Andover, Md. Other past presidents that have dropped by the annual rivalry game include George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and John F. Kennedy.

    There has been no confirmation as to whether or not President Obama will attend this year's game, but it would not be a huge surprise to anyone if he decided to make an appearance.

Mascot Theft Is Encouraged

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    In today's rivalries, we see a lot of trash talking leading up to the games, but the Army Black Knights choose to let their actions do all the talking and typically set out to steal Bill the Goat, which is the mascot of the Navy Midshipmen.

    The tradition of stealing the mascot dates back to the week before the Midshipmen and Black Knights were scheduled to play each other in 1953.

    Some of the Army cadets were able to sneak into Annapolis, steal the goat from behind the stadium and present the fabled mascot to their brothers in arms to a round of applause during a pep rally.

    This year, the Black Knights have gone above and beyond their past antics with Bill. Members of the Military Academy stole Bill and left him on the side of the road in front of the Pentagon.

    Even if you're not a fan of these respective programs, you've got to love a little mascot thievery.

It's Bigger Than Football

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    While football is the main reason the Army-Navy rivalry is showcased, this weekend's game and all of the past meetings have been about much more than athletic competition and should be viewed as a celebration of the future defenders of our great country.

    The Army-Navy game has the power to make us forget about who took home the Heisman Trophy this year, who got shafted by the BCS and whether or not Coach A is the right fit for Program B.

    For at least one weekend, a football game will be more about the people who are actually playing for the love of the game instead of trying to increase their NFL draft stock and their stories, rather than everything else that is wrong or right with college football.

    This game provides future members of our military one final chance to showcase their skills and compete against one another for bragging rights before they go on to much bigger and better things outside of football.