A History of Army-Navy Games at the Academies

On Friday, the Naval Academy and US Military Academy announced the Army-Navy Game would be played in West Point for the first time since 1943. This move is logical considering the climate at both academies, especially West Point, and their desire to protect the Cadets and Midshipmen from COVID-19.

The rivalry has been played at the Academies only six times. The first four games came in the rivalry’s infancy, from 1890-1893, with Navy winning three of those games. The Midshipmen won the 1890, 1892, and 1893 games, while the Cadets won the 1891 game. The game took a six-year break after a near duel between an admiral and general occurred after the 1893 game, but returned with a heightened popularity leading to its playing at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field in 12 of the next 13 years.

America’s game made stops at Chicago in 1926 and even Princeton, NJ, in 1905, thanks to then Princeton president Woodrow Wilson, before returning to the academies. In 1942, due to World War II travel restrictions, the teams played at the Naval Academy’s Thompson Stadium, in front of a crowd of 11,000. A restriction of attendance to only those within 10 miles of Annapolis forced West Point’s Corps of Cadets to stay back. The solution? Have half of the Midshipmen cheer for the Cadets. The Midshipmen won this contest 14-0.

The following year, Army returned the favor of hosting, yet did not have the Cadets cheer for the Midshipmen (how rude!) despite the same 10-mile rule being in place. The Midshipmen once again shut out the Cadets, winning 13-0, as Navy ended the year ranked 4th, while Army ended at #11.

All of this brings us to today. Due to the pandemic a lot of things in college football have looked different. Whether it be the limited crowds or even empty stadiums, nothing has been the same. While America’s Game had to adjust to this year like most of college football, for now the game is still on as the fitting cap to an uncertain football season. Whether they realize it or not, all involved, spectator and player alike are part of an unforgettable moment in college football history.

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