Army and Navy first met on the field on November 29, 1890. They have met annually all but five years since then, and in every season since 1930. The game has been held at several locations throughout its history, including New York City and Baltimore, but has most frequently been played in Philadelphia, roughly equidistant from the two academies. Historically played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (a date on which most other major college football teams end their regular seasons), the game is now played on the second Saturday in December and is traditionally the last regular-season game played in NCAA Division I football.
The rivalry between Annapolis and West Point, while friendly, is intense. The phrases “Beat Navy!” and “Beat Army!” are ingrained in the respective institutions and have become a symbol of competitiveness, not just in the Army–Navy Game, but in the service of the country. The phrases are often used at the close of (informal) letters by graduates of both academies. A long-standing tradition at the Army–Navy football game is to conduct a formal “prisoner exchange” as part of the pre-game activities. The prisoners are the cadets and midshipmen currently spending the semester studying at the sister academy. After the exchange, students have a brief reprieve to enjoy the game with their comrades.
The American national anthem is sung by members of the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy choirs. At the end of the game, both teams’ alma matres are performed. The winning team stands alongside the losing team and faces the losing academy’s students; then the losing team accompanies the winning team, facing their students. This is done in a show of mutual respect and solidarity. Since the winning team’s alma mater is always played last, the phrase “sing second” has become synonymous with winning the rivalry game.
Through the 2023 meeting, Navy leads the series 62–55–7 however, until next year…”Go Army!” rules the day.
See you next year for the 2023 game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.