This coming Saturday, we will all have the privilege to witness the game of football the way it should always be played. When the game is complete, no matter the victor, we will all be left with having witnessed that Character, Honor, Respect, and Commitment were poured onto the football field for four tenaciously contested quarters.
Neither team is playing for a national title. The players are not playing for the Heisman Trophy, nor a higher position on NFL Draft Day, yet, they will play with a higher resolve than any football game we have watched all season. If you can ignore the score, and just watch HOW the game is played, you will find so many lessons being taught in these three hours of football.
You will see Commitment. These young men will display a level of commitment to each other, and more importantly, to a higher purpose than any of the teams you will watch in the coming bowl series (including the playoffs). The score will not dictate the level of intensity. The fear of letting one another down will. You will see these young men completely willing to sacrifice their own personal glory for the glory of the team. The score can be lop-sided or tied, there will be no time during the game when either team believes that they cannot win. They will be committed to victory until the game is over.
You will see Respect. Though this is one of the greatest rivalries of all time, and if you know any graduates from these academies, you know that the rivalry goes much deeper than what we see on the football field. When the game is done, there will be a high level of respect for each other and for the opponent. Even in the post-game interviews, you will hear the players speak to the fact that in the end, they are all on one team when it comes to protecting our freedom. They will respect one another for the level of intensity, heart and soul poured on to the field. They will respect that fact that neither would concede victory to the other, no matter what the score board reads. Though one team could be out matched in talent, they will be respected for matching their opponent's pride and intensity. When the game is done, you will see no greater respect for an opponent than what you will see between these two football teams, because the team that is victorious will understand how much the the team that lost wanted to win, and what is at stake every year.
You will see Honor. These young men, their class-mates in the stands, and the alumni watching all over the world have made a commitment to serve our country. There is no greater honor than a human being willing to lay their life on the line so that others may enjoy life and freedom. When you watch this game this weekend, watch with the knowledge that these players are opening a window into the true honor our men and women in uniform displayed everyday around the world. What is even more important, and too often goes un-said, is that they desire this sacrifice, fore, the reward they seek is not in recognition from the public, but in the trust of their comrade, and the warmth in their soul. If you watch closely, you will not only see it, you will feel it. That is honor.
Last, but certainly not least, you will see Character. These players are excellent athletes, and good football players, but the number one criteria that they are measured against is the strength of their character. This is the core to leadership. When their time at West Point and at Annapolis has ended, they will become officers. They will, at a young age, lead men and women in the defense of our country. If you have sons and daughters serving in the enlisted ranks, these are the people who will lead them. I know I could never follow anyone who does not have character. The young men and women of our military academies are recruited first and foremost for their character. America, as a whole, from businesses to individuals, should take note that the reason we tune in, the reason why this game is so tightly contested, the reason why this is a great tradition in sports has nothing to do with the talent of the players, nor a trophy that is awarded, but because of the character that will be on display. Character is the core to true leadership, and that is the standard these players are held to, and we will get to see that standard on display.
This Saturday, watch this game with a higher purpose than treating this like just another football game, because the players will be playing for a higher purpose. Watch it through a perspective of what I described in this post. Watch it with your children. Look for the elements I have written about. This Saturday's Army/Navy Game will be a rare occasion to witness not only how the game of football should be played, but also how the great game of life should be lived.
As a United States Marine, I must pick what side of the fence I am on in this rivalry:
All Time Record:
Navy Wins 58
Army Wins 49
Chris Waters is an Executive Leadership Coach and Owner & Founder of Agoge Leadership Development LLC.
Share Your Thoughts!
I encourage and look forward to your thoughts and feedback on my blog posts. Please feel free to take the time to share your comments on the posts that interest you.
The copyright in this website and the material on this website (including without limitation the text, computer code, artwork, photographs, images, music, audio material, video material and audio-visual material on this website) is owned by Christopher Waters and Agoge Leadership Development LLC and its licencors.