It's unclear whether or not the Air Force-Navy game, slated for Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, will have to be cancelled because of the U.S. government shutdown. But officials at Annapolis are preparing for the worst. The financial impact of calling the game off could result in more than $4 million in lost revenue for the Naval Academy, according to the Capital Gazette. A scheduled reunion for members of Roger Staubach’s 1963 Cotton Bowl team will go on as planned, the paper notes, but with some "scheduling tweaks."
“We could run our entire athletics program and conduct events as we always do without any government funds,” [athletic director Chet] Gladchuk said. “In talking to the Air Force athletic director, their football team could execute the trip without government funding.”
Asked why the Department of Defense was suspending intercollegiate athletic contests if government funds are not required, Gladchuk said he was told it was about “optics.”
“It’s a perception thing. Apparently it doesn’t resonate with all the other government agencies that have been shut down,” Gladchuk said.
More about the status of the game -- as well as about the fate of Saturday's game between Army and Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. -- should be known by Thursday. Hopefully both take place as originally planned. The government can spend as long as it wants trying to figure out its issues, but the number of games that cadets and midshipmen get to play before graduating and entering active duty service is finite. To lose one of them -- and especially one against another service academy -- because of "perception" and "optics" seems just plain unfair.