WTF REDUX

Dammit, now I’m mad. I’m going to be “that grad,” and I don’t want to be. But you’ve forced my hand, David Ausiello. This isn’t exactly the most critical issue in the world, but now I’ve gotta say something.

So I assume everyone’s seen Dave’s piece on “Team Awesome” by now. If not, you can read it here. Go ahead and read that first.

OK, now that you’re back we’ll get down to business. Dave saw my earlier comments about the new Navy version of “Section 8” and shot me a note saying, “I thought you would like these folks!” I know where he’s coming from. You see, when Dave and I were at the Naval Academy, people who actually cheered for Navy were looked down upon. Fanatics like Dave and I were borderline outcasts. It was pretty sad. I mean, we lived with these guys, we went to class with these guys, we went through the same crap as these guys… But cheering them on? No, that’s not what the cool kids did. So the fact that there are now superfans there warms the heart a little. It was unheard of 10 years ago. But despite my personal history, I just can’t get on board with Navy’s “Blue and Gold Section.” So why?

We’ll start with the genesis of this nonsense. What do you think of when you think of the Air Force Academy? You think of all things fake and contrived, of course. While Army and Navy have mascots born from tradition, Air Force has a mascot deemed most suitable by a focus group. While Army and Navy share the nation’s greatest rivalry, Air Force invented a trophy to create an artificial sensation of rivalry for themselves. And so when the Air Force Academy created “Section 8,” an assembly of cadets intended to act as a forced, imitation student section that you’d find at most normal schools, was anyone surprised? Of course not. Phony is what Air Force does best! So imagine my dismay two weeks ago when I observed the Naval Academy imitating Air Force’s imitation of other school’s student sections. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but after seeing them a second time during the SMU game, it was pretty obvious. Dave’s article confirmed it, complete with a quote from a mid from this group that stole Air Force’s idea… Making fun of Army for stealing one of Navy’s ideas. Oh the irony.

So apparently there’s a bunch of firsties called “Team Awesome” that gets to hand-pick boisterous mids to join this “Blue and Gold section.” These people are plucked from the Brigade, dressed in whatever wacky Navy stuff they have, and put in their own separate group to go crazy. Once upon a time it was the plebe class that served the role of spirit leaders, but apparently that job has now found its way to this group instead. You might be able to tell that I’m not too fond of the concept.

How does it make sense to segregate the mids who actually cheer from the rest of the Brigade? And how does it help to take them out of uniform? Don’t get me wrong– I was never anything close to a model midshipman, and I am as far from HARDCORE HOOYAH JOE NAVY YUT as you can get. But I do appreciate what makes the Naval Academy unique, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to chip into that to make USNA more like any other school. All you do by separating these people is make the Brigade look dead. Maybe I’m the only person that watches films of old games and gets all misty-eyed seeing the Brigade as a whole go nuts for the team. It’s so uniquely Navy. Wearing crazy clothes and trying to get on TV? Dime a dozen.

Color me unimpressed about a bunch of OMG SUPERFANS at a game that they’re required to go to anyway. If they want to make a difference, they should show up for a team that could REALLY use them– like basketball.

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37 Responses

  1. Mike,

    BZ on another non-neutral position. I have not been following this blog of yours very long, but passionate you are. I am sure that there is something that you are neutral on, just haven’t seen it yet.

    The goof-ball stuff in the Mids section that is happening doesn’t bother me one way or another. Maybe I’m getting too old – comes with being a grandfather, I guess. I am watching the football game, which is refreshing since watching Navy these days is satisfying. This is the best it has been in many decades.

    I quite frankly found very little that midshipmen did at USNA anything but adolescent when I was there. Left to our own devices, we screwed around as much as we could. Maybe we didn’t get to suit up the way this set of adolescents is suiting up, but we weren’t any different. I remember games were we had surgical tubing slipshots rigged up so that we could sling water balloons across the field at the visiting cheerleaders. From the first wing 4th deck guys used to shoot coke-can cannons fired with lighter fluid with tennis balls in them at the D&B bugler when he did taps, back when that is how taps went down. You might ask the current USNA squash coach about his Christmas in Bancroft Hall thanks to his legendary and heroic stunt at the Army-Navy game in 1972. I am sure that the list goes on for each generation of Boat Schoolers. The nickname “Spoiled and Pampered Pets of Uncle Sam” applied way back when and I am sure it applies today, too.

    I also think that this current foolishness will eventually self-regulate itself. I think that it’s goofy and not my cup of tea, but it is not damaging USNA’s image. It looks more to me like a bunch of mids figuring out how to get out of the march on, with the Dant letting them. It reflects a different Dant than the last one.

    I just want the football team to improve its play so we can beat Temple and get bowl eligible.

  2. Whoever came up with that name needs to be fried. “Team Awesome”? Seriously? Was “UP WITH MIDSHIPMEN!” already taken?

  3. Like I said, it’s not THAT big of a deal. I didn’t want to dwell on it, but Dave fired a shot across the bow. I had to answer it or the terrorists would win.

  4. Perhaps if the fans @ NMC would act like “fanatics” that move would not have been made in the first place?
    It could also be a way to show that the Brigade and Academy people are “normal and regular Joes and Janes” and kind of sheds a light on trying to let that show as well.
    You think it may have been a moce spawned as result of new CBS college sports contract where they were saying- come on liven up your place?
    Personally when I saw it I had no problem with it and wished some of the zombies sitting around us would start acting like that a bit myself.
    To me it does not reflect in any negative way on the Brigade.
    Through it all we still need to remember these are “kids”.

  5. I don’t think it reflects negatively on the Brigade other than my general embarassment in seeing them copy Air Force. I just think it detracts from what makes the Navy football experience unique.

  6. I am another old fart that agrees with EKW Jr. When I come back for my 40th next year, I think I’ll paint my face blue and gold and see if they will let me join them. It will embarrass the hell out of my 13 year old daughter… and my grandchildren… and Mike.

  7. Mike,

    My bad for not asking Team Awesome if they copied the idea from AF. I had honestly never heard of Section 8 until after I interviewed them. However, I’m not sure they copied it at all. I think Team Awesome just grew out of a few rowdy fans and gained momentum with the new Dant.

    As you know back in the 90s, the Navy Wrestling Team painted their chests at Army Navy games. That is probably where this all started – NOT with AF.

    Anyway, this isn’t about what alumni think…and it isn’t about what may look ideal for an academy cheering section. It is about what helps boost the morale of the team and of the Brigade.

    I jokingly recommended that the B&G section each wear a letter of Kaipo’s name on their chests this week. If you and I were part of the Brigade, we would be fighting over who got to wear the first “K”. If you say anything else, I’ll never forgive you.

  8. These mids can and should be able to exhibit the same spirit and support for the team while in uniform. Be proud of the uniform and the team at the same time. If you wanted to act like you’re at Maryland State University in Annapolis, you should have gone to a different school. Lead by example, not by separating yourself from the brigade, thereby allowing the other mids to think they don’t have to or can’t show support for the team because they aren’t in Team Awesome.

    Back in the David Robinson years, Halsey was quite the place to be for a weekday 7:30 game. Yeah, we had foam fingers and some creative cheering. It was a blast.

    I thought David’s piece was better fitting for a base newspaper. Not much to it that’s newsworthy. I’d have preferred a more extensive interview with the Dant on the subject of getting mids to the games on movement orders (good) and the impact of the 2009+ Army-Navy schedule on the academic calendar.

  9. These mids can and should be able to exhibit the same spirit and support for the team while in uniform. Be proud of the uniform and the team at the same time. If you wanted to act like you’re at Maryland State University in Annapolis, you should have gone to a different school. Lead by example, not by separating yourself from the brigade, thereby allowing the other mids to think they don’t have to or can’t show support for the team because they aren’t in Team Awesome.

    Back in the David Robinson years, Halsey was quite the place to be for a weekday 7:30 game. Yeah, we had foam fingers and some creative cheering. It was a blast.

    I thought David’s piece was better fitting for a base newspaper. Not much to it that’s newsworthy. I’d have preferred a more extensive interview with the Dant on the subject of getting mids to the games on movement orders (good) and the impact of the 2009+ Army-Navy schedule on the academic calendar.

  10. In my day we used to … oh the hell with it. If KN says it’s helping the team win, I guess I’m okay with it. But put me in the “please let’s not copy AF” group, for the record.

    Best way to get out of the march-on was to be on the company tailgate detail. Then you could not only skip the march-on, you could also ditch the uni and soend the whole game drinking in the parking lot. Damn near missed the ’84 upset of S. Carolina that way – had to do a uniform race right there in the parking lot and rush back into the stadium.

    I used to outsource my cheering to the plebes in our company. That was their job. Now I yell my head off. Funny things happen when you start to get old.

  11. For the record, I don’t really care about Team Awesome. They’re basically just extended cheerleaders. I’m talking about having a separate section.

    Dave, I think it’s wrong to divide the Brigade into “fans” and “not fans.” I don’t see how this boosts Brigade morale, either, unless getting the annoying mids who actually cheer away from them so they can finish the book they’re reading makes them happier. Seeing the Brigade jumping up and down in unison over the last few years has been pretty cool. That doesn’t happen if the people who’d lead that kind of stuff are taken out.

  12. By the way, the quickest way to return mid superfans to “loser” status in the Brigade is to separate them and dress them in chem goggles and face paint. And of course it’s a copy of Air Force. You think it’s coincidence that the first time you saw this group was the first game after we went to Colorado Springs?

  13. I agree the name is horrid. This is not the first year for this group. They have been around a couple of years. I agree with Mike in that it takes something away from seeing the entire Brigade going crazy. Not a fan.

  14. “Team Awesome” has been around, but I don’t think the separate Blue & Gold section has.

  15. Team Awesome? More like Team Douche. These guys are all about getting on TV and being recognized as “superfans.”

    The “wrestling team” didn’t paint its chest at football games in the 90’s. Two members of the wrestling team painted their chest (along with some of their classmates) at the ’95 Army-Navy game. The wrestling team as a whole thought it was a dumb idea.

    Chest-painters, face-painters, and overall “crazy” fans are idiots no matter where they are, be it Navy, Air Force, Miami, Alabama, or Texas. It’s only done to call attention to the “fan,” not to help the team. An athlete doesn’t dig down deep and play harder because of a fan. He does it because he is inspired hardwork he put in with his TEAMMATES during the long hours of practice and he doesn’t want to let those TEAMMATES down. I know KN said it helped, but that’s what a good coach says, especially if he wants to make his fans happy. Would the coach really say, “Those guys annoy me.” No because anyone who would act crazy at a game would complain to the AD, bomb the coach’s email, and then burn him in effigy.

    EKW Jr sounds like he had an awesome time at USNA. We never came up with great ideas like those.

  16. These two entities, Section 8 and Team Awesome, together with West Point’s random costumes, make what should be a uniquely SA uniformity turn into a friggin Halloween costume contest. Everybody seems to be going for small, separate attention vice 4000 screaming/jumping members of the Brigade.

    I’m all for spirit , I’m all for loud antics, noisemakers, etc, but I gotta draw the line on this crap. If a couple of dudes randomly want to go half mast in their SDBs and paint Go Navy on their chests like my classmates did, that’s cool. But sanctioning this kind of stuff with rules/requirements seems a bit weird.

    And, one more thing, would the AT/FP Task Force midshipman please stop pacing back and forth in front of my seat. How ’bout sending all the mids back to their seats hanging out in the concourse instead? Thanks.

  17. Mike,
    So where would you sit if you were a mid? You are still missing the point. Mids want to be a part of the Blue and Gold section, and it is quite possible that once they get a taste of being a ‘superfan’ for a game that they will be more into the game the next time when they return to their normal seats.

    Midwatchcowboy,
    As for my article being base newspaper worthy, I’d appreciate it if you forward it to any you know of. Thanks. I could tell you more about your interest in a Dant interview if you email me at offtheyard@gmail.com.

    BCR9751,
    Coach N doesn’t blow smoke. Sure, he wouldn’t say a bad thing about the fans, but I half expected him to say, they’re great and I love them, but they don’t necessarily make a difference. I didn’t lead him anywhere in the interview. I never do.

    Phat Phans,
    Anyone who thinks having Mids in spirit gear at B-Ball is a good idea but having them in spirit gear at football games is a bad idea confuses me. Please explain the difference.

    Mike – sorry for coming onto your site and kicking your butt around like this. I really don’t take pleasure in it. Well, maybe a little bit.

  18. I would sit with my friends in my company. I’ll have to take your word for it that people want to be in it. I would not.

    As for the difference between football and basketball, football games are mandatory. They are mandatory because they serve as a way to put the Brigade on display for local and TV audiences. It’s a PR and recruiting tool that shows how the Naval Academy is a different experience. Basketball games aren’t the same, except for the Army game when it’s on CBS. Not surprisingly, when it comes time for this superfan group to go to something that isn’t mandatory– like basketball games– they disappear. You and I went to basketball games, Dave. I would think the bandwagon nature of this group would repulse you. You’ve gone soft.

  19. Instead of “Team Awesome” they should bring back the 12th Mid program.

    That was a good way to get the Brigade fired up and it came with some great press for not only the football team but also the Academy by highlighting a few of the non-football playing mids.

  20. I like the idea. If it pumps up the Brigade and the team is OK with it… let ’em have at it.

    It wasn’t that long ago that mids were bringing text books tothe games and complaining that it was mandatory to go to the games. Let’s enjoy the added enthusiasm that our winning program has generated.

  21. Mike,

    Saying you’d sit in your company area is like saying you would rather sit with the class of 1950 something instead of with the fans who come to this web site (or some of your pals at your old web stomping ground). I just don’t buy it. Furthermore, I don’t buy your PR angle argument either. I’d be willing to bet Annapolis area residents would prefer NOT having 4,000 mids clog up downtown on Saturdays in the fall. Since I now live amongst these people, I know this to be true.

    I’d also be willing to bet that this Superfan group expands to include more basketball games. The hesitation in the past has been not being able to get approval to show up in spirit gear. (Old Dant versus New Dant).

    What if the Superfan group becomes a traveling ECA that is allowed to go to away games? Yeah, I’m sure tradionalist folks would poo-poo that idea as well, but would that make you join? Or would you prefer watching away games as a Mid in Bancroft Hall or at your sponsor’s?

    I haven’t gotten soft. I’M still a hardcore Navy football fan who posts on as many Navy-friendly web sites as possible to spread the good word of Navy sports. You on the otherhand…

  22. with regard to 12th man… KN stated at the beginning of the season that he would not have a 12th mid this year. 1st year head coach has enough to deal with. I don’t think he rejected idea completely. We may see it back next year.

  23. I have a hard enough time watching Navy sports teams travel to away games in their sweatsuits vice SDBs. I’m not that old and traditionalist, but since when is it wrong to wear a uniform representing the Naval Academy…that goes for in the stands for football games.

    And, Dave, you’re right about the 4000 mids clogging downtown and taking up my precious parking spots on King George.

  24. Well Dave, if you truly were a dedicated Navy football fan you’d know that the class of 1958 section on the gold side upper deck is a prime location for hardcore fans. My season tickets were there back in the glory days of living close enough to have season tickets, and I’d gladly return to sit with them again. They have a bullhorn! Getting on the internet to rattle off uninformed opinions about how we should get the ball to the slots more does not make one a better fan to sit with at a game.

    Annapolis residents probably don’t like the parade. But the people watching the game do. If PR isn’t why the Brigade goes to football games, then why do they?And one does not need to be in a superfan group to go to an away game.

  25. I agree there is a PR aspect to having the entire Brigade attend the games, but that is not the only reason and it is sure not the reason USNA officially states. But really, what is this debate about? It’s about me having the pulse of the Brigade and you being completely out of touch with this generation of midshipmen.

    Plebes I met this summer in Rashawn King’s squad were in awe of Reggie Campbell. Could you have picked Ben Fay out of a lineup when you were a plebe? You have no idea how attached the Brigade is to the football team. That makes mids want to do as much as possible to support them. It’s a shame that crusty old tradionalists don’t seem to get that. The B&G section and Team Awesome (whose name is meant to be sarcastic humor) represent a new era of crazy Navy fans. Their energy should be embraced it every legitimate form.

    I love PR and am a firm believer in it, but I love Navy football more. I’m sorry to hear you don’t.

  26. I am enjoying this exchange.

  27. Can we get Phat and Deli to discuss this on the pre-game show this weekend? I can’t just keep hitting refresh on this website to see the sparring.

  28. Is there an official reason for having the Brigade attend football games? Find out and report back.

    I wasn’t aware that the ability to cheer for Navy football left one’s body when a uniform is put on instead of face paint and chemistry goggles. Did you not cheer for Navy when you were a mid, Dave? I seem to recall that you did. Did you have no energy? Are you saying that you held back because because you didn’t get to wear wacky clothes to get noticed by TV cameras? I certainly hope not.

    No, I could not identify Ben Fay when I was a plebe. Of course, Ben Fay wasn’t a multi-year starter on national TV every week and bowl game MVP by the time I started plebe summer, either. If Jim Kubiak or Jason Van Matre had walked by, though, I could’ve pointed them out pretty easily.

    This is not about being a traditionalist. This is about perspective; something you lack. Like the surgeon who faces a conflict of interest in operating on his own child, you cannot approach the issue rationally. Your eagerness to get in touch with this generation of midshipmen, while seemingly admirable in some minute ways, has ultimately left you unable to grasp the bigger picture. That picture being the good of the school, and by extension, the country. Why do you hate America, Dave?

  29. RE: Mandatory attendance at football games – in my day it was a privlege and to miss a game because of duty or any other reason was a major disappointmen. I would be surprised if that were not still the norm. (Granted, there are always individual exceptions.)

    Several years ago I heard an astute TV announcer (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while) comment that the Army- Navy game was the only one in the country attended by the entire student body of both schools. I’ve repeated that statement to some of my Alabama and Auburn friends who can’t begin to imagine something like that.

    Speaking of astute TV announcers, did CBS College Sports mention our 1200th game milestone last Saturday? If so, I missed it.

  30. You see the same thing at the bball games.

    150 punts – I agree about the AT/FP Task Force midshipman. His presence and his baton are really not giving me a great deal of comfort. Mostly he is just in the way, practicing a glinty stare.

  31. I think it is embarrassing to have this seperate cheering section of Mids, especially, out of uniform. Makes the rest of the Brigade look, well, bad.

    However, I would encourage mids to wear spirit gear to bball games. I know there shouldn’t be a difference, but, there is.

  32. Back when I was a mid (not very long ago), there was an unofficial group called “The Pit.” It consisted mostly of wrestlers and Lax players. They loved cheering for the football team, and they, like only wrestlers can do, would basically start brawling anytime Navy scored. (They also weren’t looking for any TV time or anything like that, if anything they wanted to avoid it for fearing of getting in trouble). The administrations response back then was to shut down this group. One of their reasons for wanting to break up this group was that the uniforms tended to be screwed up in the mayhem. So now we have an official group to lead the cheering (isn’t that was cheerleaders are for?), which I suppose the academy leadership prefers over the choas and unpredictablity that comes with a random and uncontrolled group of midshipmen.

  33. Go Go Gorilla, Mr. Pep, spirit related WUBA (basically a midstore t-shirt from when there was not variety and SDB pants), and a goat. None have anything to do with Navy or football other than one or more mids got an idea in their restrictive environment of what they thought would be fun, and developed a following. Mids, as a group, generally appear pretty awkward when they stretch their leash. For the time being, it seems to be fun for them. Not as embarassing as ASO, or any type of scandal.

    Last year Hopkins was mandatory fun. There was a group that had been attending every lax game and were off the chart rowdy and loud. For Hopkins, since it was mandatory, if you didn’t want to march over, you could buy a ten dollar yellow t-shirt and be part of the bright out (in that small section of the stadium). The regulars naturally were there. Others bought their way in to the spirited group. I see this more of an extension of that than an immitation of Air Farce.

    Does it seem dumb? Maybe from the outside. Even after graduation you are willing to try the dumb if it motivates the troops (beard growing contests). In the end, what you want is a motivated brigade. Plebes you can make cheer. For the rest, you use what is available to you.

    There are worse things. Eventually the pendulum will swing back, and people will lament. This too will pass.

  34. The best way to solve this problem is to have Navy suck for about 3 years straight then put together a turnaround. The whole brigade will at first be shocked (circa ’03 season) then will ecstatically cheer together thus eliminating the divide between the happy section and the bored section. Having a winning season after having 3 years of crappiness was the best medicine to make sure the brigade cheered together. As long as the mids are NOT acting like pompous Delaware fans (worse than Maryland and that is really saying something), then I don’t care how they express their joy. If I didn’t care about getting a divorce, I’d do the same thing as them.

  35. The debate between Mike and Dave reminds me of the “old days” on GoMids. I do enjoy a witty repost now and then, I must say!!

  36. I enjoyed the 12th Mid thing as well and I hope to see it return. What is even better is that Staubach supported it (since it was his retired number).
    So, for those of you who have been to the Army-Navy Game, how “interesting” to the civilian fans get? This year will be my first one.

  37. I enjoyed the 12th Mid thing as well and I hope to see it return. What is even better is that Staubach supported it (since it was his retired number).
    So, for those of you who have been to the Army-Navy Game, how “interesting” do the civilian fans get? This year will be my first one.

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