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.