Anyone who thinks the government shutdown would not affect sports in any way is dead wrong.
The Defense Department announced on Tuesday that sports competition at service academies will be put on hold while the shutdown is in effect.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Army Colonel Steve Warren, speaking on behalf of the Pentagon, said that a legal team was being convened to determine if funds for the academies' sports programs were appropriated by Congress, and thus, covered by the government shutdown.
As a result, two football games involving the service academies in NCAA Division I are now in jeopardy.
Navy is scheduled to play Air Force on Saturday, while Army is set to travel to Boston College on the same night.
The U.S. Naval Academy issued a statement, saying that a decision on their game against Air Force will be announced on Thursday. Air Force, on the other hand, announced that road games, including the one against Navy in Annapolis, are being cancelled, but all efforts are being made to reschedule the game.
The U.S. Military Academy said that sports are at risk, but the repercussions are being reviewed by the Department of the Army. The game against Boston College is particularly at risk of cancellation as it will be played on the road.
Boston College, a private, Catholic institution, is in "constant communication" with Army, but if the game is indeed cancelled, they are exploring their options.
While there are precedents for playing during government shutdowns, it must be remembered that all three games, played in 1995, were at home.
The Air Force and Navy have played each other every year since 1972. Navy sports programs are funded by ticket sales and TV earnings and are not affected by whatever goes on in Washington D.C. In contrast, Air Force and Army athletics are partially funded by Congress appropriations and are thus covered by the government shutdown.
Private donors have reportedly come forward to shoulder the travel costs of affected teams, but it is a very sensitive political issue: It is not yet clear if funds not appropriated by Congress may be used to support sports teams at service academies which are federal by nature.
The shutdown has already claimed its first sporting victim: a soccer game, featuring the Navy and Howard University was called off on Tuesday.
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