There are many great aspects to sports and sporting events in the United States of America, but they pale in comparison to the Army/Navy Football Game. This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend my second Army/Navy Football game. I first attended this game in 2007 with my dad. This year, thanks to close friend, Jesse Sabatini this tradition was passed on to my son as Jesse and me took him to experience this tradition that is now billed, “America’s Game.”
Being a part of the Army/Navy Football game is something special. While CBS attempts to capture the special nature of this event to the viewer at home, there is a different feeling of energy at the stadium for this event. This level of energy is only true at this event, regardless of the number of people in attendance. Attending an Army/Navy game with a little over 71,000 people has more energy than your typical college football game.
There were 4 Leadership Lessons that struck me while reflecting on this game.
Leadership Lesson #1: Love and Respect Your Opponent
The Latin Root of the word “compete” is com petire, which means, “to seek together.” The service academies compete WITH each other to perform at the highest level. It is true on the football field and it is true off the football field. The entire week leading up to the Army/Navy Football game is made up of competitions with Army/Navy in the Patriot Games. (Link to a Baltimore Sun Article/Pictures of the Patriot Games.)
This was true throughout the stadium, as Army/Navy fans sat with each other, communicated with each other, loved each other and respected each other.
Leadership Lesson #2: Discipline is King.
In a day and age when our attention can be drawn away and focused on the newest fad, good ole’ DISCIPLINE wins. Army and Navy combined to commit three penalties (three for Navy and zero for Army) the entire game. These service academies understand the need for discipline as the King to achievement. In a game that included 90 rushing plays combined there were exactly zero holding penalties, this is astounding and a testament to discipline.
This discipline can be transferred into our lives as the key to accomplishment; disciplined habits and routines place us on a path to achieve. Discipline yourself, so others do not need to.
Leadership Lesson #3: Know Your Strengths and Push the Boundaries
The service academies understand their strengths lie within their ability to execute in a disciplined fashion. This is the exact reason they run some form of the Triple Option Offense. The Triple Option is based off of disciplined execution and as a fan in attendance; many times it was difficult to understand who had the football. While the Triple Option offense and discipline is their strength, they push the boundaries of their strengths. When Army was behind for the first time in the game, their first offensive play was a lengthy pass play. Army was pushing their strengths because they were playing to win, and in order to win, we must push our boundaries.
Leadership Lesson #4: Celebrate Success
The celebration that ensued on the field following Army’s victory on Saturday was something to behold in person because it was NOT just the cadets of West Point that were celebrating it was EVERYONE, from top military brass, to enlisted soldiers, to retired officers and soldiers. It was not a surprise to see the cadets storm the field, but Army fans from the entire stadium celebrated the victory on the field.
This celebration was 15 years in the making; imagine waiting 15 years to accomplish a goal, you should celebrate the success. Great Competitors celebrate their success.
Success is celebrated because we love and respect our opponents; we have been disciplined and worked like crazy utilizing our strengths, and pushing our boundaries.
Enjoy the week and keep COMPETING.