The sold out Air Force-Navy football game scheduled for Saturday in Annapolis, Md. will be canceled unless Congress can come to an agreement that ends the government shutdown by noon Thursday, a Naval Academy official said.
The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it had canceled all service academy intercollegiate athletic competitions because of the government shutdown that started midnight Monday after lawmakers couldn't settle on a budget or continuing resolution for fiscal year 2014.
Government travel has been frozen in most cases for military members as part of the shutdown. This would include the service academies, thus teams like the Air Force football team would be not allowed to travel to Annapolis for their game against Navy, officials explained.
The deadline for a decision on whether to play the game was set for Thursday at noon because the Air Force Academy team would need time to travel to Annapolis for the game, said Scott Strasemeier, the Naval Academy's senior associate athletic director for sports information.
Academy officials have announced the game has been sold out and is scheduled to be nationally broadcast on CBS. Both the academies and the city of Annapolis stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue should the game be canceled because of losses in ticket sales, sponsorships, and tourism associated with fans traveling to the game.
The Air Force-Navy football game is probably the most high profile game that could be canceled, but many other athletic events to include the Army-Boston College football game, also scheduled for Saturday, could be canceled. The Naval Academy's soccer game against Howard University scheduled for Tuesday night has already been canceled.
Strasemeier said the academy football teams will continue to practice in hopes that lawmakers will reach an agreement and the games will still be played.
If the game is canceled, it could be rescheduled on Dec. 7, Strasemeier said. This is the weekend before the Army-Navy football game. However, the week of Dec. 7 is also the week of final exams with some classes having exams scheduled on Dec. 7.
Strasemeier said that CBS officials are aware of the situation and are standing by in hopes the game will still be played.
The Air Force-Navy football game has often determined the winner of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy the past 16 years. The Naval Academy and Air Force Academy have split the trophy given to the top service academy football team over that time period.
The Naval Academy won the trophy back from the Air Force Academy last year with a 28-21 overtime victory. The Air Force had owned the trophy the two previous years.