Via Greg Pollowitz, the athletic associations for both schools are privately funded. To repeat: The game doesn’t depend on government funding. But officials at both schools answer to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon’s federal funds won’t start flowing again until the shutdown is over. The first, and really only, rule of shutdown theater is that the public must suffer, whether that means threatening to arrest a 95-year-old who fought at Omaha Beach or denying Navy and Air Force fans the simple pleasure of a football game. The public must suffer, because the more the public suffers, the more pressure there’ll be on Congress to turn the lights back on.

And so it’s come to this.

The potential revenue loss to the Naval Academy Athletic Association would likely exceed $4 million, he said. That money comes from ticket sales, sponsorship, parking and concession revenue. The largest revenue stream is the payout NAAA receives from CBS Sports Television…

The Naval Academy Athletic Association is a private organization not funded by the government. [Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet] Gladchuk said the Air Force-Navy game could be held without any “appropriated funding.” Air Force recently created a similar athletic association that operates using private funds, donations and revenue from intercollegiate contests.

“We could run our entire athletics program and conduct events as we always do without any government funds,” Gladchuk said. “In talking to the Air Force athletic director, their football team could execute the trip without government funding.”

Asked why the Department of Defense was suspending intercollegiate athletic contests if government funds are not required, Gladchuk said he was told it was about “optics.”

“It’s a perception thing. Apparently it doesn’t resonate with all the other government agencies that have been shut down,” Gladchuk said.

Who doesn’t it “resonate” with? Who’s going to wet their pants over the fact that the next generation of military officers got to enjoy a game they had looked forward to that didn’t cost the government anything? Only the Democrats in the White House and on the Hill, because it marginally weakens their case that the shutdown is a tragedy for our times. That’s the “optics” here, even though Gladchuk, for obvious reasons, is reluctant to get too specific.

But wait. This isn’t the only venture that costs the feds nothing to operate which they’ve decided must close in solidarity with our vast federal bureaucracy:

The National Park Service has ordered the closure of a Virginia park that sits on federal land, even though the government provides no resources for its maintenance or operation…

According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday evening to remove staff and volunteers from the property…

“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm,” [Managing Director Anna] Eberly explained.

Previous federal funding battles have threatened the farm’s operations. A group of citizens in 1980 formed the Friends of Turkey Run Farm, established a $500,000 endowment for the farm, and negotiated a 30-year no-fee lease.

They didn’t need to close during previous shutdowns but, oddly enough, they’re being shuttered for this one. Said Eberly to the Free Beacon, “You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.” Right, that’s the punchline to all of this — just like the Park Police erecting barriers around the WWII Memorial and the cancellation of the Navy/Air Force game that would have generated revenue for both schools’ athletic programs, shutdown theater is deliberately extending the economic hit from the shutdown. Not because there’s a critical policy issue at stake but because there’s an extra political point or two to be scored if you’re exacting enough in your pettiness. If you’re into visiting historic farms in federal parks and don’t like coming face to face with a big “CLOSED” sign, hey — that’s what you get for electing Republicans. That might be worth one or two extra votes nationally for Democrats, no?