Navy coach: "This is just a football game"

In college football, few if any rivalries go back farther than Army-Navy. For decades, the two service academies played at the top of the NCAA’s football division, and their battles have been legendary. As with any rivals, victory is sweeter and the impulse to take it out of proportion that much greater, especially today, where college sports seems to have lost their traditional mission of building character and rounding out student athletes in favor of big business, particularly in football and basketball, where they act like a minor league to the NFL and NBA.

That makes this interview with Navy’s coach Ken Niumatalolo that much more special. It picks up at about the one-minute mark, where Niumatalolo chokes up as he praises both teams — and reminds viewers what kind of battles these young men of Army and Navy will be fighting for our country in the future:

“These kids will be in … [stops] These kids are going to protect us, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and — both of these teams. I have great, great respect for these men, and this is just a football game. I mean, that’s all it is, but there’s a bigger picture, and I couldn’t be prouder of our young men.”

Obviously, college sports hasn’t entirely stopped being about building character. Maybe some other coaches and schools could take a lesson from Coach Niumatalolo. (hat tip: Scott M)