Give Chris Russo credit for guts. He’s never afraid to lead with his shallow side.
Russo gave Thursday’s rush hour audience a good sense of what his sense of sports is. After Mike Francesa told him that he should make it a point to attend at least one Army-Navy game – just for the feel of it as a fabulous event – Russo grunted, “Eh, that kind of game doesn’t do anything for me.”
Then what kind of game does do something for Russo. No. 3-ranked Ten Percent Grad Rate State vs. No. 10 Two Prior Arrests U.? If you can’t find appeal in the Army-Navy game, you have no genuine sense of what constitutes genuine sport.
If you’re a little in the dark about what constitutes “genuine sport”, the following factoids from Joe Lapointe in yesterday’s New York Times might be of some assistance.
They are building a sports fortress on the high ground of the Army campus along the Hudson River, much of it for football. Two new buildings – large, serious-looking structures – have risen next to the old stadium like big blockers in a pass pocket.
Next door, next month, they will break ground on a $15 million indoor practice facility to go with the new weight-training center, the new locker room, the new offices for the coaches and the new auditorium for the athletes – all financed through private donations.
Why the aggressive upgrade? Head Coach Bobby Ross and many influential people involved with the academy say a good Army football team is important for the self-image and morale of the military in wartime.
One of those people is Tom Dyer, the chairman of the powerful Association of Graduates. Dyer’s group has raised more than $300 million in the last decade, about half of it for sports, he said.
“What we’re all about up there is winning,” Dyer said. “It’s good for West Point, it’s good for the Army and, frankly, it’s good for the nation. When they go into the Army and enter combat, the whole purpose is to win.”
Bob McClure, a member of the board of trustees for the Association of Graduates, said: “We were on the bottom five percentile in facilities and what we paid the coaching staff. We had been basically outstripped. College athletics has really become a business, major-league, big-time. The taxpayer does not pay for a top 50 college program.” Ross’s salary, more than $600,000, is underwritten in part by the alumni group.
It’s comforting to know that while American solidiers were struggling to pay for their own body armor, other concerned citizens, mindful of the Army football team’s impact on morale, were raising millions of dollars and paying Bobby Ross’ salary.
I’m hardly an expert on military matters — I mean, when someone compares armed combat to a football game, I tend to think they oughta be neutered — but I strongly suspect that not coming home in a body bag does wonders for morale, too.
I am probably writing these words for the first and last time : I’m with Russo on this one. Fuck the Army-Navy game.