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Q&A: No government, no football?!

  • Football programs at military service academies could be affected by the government shutdown
  • The decisions will come down Thursday on whether the teams will continue to play or not
Q&A: No government, no football?!

UPDATE: Shutdown won't stop military football games

With government shutdowns come all sorts of unexpected little holes in your day: Planning to get married in a state park? Not anymore! Like to unwind with some panda cam viewing? Hope you enjoy a screen full of nothing. Vacationing in D.C.? LOL. Even the Mars Rover is not immune to the shutdown, and is currently on Mars, still roving, but unable to communicate with scores of its earthly fans.

All of that is pretty unfortunate, but no football? Now things are getting serious.

Due to the shutdown, all intercollegiate sports competitions at service academies could be suspended, which could mean no football for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard teams. According to Scott Strasemeier, the senior associate athletic director for the Naval Academy, the decision to either suspend or continue play will come down around noon on Thursday, assuming the shutdown persists. We asked him a few questions about what this could mean for the team.

HLN: What have you all been told could happen at noon Thursday?
Scott Strasemeier: Well, it's either going to be resolved by then, or it's not.

HLN: What have the players or coaches been told to do? Is it business as usual until then?
SS: Yes it is. Until a decision has been made, we're practicing like we're playing.

HLN: If competition is suspended, what would that mean for upcoming games?
SS: Honestly, I don't know. It is too early to say. We're going day by day.

Clearly, it is too early to tell how the shutdown will affect future games, but a big question remains: Why, during a shutdown, are service academy sports teams in danger of being suspended?

If you think the answer is easy, take a deep breath. Cmdr. Bill Urban, defense press officer, tried to lay out the basics.

HLN: Why are athletic teams affected during a government shutdown if the people running them aren't always on the government's payroll?
Bill Urban: It's a complicated problem. I will say officially it's 'under review' and no decisions have been made at this time. Each one of the service academies has some type of athletics alumni association that can help provide non-appropriated [Ed. note: non-budgeted] funds. And there's a spectrum on this, with [schools like] the Naval Academy being the best off, and, say, the Air Force less so. So the plan was for the Air Force to pick up what funds they had left for their travel through appropriated funds. We absolutely can't use appropriated funds during a government shutdown because we don't have them.

HLN: Does that mean sports activities could go on despite the shutdown?
BU: Officially, no decision has been reached. There are apparently a number of courses that can provide the funds as a "gift." So there has to be a legal review to determine whether or not that could go through as a gift, legally. The bottom line is it has to clear that hurdle first. If it's legally not possible, then that's the decision itself.

HLN: What kind of costs are we looking at?
BU: There are [a lot of] costs. The Naval Academy, for example, would have costs putting on a game at home. But they can't play themselves. So there's the cost of putting 100 people on a plane and in hotel rooms.

So will the Black Knights, Midshipmen and their service brethren see the gridiron anytime soon? That, like so many things during this shutdown, remains to be seen.

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Shutdown won't stop military football games
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