MarketInsight | In the Arena
Football rivalries run deep. Many of those go back decades. The annual Florida-Georgia game is so well attended by exuberant fans that it has been dubbed the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.” Some football rivalries divide families almost as deeply as the Civil War. It has been said that the annual Auburn-Alabama game, a tough fought rivalry known as the “Iron Bowl,” has caused more divorces than any other sporting event in history.
One of the oldest rivalries in football, and all of sport, is the Army-Navy football game, first played in 1890. This year’s game was the 120th iteration. The game has a long, rich history. Teddy Roosevelt attended the game in 1901 in Philadelphia. Army won that game 11– 5. In 1926, the game was held in Chicago and the field it was played on was officially renamed “Soldier Field” during the game. That game ended in a 21 – 21 tie, with undefeated Navy being acclaimed National Champion. In 1963, the game was almost cancelled due to President Kennedy’s assassination. Jackie Kennedy insisted the game be played, saying her husband would have wanted it that way. The game was postponed to Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day. Roger Staubach led Navy to victory and then on to a national championship meeting with Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
The two greatest games in the rivalry took place during World War II, in 1944 and 1945. Both games were dubbed in turn as the “Game of the Century.” It is odd to think of the service academies being opened during that great War, but they were. President Franklin Roosevelt expanded the number of both students at the Academies in the years leading up to World War II. In 1944 and 1945, Army and Navy both entered the games undefeated. Both of those games were perceived at the time as battles for a national championship.
Navy was led by two players who had transferred from Alabama after that school dropped football in 1943. Army, armed with two future Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, known as “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside,” won both games. General Douglas MacArthur, the only non-president to be given a state funeral, was so excited after the 1944 win that he telegraphed that he had “stopped the war to celebrate your magnificent success.”
Another even older rivalry exists between Harvard and Yale. That game has been played since 1875. Teddy Roosevelt attended the second game as a student. This year’s contest was interrupted by a climate change protest. Students and recent alumni staged a sit-in on the 50-yard line chanting the derisive “OK, Boomer!” and demanding that both schools divest their endowments out of fossil-fuel companies. It struck me because it was not the first time that I have seen protests demanding divestiture. Beginning in the ‘60s, students led protests against apartheid, demanding universities divest their holdings in South Africa.
Other movements over the years sought divestment from tobacco companies and other perceived social issues. One thing that I have learned in almost 40 years as a professional investor is to avoid companies that are under political or cultural pressure.
Scott A. Grant is a local historian and author. During the day he manages investment portfolios for discerning investors. He welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
Scott A. Grant is a local author, historian, columnist, and speaker. He is president of Standfast Asset Management in Ponte Vedra Beach. He welcomes your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Grant’s book, “The Merchant of Death is Dead: True Stories of the Progress of Humanity,” in which he shares some of his favorite columns, is now available: https://tinyurl.com/tn7tj65. Over the last 14 years, Grant has been a regular columnist for two newspapers and has perfected several history presentations. After two years of touring the local northeast Florida civic clubs, museums, and schools, he was asked to produce a book. This is his first publication. He is delighted to share his knowledge of history and investments.