Here’s What Navy Football’s Changed Motto Means

In the lead-up to their 2019 season, the US Naval Academy’s football team decided to change their season’s motto from “load the clip” to “win the day.” This was in response to employees at The Capital Gazette (a newspaper in Annapolis, MD) calling into question a lack of sensitivity surrounding last year’s deadly shooting in its newsroom. The horrific incident took place in June of 2018 and left five people dead. For the past several years, the team’s captains have come up with a different motto to use for the season. According to a Navy spokeswoman, the phrase “load the clip” was intended to “be a metaphor for daily game day preparation.”

When put into context of current American society, this decision becomes very interesting to dissect. It speaks to a number of truths about our current culture as well as the modern military in this country. Several points become apparent when considering what these events mean. Here are a few examples of those points.

1. Those who think that the military is not a politically correct institution are wrong.

When one thinks about political correctness in the United States, a number of groups or institutions may come to mind. Examples can include politicians, the mainstream media or colleges. But some might think that the armed forces should be omitted from this collection of PC examples. Perhaps that’s because they tend to lean to the right politically or because they rely heavily on the use of guns and other weapons. But make no mistake about it, the military can often match the political correctness of any other established fixture of American life.

Look no further than the statement made by Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck. In response to this controversy, Buck said:

“The bottom line is, we missed the mark here. The initial internal football team motto selected, ‘Load the Clip,’ was inappropriate and insensitive to the community we call home, and for that, I take responsibility for, and apologize to not only the Capital Gazette, but the entire Annapolis community.”

A more politically correct response would be difficult to imagine. To call the motto “Load the Clip” inappropriate and insensitive while also apologizing shows that even the military is not immune from going into damage control to appease anyone who may find something insensitive.

2. Loading a clip is the only way that a Navy officer would be able to win at their most important job.

The reason for the “Load the Clip” slogan being used by the Navy’s football team is the obvious connotation between sports and the field of battle. Without a loaded clip, Navy personnel would be significantly unprepared to enter combat and “Win the Day” (in keeping with their new slogan). But anyone with a reasonable understanding of the differences between athletic competitions and war should be able to tell that loading a physical clip (or magazine) with actual bullets is not how football games are won. So despite the fact that we as Americans root for our military to “win” on the battlefield, the means to which they win (like loading clips) are a bridge too far when put into a metaphorical context for a team that represents a branch of that same military.

3. Despite the loading of clips, the US Military rarely wins wars anymore.

Actually winning a war has become pretty rare for the American armed forced these days. It’s not for lack of preparation since their clips (and other weapons) have no problem being loaded. It’s also not for a lack of technological advancement, deadliness or money spent since all of these things have made our military the greatest in the world. The lack of winning is a phenomenon that arises from the politicians who send troops to war not having adequate goals for those troops to achieve in order to actually win. This is why the military often spends year after year (and sometimes decade after decade) occupying various nations around the world with seemingly no end in sight. Winning isn’t possible if you can’t know when you’ve won. So actually, “Load the Clip” is more appropriate than “Win the Day” to today’s Navy since preparing weapons for use has become much more common than winning wars.

Is Lying About Golf Worse Than War?

Former sports columnist Rick Reilly is out with a new book. The book’s is titled “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.” It explores Donald Trump’s behavior on the golf course as well as his claims about his golfing skill. As one could probably guess from the book’s title, it does not paint the president in a very flattering light.

Given Reilly’s history, it isn’t surprising that he has a strong dislike for Trump. But a recent exchange with sportswriter Bryan Curtis is especially curious. Curtis describes Reilly’s experience on the night of the 2016 election as a “familiar nightmare.” At a bar in Charleston, SC, Reilly and a former colleague of his had expected Hillary Clinton to win (as so many did). He then describes himself as feeling “light-headed and nauseous” as the inevitability of Trump’s victory sets in.

The curious part of this account comes in how vehemently opposed Reilly once was of the Iraq War. In a 2005 article he titled “The Hero and the Unknown Soldier,” he recounts the death of former NFL player turned US Army Ranger Pat Tillman as well as a lesser known serviceman named Todd Bates who was also killed in action. Reilly closes the column saying:

“Be proud that sports produce men like this. But I, for one, am furious that these wars keep taking them.”

The inconsistency on the part of Reilly comes in his dread and sickness as a result of Trump beating Clinton. Trump rose victoriously through the Republican primary calling the Iraq War “a disaster.” His beating of more hawkish opponents showed that Republican voters were willing to accept that war as being a mistake. You would think someone who was as against that war as Reilly would at least see some virtue in the party that lead that invasion nominating someone who was so strongly opposed to it.

In addition, why was Reilly so saddened upon the defeat of Hillary Clinton given her past support for the war in Iraq and several other overseas military actions? After all, if he were consistently against operations OEF and OIF, then shouldn’t he oppose all politicians who voted for them? If this were the case, Reilly’s nightmare should have begun when the Democrats chose to make Clinton their candidate rather than when she lost the general election. Having to choose between Clinton and Trump could have been his nightmare (it was for many), but there should have been no love lost for the former first lady for anyone claiming to favor peace.

Certainly someone’s support or opposition for a candidate can depend on many factors outside of foreign policy. But Reilly so emphatically objected to George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq that it’s hard to see how he could just disregard one politician’s war-mongering past and lambaste a president who proved that you could object to that war and still find favor within the Republican Party. The conclusion that makes the most sense is that Reilly turns a blind eye when it comes to war to those he happens to agree with politically. Clinton voted in the affirmative for a war that Reilly claims he hated. But since he has more in common with her politically, that fact is swept under the rug. Conversely, Trump becomes the embodiment of all evil despite his harsh criticism of the same war. Even though Reilly was never a political writer, it would be nice to see some intellectual consistency in his politics.