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.