Want academy football this weekend? Watch the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard hosts Western New England on Saturday (photo via Coast Guard Academy athletics website)

The Coast Guard Academy hosts Western New England on Saturday (photo via Coast Guard Academy athletics website)

As many fans know by now, this weekend’s service academy football games are questionable.

Or doubtful.

Or “50/50.”

Or definitely happening, per an ESPN reporter’s Twitter account.

Or definitely happening, but then maybe not happening, per the Naval Academy’s Twitter account.

Or probably happening after some fancy financial magic and a few extra legal bills, but awaiting final sign-off from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, per another ESPN report.

Or could involve Air Force, of all teams, flying commercial as a charity case. (One of few positives to social media bursts in this situation — United Airlines announced this particular PR move via Twitter, and the first reply was from an angry customer.)

While big-time academy football plays its part in the budget theatrics, the Coast Guard Bears are quietly preparing to host Western New England on Saturday in New London, Conn. The New England Football Conference rivals will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern; a video stream “possibly” will be available on the academy’s athletics website, according to the official Coast Guard game preview.

Bill Mullins, media relations assistant, said his office had received no word from any higher budget authority asking the school to cancel any athletic contests. Jason Southard, who runs the media relations office, was one of many federal employees who spent Wednesday at home, Mullins said.

“We think we can do it with the staff we have,” service spokesman Lt. Paul Rhynard said when asked about hosting athletic contests during the shutdown. “It’s not going to be without its challenges.”

The Coast Guard falls under the Homeland Security Department, so a Defense Department-wide ban on academy athletics during the shutdown doesn’t apply to the Bears. However, DHS and DoD pull from the same bank — the one with the “closed for lunch” sign on the door for almost two days now, and no return time set on that little clock underneath. Why one department is canceling games while another allows them to go on isn’t immediately clear.

The Merchant Marine Academy isn’t as fortunate: Its athletics programs are shut down until the shutdown ends, according to the school’s official athletics website. Calls to the top athletic official and to the school’s external affairs department resulted in similar voicemail recordings, saying the offices were closed “due to a lapse in funding.”

The school’s football team is scheduled to visit Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday. For RPI’s homecoming.


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