This is why players in the Army-Navy Game learn to sing their rival's alma mater

No matter what the outcome of the annual Army-Navy Game, the day always ends the same way. The winning team turns to face the stands with the fans of the defeated team and sing the “enemy” alma mater – a tradition known as “Honoring the Fallen.”

Army Navy game

The 2016 Army Team singing “Navy Blue and Gold” to Midshipmen Fans.

That’s not happening at the end of the Red River Shootout, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, or even the Holy War. No way. But it happens at the end of the Army-Navy Game.

The beginning of the game features a glee club made up of both Cadets and Midshipmen singing the national anthem, a reminder that in the end, all the young officers-to-be are playing for the United States. That team spirit show through when it’s time to Honor the Fallen.

“Honoring the Fallen” actually features both teams. First they sing to the defeated fans, then to the victorious fans. This would never happen anywhere else in college football. Not that other teams aren’t good sports or that they’re sore losers. The Army-Navy tradition is about more than the rivalry, it’s about a mutual respect that goes beyond their ability to play football.

Army and Navy are playing for the same team. Sooner or later, they may meet each other on a different field: the battlefield. Where else in college football does a team of 20-somethings need to prepare for that kind of meeting?

Few traditions in life are as touching as two intense rivals coming together in a show of esprit de corps like Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen do every yer.

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That doesn’t mean they all want to sing their alma mater first. In an effort to break Navy’s winning streak, the 2011 Army team sewed “Sing Second” in the inside of their uniforms. Singing second means the Army wins the game.

Maybe Wolverines fans should learn Carmen Ohio and Buckeyes fans should learn The Yellow and Blue.

But I’m not counting on it.