11 photos of hilarious traditions of the historic Army-Navy game

Rob Carr/GettyBrendan Dudeck #81 of the Navy Midshipmen carries the American flag on the field before the start of their game against the Army Black Knights at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Army cadets and Navy midshipmen are faced off for the 119th Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this weekend.
  • “America’s game” is one of the most intense rivalries in college sports, and is steeped in tradition.
  • Some of these traditions are on full display in the annual game, and include a “prisoner exchange” as well as hilarious taunts from midshipmen and cadets.

Since 1850, midshipmen from the Naval Academy and West Point cadets have faced off on the gridiron in the annual Army-Navy football game.

In the past 118 years, the rivalry that has developed between the two service academies has evolved into an institution of itself, rich with traditions held sacred by cadets and midshipmen as well as soldiers and sailors across the globe.

Read through to find out who the academies’ “prisoners” are, how mids and cadets taunt each other throughout the game and why – for several years – midshipmen carried brooms with them in the stadium.

Midshipmen always find a way to incorporate the sitting president into the game.

In 2005, they carried a life-sized cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush with them into the stadium.

Cadets and midshipmen usually bring signs with them to the game, which they use to taunt their rivals.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty ImagesArmy cadets taunt their midshipmen counterparts at the 2016 Army-Navy game.

In 2016, cadets used a catchphrase of then president-elect Trump, who was in attendance, to taunt midshipmen.

Trump will attend Saturday’s game for the first time as sitting president, and will officiate the coin toss, according to the Associated Press.

Navy had the perfect response to Army’s taunt.

The taunts are a much-anticipated tradition for cadets and midshipmen.

Elsa/Getty ImagesCadets taunt midshipmen by making fun of children’s games in 2015.

The cadets and midshipmen have to march on to the field before the game, so they have to find ways to hide any signs they may be carrying.

They have to make them small enough to carry, make them out of material they can roll up or fold, or tape them together when they get to the stands.

The George W. Bush cutout? Sources say he had a place in formation and marched on the field with the midshipmen.

The brooms are a tradition of their own, but only for classes who can say they have seen four victories over their rivals.

Midshipmen held a 14-year winning streak against Army, so classes graduating in 2006 through 2016 can claim they beat Army all four years they attended.

Maybe someday Army can say they have had a decade-long streak. Until then, they will have to get creative with their taunts

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesArmy cadets taunt midshipmen by making fun of Navy’s beloved mascot Bill

In yet another tradition, soldiers and sailors around the globe create “spirit spot” videos supporting their team.

Petty Officer 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez/US Navy/Littoral Combat Ship Squadron OneLittoral combat ship squadron sailors made a ‘spirit spot’ video ahead of the 2018 Army-Navy football game to show their support for the Navy midshipmen

Sailors from Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One recommend “Go Navy, Beat Army” spray to make Army fans go away.

Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division fired a salute for Army cadets before the 119th Army-Navy game on December 8, 2018.

Capt. Ed Robles/US Army/10th Mountain DivisionSoldiers from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division salute the Army cadets ahead of the 119th Army-Navy game.

The anticipated “prisoner exchange.”

Every year, juniors at the academies have the opportunity to spend a semester embedded with their rivals.

The midshipmen and cadets reunite with their own at the Army-Navy game, when the schools conduct a “prisoner exchange.”

“Prisoners” are marched to the center of the field behind their “captors” before sprinting to re-join their classmates.

The prisoners traditionally use tape or signs in yet another taunt to their rivals.

Elsa/Getty ImagesNavy ‘prisoners’ head to the center of the field, led by Army cadets, for the ceremonial exchange in 2015.

While on exchange, midshipmen and cadets are not actually treated like prisoners, though they do face some teasing.

Cadets call their midshipmen counterparts “squids” or “middies,” which midshipmen hate.

Midshipmen refer to cadets as “whoops,” a reference to the monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. It’s said that the costumes worn by the wicked witch’s flying stooges were designed after the uniforms worn by cadets at West Point.

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