Trump expected to attend Army-Navy game at West Point

By DES BIELER | The Washington Post | Published: December 8, 2020

President Donald Trump plans to attend this year's Army-Navy football game, set for Saturday at Army's campus in West Point, N.Y., according to reports. He has attended the game for the past two years and in 2016, after he was elected but before he took office.

The U.S. Naval Academy's athletic director, Chet Gladchuk, confirmed Trump's plans during a meeting Monday with the academy's Board of Visitors. The White House has not provided its own confirmation.

"The president's going to make it," Gladchuk said, according to the Capital Gazette. "I just found out a few moments ago he'll be at the game."

The annual rivalry game is normally held at a neutral site, most recently Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, where it had been scheduled again this year. However, it was moved in October to Army's Michie Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic. Restrictions on crowd sizes in Philadelphia would not have allowed for a number of cadets and midshipmen to attend.

"Every effort was made to create a safe and acceptable environment for the Brigade, the Corps and our public while meeting city and state requirements," Gladchuk said in a statement at the time. "However, medical conditions and protocols dictate the environment in which we live. Therefore, on to the safe haven of West Point on Dec. 12 and let it ring true that even in the most challenging of times, the spirit and intent of the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets still prevails."

Although the game has been played at a neutral site since 1944, each academy serves as the host every other year, and this year it is Army's turn, hence the relocation of the contest to West Point. However, the field, stands and some other features of the event will have aspects of neutrality, said Gladchuk, according to the Capital Gazette.

Tradition for sitting presidents attending the game calls for them to switch from Army's side of the venue to Navy's, or vice versa, at halftime. Trump honored that tradition the past two years, as did President Barack Obama in 2011.

Trump is the 10th sitting president to attend the game; the first was Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. Obama was joined at the 2011 game by Vice President Joe Biden, now the president-elect, who presented the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in 2012 to a victorious Navy team.

This year's game will be the 121st in the history of the on-field rivalry, which dates to 1890. Navy, which won last year to snap Army's three-game streak, holds a 61-52-7 edge in the series.