Similar to many other weekends, Rensselaer’s football team is scheduled to play the United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners on Saturday, but, in a very unusual turn of events, the fate of the game lies directly in the hands of the U.S. Congress. Being one of the five U.S. service academies, USMMA is affected by the recent federal government shutdown, which has forced other academies to cut extracurriculars, student services, and—at the Naval Academy—classes.
The Merchant Marine Academy—funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and therefore having no connection to the military—explained contingency plans before the shutdown, saying that midshipmen would remain at the academy but would not be able to attend classes. “If a shutdown persist[s] over one week, then midshipmen [will] be sent home. Midshipmen at sea [will] remain at sea under a shutdown,” states the plan, dated September 27.
According to Athletic Director Jim Knowlton, the football game in question is currently scheduled to be played Saturday at 1 pm at East Campus Stadium. That being said, if the shutdown continues past Thursday but ends Friday, the game will be played Sunday. If it does not cease Friday, the game will be considered canceled, similar to a so-called “act of God” or a natural disaster.
The Mariners are not allowed to practice while the government is shut down, and “the coaches aren’t even allowed to step foot on campus,” said Knowlton. “Playing Sunday would be only fair because they wouldn’t have had many, if any, practices before Saturday.”
With Reunion & Homecoming 2013 this weekend, a lack of the traditional football game will be a disappointment to many, but there will be many other athletic contests throughout the weekend. Included is the men’s hockey exhibition game against Saint Mary’s at 7 pm at the Houston Field House.