There are no more storied traditions than those that go on at the service academies, The Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy and the Air Force Academy. Their annual rituals, the teachings, the implementation of duty rarely change, and like most things in academia, when change comes it can sometimes be slow.
However when you have the right leadership at the top, and the right teachers who do have a pulse on the bigger picture, change can come quickly, effectively, and send the right messages without hesitation. Case in point is Navy football and head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
The continued mass shootings in America this past weekend have made everyone hyper sensitive to any inappropriate use of terms around violence, especially as the pertain to sports, and Navy Football has used the motto “Load The Clip” as they readied for the season. Given not just the tragedies in Gilroy and El Paso and Dayton recently, Annapolis is home to The Capital Gazette, another site of senseless violence in recent years. When the issue was pointed out to the team and the Academy, the decision to change after meeting with captains, lasted about one minute, according to Niumatalolo.
Apologize, remove, and move on.
Simple and effective leadership. There was no worry about branding or harming tradition, no explaining why it fits into the football culture, no public vote. We realize the issue, we can make a correction, we minimize the news cycle, we deal with it quickly and frankly and the page is turned for the better. No politics, no debate, just common sense.
While it may seem like a simple thing, these types of “no brainer” decisions are sometimes lacking in mainstream. What it takes is a belief in one’s principles, listening to those around you, taking the pulse of those involved and making a decision that is well communicated.
Crisis communications 101. Well played Mids, a team and a program which we should always root for, even more so now.