I think it’s safe to say that ESPN probably wasn’t trying to undercut the Annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl by scheduling it an hour after it, but that’s not stopping SportsLink (the company that puts the game on) to throw around some insults. According to the New York Times ABC/ESPN’s Under Armour High School All-American Game will debut with no fans from the 8-year Army sponsored game….

The sudden appearance of a copycat game at almost the same time did not prompt the folks at SportsLink, the organizer of the Army game, to cheer, cheer, cheer for Old Bristol U.

“We felt a bit sandbagged,” Doug Berman, the SportsLink chairman, said in an interview.

That sentiment led Berman in June to write to Robert A. Iger, the chairman of Disney, which is the parent of ESPN and ABC. He held the Army to a higher standard as a sponsor and scorned the cable giant’s “unpatriotic undertaking” merely for the sake of staging a game. He described ESPN’s “attempt to undercut” the Army game as an “effort to undermine our Army.”

Wow. Those are pretty strong words there. I’m pretty sure if you asked the Army if they were bothered they would say that this is America and they’re free to do whatever they want. I guess the bigger issue would be if ESPN is getting to players ahead of time and lobbying for them to come over to the Leader’s game. That does not appear to be the case….yet. 74 of the 84 players invited have accepted to play in the Army game. I’d be a bit wary if I was the Army group though. The allure of ESPN could eventually pull some kids away from SportsLink.

ESPN Will Take on Army With Its Own High School Game (New York Times)