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Government shutdown puts service academy sports on hold

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Army, Navy and Air Force might be forced to skip their football games next weekend because of the budget impasse in Congress.

The Defense Department temporarily suspended sports competition at the service academies Tuesday as a result of the partial government shutdown.

A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, said the decision was being reviewed by lawyers to determine whether the funds used for such activities are congressionally appropriated.

Meantime, the suspension put a pair of college football games in jeopardy: Army at Boston College, and Air Force at Navy.

The U.S. Naval Academy said in a statement that a decision will be made by noon Thursday about whether the Midshipmen will play the Air Force. Navy's football team did practice Tuesday.

Air Force associate athletic director Troy Garnhart said travel for his sports teams was being halted - including for Saturday's football game at Annapolis, Md. A scheduled news conference with Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun and players was canceled Tuesday "due to the government shutdown," according to a statement.

The football rivalry between Navy and Air Force dates to 1960, and they have played each other every year since 1972. Saturday's game is sold out.

As for Army against Boston College, B.C. athletic director Brad Bates said: "We have been in close communication with Army athletics officials regarding the potential impact of the government shutdown on this Saturday's football game. Obviously our intention is to exhaust all possibilities to play the game and we will communicate the information promptly as soon as we have resolution."

The U.S. Military Academy issued a statement saying, "Sporting competitions can still be at risk but are being assessed by our chain of command and Department of the Army."

Navy's soccer game against Howard, scheduled for Tuesday night, was called off. It was not immediately known whether it would be made up.

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AP National Security Writer Robert Burns, and AP Sports Writers Arnie Stapleton, David Ginsburg, Jimmy Golen and John Kekis contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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