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Sunday's Semper Fi Bowl will be the last

Recruiting Command showcase event falls victim to budget cuts

Dec. 31, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Game Day
Players in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl run a play, Jan. 4 at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif. This year's bowl game will be the last, a victim of military budget cuts. (Sgt. Bobbie A. Curtis / Marines Corps)
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Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett presents the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl trophy to the East team players following their 17-14 win against the West on Jan. 4. The bowl brings together some of the nation's top high school athletes who excel not only on the football field but also in the classroom and in their communities. (Sgt. Scott Schmidt / Marine Corps)

High school athletes from across the nation have gathered in California to play in Sunday’s Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. They will be the last to play in the Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s showcase event; it too has fallen victim to militarywide budget cuts.

Dozens of the best high school football players in the land have been hand-selected by Marine officials to participate in the third annual Semper Fi Bowl. The nationally televised all-star game, which begins at 9 EST/6 PST on Fox Sports 1, will be played at the StubHub Center, a 27,000-seat stadium on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Recruiting Command officials say there won’t be a 2015 bowl.

“As with all advertising programs, we regularly evaluate their effectiveness, especially when there are budgetary restraints,” said Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Shalato, a MCRC spokesman. “Resources for this endeavor in the future have been applied to alternate priorities.”

The Corps invests $2.5 million in the program. Launched in 2011, the Semper Fi Bowl features 90 high school athletes composing two teams representing the Eastern and Western United States. Players are selected based on their athletic abilities, personal character, academic performance and leadership.

The program was developed to highlight athletes who brought more to the game than just athletic ability. The week-long event also allowed Marine recruiters, drill instructors and senior leaders to interact with players, their parents and others who attend the bowl. Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the commanding general of MCRC, said that was one of the most important aspects of the event.

“You’ve got to earn the trust of their parents and then you’ve got to earn the trust of the people who influence those youths,” Brilakis said. “Whether they be principals, teachers, coaches, pastors or ministers.”

Shelato said MCRC will continue other national advertising initiatives that help build Marine Corps brand awareness. That will include “Toward the Sounds of Chaos” ads that highlight humanitarian missions around the globe, and the “Fighting with Purpose” diversity-focused campaign, he said.

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